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Are milk bones OK for puppies?

Milk bones are a popular dog treat that many pet owners give to their dogs, including puppies. But are milk bones actually safe and healthy for puppies? The answer is not so straight-forward. There are a few things to consider before feeding milk bones to puppies.

Are milk bones safe for puppies?

In general, milk bones are considered safe for puppies in small quantities. The main ingredients in milk bones are wheat flour, milk and dairy by-products, and vitamins and minerals. None of these ingredients are toxic or harmful to dogs. However, there are a few potential concerns with feeding milk bones to puppies:

  • Choking hazard – Milk bones can present a choking risk, especially for small or medium breed puppies. The bones don’t dissolve easily and puppies may try to swallow large pieces whole.
  • Allergies – Some puppies may have sensitivities or allergies to ingredients like wheat or dairy products.
  • Nutritional value – Milk bones are not a complete and balanced source of nutrition for growing puppies.

As long as they are fed properly and in moderation, milk bones are not inherently unsafe for most puppies. Supervise puppies when feeding any treat and watch for signs of allergies or sensitivity.

Are milk bones healthy for puppies?

Milk bones are not the healthiest treat option for puppies. Here’s why:

  • Low in nutrients – Milk bones provide very little nutritional value. They mainly consist of carbohydrates and some calcium, with minimal protein and other nutrients.
  • High in calories – The calorie content in milk bones is relatively high compared to their small size. Too many milk bones may lead to weight gain.
  • Added preservatives – Milk bones contain preservatives like BHA and BHT to extend shelf life. These preservatives may cause health issues when consumed in large amounts.

While an occasional milk bone won’t harm a puppy, they do not offer much in the way of nutrition. There are healthier treat alternatives that provide more protein, vitamins, and minerals for growing puppies.

Healthier treat alternatives for puppies

Here are some healthier treat options that are safe for puppies:

  • Dehydrated meat treats – Look for treats made from chicken, beef, lamb or salmon. Ensure there are no artificial preservatives.
  • Freeze-dried treats – These maintain more nutrients than baking or dehydrating. Choose single-ingredient treats.
  • Fruit and veggie treats – Good options include blueberries, apple slices, carrot sticks, and sweet potato chews.
  • Puppy teething treats – These soothe sore gums and are easy to digest.
  • Peanut butter – Choose all-natural peanut butter with no added sugar or salt.
  • Plain yogurt – Provides protein and calcium. Opt for unsweetened yogurt.
  • Puppy kibble – Use portion of meals as training treats.

Rotate through a variety of healthy treats to give your puppy variety. Always break down large treats into bite-sized pieces appropriate for your puppy’s size and age.

Are there any side effects from milk bones?

When fed occasionally and in moderation, milk bones are unlikely to cause side effects in most healthy puppies. However, some possible side effects to watch out for include:

  • Diarrhea or upset stomach – From ingredients like dairy, wheat, or additives.
  • Food allergies – Usually presents as skin issues, gastrointestinal upset, or itching.
  • Weight gain – From excess calories, especially in inactive or small breed puppies.
  • Tooth decay – Milk bones stick to teeth, potentially causing plaque and tartar buildup.

Discontinue milk bones if any of these side effects present and consult your veterinarian if they persist or worsen.

How many milk bones can puppies have?

The recommended milk bone serving size for puppies is:

Puppy Size Maximum Daily Treats
Small breed 1-2 treats
Medium breed 1-3 treats
Large breed 1-4 treats

Guidelines for maximum daily treats help prevent overfeeding. Additionally, limit milk bones to no more than 10-15% of your puppy’s total daily