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The 7 best bones that are safe and healthy for dogs

Dogs are natural chewers, but lots of bones are dangerous. Try one of our favorite, vet-approved bones you can trust are safe for your furry friend.

Updated August 25, 2021

Created By

Mariah Ackary,
Beagle puppy chewing on a dog snack

The best bones for dogs 

  1. Native Pet Yak Chews for Dogs: Only 3-ingredients, high protein option
  2. AFreschi Turkey Tendon for Dogs: Easy-to-digest rawhide alternative
  3. Rachael Ray Nutrish Soup Bones: Savory chews with a meaty center
  4. EcoKind Pet Treats Gold Yak Dog Chews: Odorless, lactose-free chews
  5. Nylabone Healthy Edibles Chew Treats: All-natural ingredients
  6. Benebone Real Bacon Chew Toy Bone: Made for aggressive chewers
  7. Nylabone Twin Pack Power Chews: Best for large or giant breeds

🔎 How we picked our favorites

We partnered with veterinarians — Our list of favorites is vet-approved, so you can trust that the ingredients are safe and healthy for your canine companion.

We avoided real bones — Whether cooked or uncooked, real bones are unsafe for dogs because they splinter and break into sharp pieces that can puncture your dog’s mouth or organs.

The best dog bones, reviewed

What we love: The active chewing your dog will be doing as they enjoy these treats will also benefit their dental health. Chewing on harder treats like these can reduce tartar buildup and ward off stinky breath.

What customers say: “Finally a REAL long-lasting chew!!!” said one Amazon reviewer. And many of the 1,500+ other reviewers agree: these yak sticks hold up well, even to intense gnawing.

🧪 Ingredients: Yak’s milk, cow’s milk, salt, and lime.

What we love: Like rawhide bones, this turkey tendon bone will keep your dog busy for longer than a soft treat will. But it’s also much safer than rawhide because it breaks into easily-digested, small pieces. We also love that each bone is 80% protein and only 3% fat.

What customers say: Of the 4,000+ Amazon reviews, one thing is clear: Dogs love the taste of turkey tendon. Dozens of reviewers say their dog goes crazy for these bones. One thing to note, though — ‘long lasting’ is subjective. Some people were happy with the bone lasting for an hour or two, but others were left wishing for more.

🧪 Ingredients: Turkey tendon.

What we love: With no artificial flavoring, you can trust this expert-crafted formula. They’re softer than other types of bones, making them highly digestible, even for dogs with sensitive tummies.

What customers say: Several Amazon reviewers love these bones for their soft texture. One reviewer even said they’re similar to the consistency of a Tootsie Roll, without the chewiness. Because they’re so soft, some reviewers say they slice these chews into half-inch-thick treats instead of giving their dog the full bone at once.

🧪 Ingredients: Wheat Flour, glycerin, rice syrup, potato starch, water, wheat gluten, rice flour, chicken meal, chicken, dried plain beet pulp, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), gelatin, natural flavor, calcium carbonate, phosphoric acid, monosodium phosphate, dried peas, potassium sorbate (a preservative), tapioca, titanium dioxide (color), dried carrots, iron oxide (color), citric acid (a preservative), and rosemary extract.

What we love: They’re organic, lactose-free, and contain no artificial ingredients or chemicals. These quality ingredients make them a great alternative to rawhide and plastic chews.

What customers say: With a 4.4 star rating and nearly 10,000 reviews, it’s safe to say these milk-based chews are tried and true. One top reviewer says each treat lasts between 8 and 10 hours.

🧪 Ingredients: Yak’s milk and cow’s milk.

What we love: These more traditional-looking bones come in a variety of sizes, just like our furry friends do. Choose from a range of 6 sizes, starting at 1.75 inches and going all the way to 8 inches, there’s an appropriate size for any dog.

What customers say: Several dog owners and reviewers say these chews were a lifesaver for their picky pup. Another favorite feature is that they’re soft enough to be snapped in half and fed as treats periodically.

🧪 Ingredients: Wheat starch, vegetable glycerin, potato starch, pea protein, rice flour, powdered cellulose, lecithin, oat hulls, calcium carbonate, natural bacon flavor, natural roast beef flavor, dried chicken, choline chloride, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, niacin supplement, calcium pantothenate, folic acid, vitamin A supplement, vitamin E supplement, biotin, inositol, ferrous carbonate, magnesium oxide, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, sodium selenite, calcium chloride, zinc oxide, copper oxide, manganous oxide, and sodium molybdate.

What we love: Beyond offering a quality product, Benebone offers “happiness, guaranteed.” They encourage anyone who wants to chat about their products to reach out directly. Plus, they source and make all chew toys in the U.S.

What customers say: Owners of aggressive chewers do confirm that these toys pass the durability test. However, for the same reason, there are some reviews of broken teeth. Benebone does recommend confirming with a veterinarian that your dog’s teeth are strong and healthy enough before giving them this chew toy.

🧪 Ingredients: Nylon and bacon.

What we love: If you’ve got a large dog, you’ve likely seen some chew toys disappear in a flash. The nylon is one of your best bets at keeping your chew-master entertained. Plus, the ridges and nubs can help prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

What customers say: One happy reviewer says this is a great distraction for when their dog starts to chew on furniture or shoes — much tastier and longer-laster, we imagine.

🧪 Ingredients: Nylon, chicken flavor, and bacon flavor.

Dogs can benefit from chewing on bones

With so many safety considerations, you might wonder if giving your dog a bone is really worth the trouble. Well, most dogs will feel the urge to chew on something, so it’s good to have a safe bone around instead of your shoes, furniture, or other belongings.

Here are some other benefits of bones for dogs:

  • Mental stimulation — Can distract nervous or anxious dogs.
  • Oral hygiene — Can help minimize the accumulation of plaque and tartar on dog’s teeth.
  • Puppy support — Can soothe teething dogs.

Types of bones and their safety

There are plenty of dog bones that are perfectly safe. But there are more that aren’t safe. If you’re ever unsure, consult your vet. Here are a few of the most common types of dog bones and their safety.

Unsafe bones

  • 🚫 Cooked — Real animal bones that have been cooked over heat — as in, your chicken wing or rib leftovers — are never safe for dogs. Because they’ve been cooked, they splinter very easily into small, sharp pieces that can puncture your dog’s mouth, stomach, and intestines.
  • 🚫 Rawhide — Though popular, these bones do not pass the pliability test. They can break into sharp, solid pieces, making them a digestive and choking hazard. Plus, many dogs are known to fracture their teeth on these.
  • 🚫 Raw bones — While they might be a smidge safer than cooked animal bones, raw bones are still dangerous. That includes antlers, knuckles, and other types of real bones. They can still splinter like cooked bones do, but they also pose the risk of tooth breakage due to their hardness.

Safe bones

  • 👍  Bone treats — Softer chews that are usually made of meat or cheese, like bully sticks, are usually safe. Always confirm with a veterinarian that the ingredients check out, but these types of treats will typically have the tenderness that makes them safe for dogs.

Mostly safe

  • 👍  Synthetic — Usually made of plastic or nylon, these bones are okay as long as they are pliable or have some “give” to them. If too hard, they can fracture teeth or break apart and cause GI obstructions. Watch for broken pieces and consider switching to a digestible bone if your dog chews through a lot of these.

Safety tips for giving your pup bones

Administered correctly, bones can help with oral health, anxiety, and destructive chewing. But how do you make sure they’re safe?

First, you should know the risks of giving your dog certain materials to chew on. Second, you should know a few rules of thumb about what to look for and what to avoid.

Potential risks

Unsafe bones can cause a number of health issues. If the bone is too hard, you risk fractured teeth and gastrointestinal obstructions. If it’s a material that splinters, like real bones, your dog might swallow the fragment and end up with a punctured throat, stomach, or intestine.

🚨 If you notice a change in behavior after giving your dog a bone, they may have a GI obstruction. Bring your dog to the vet immediately if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal tenderness, hunching, or other changes in behavior.

On a more minor level, you risk tummy troubles with any new treat. A new bone, even if it’s generally considered “safe,” may cause diarrhea or vomiting. If that happens, simply stop use and talk with your vet about what ingredients might be causing the upset. They can help you identify a gentler alternative.

What to avoid

Avoid anything listed in the “unsafe” section above. In general, stay away from anything that splinters, like natural bones or sticks. That includes traditional bones, like beef bones, but also other products like elk antlers. Harder synthetic bones, like Nylon or plastic bones, can be okay for some dogs, but may lead to tooth fractures or intestinal blockages in others.

“Synthetic bones are okay as long as they are pliable or have some ‘give’ to them. Ones that can break apart in some firm, solid pieces could cause GI obstructions, and too-hard bones can fracture teeth.”

Dr. Erica Irish, DVM

In general, the safest bones have some pliability and will break into chewy little pieces as your dog gnaws. For pliability, you can use this rule of thumb(nail) to determine safety: If a bone doesn’t “give” a little when you press it with your thumbnail, it may be too hard.

As far as ingredients go, you don’t need to go crazy with organic, all-natural, grass-fed, preservative-free, additive-free everything. Animal by-products aren’t terrible either. Bones need some level of processing and preservation to keep them shelf-stable.

Talk to your vet if you have dog bone confusion

As with any new product for your pooch, the best source of truth is always your veterinarian. If you look long enough on the internet, you’ll find every conflicting opinion out there about the safety of various types of bones. When in doubt, trust the experts.

Chew toy alternatives to dog bones

Luckily, there are many softer alternatives to dog bones, like dental chews, rubber chew bones, and fabric tug-of-war toys. These come with their own set of risks, but one great alternative is a kong.

These highly popular toys are made of rubber and look like a hollowed-out beehive. Inside, you can stuff a kong with anything that’s safe for your dog to eat, such as peanut butter or wet dog food. Like a bone, the kong can keep your dog busy licking and chewing for hours as they try to reach the inner deliciousness. But the kong poses much less risk of GI obstruction or fracturing teeth.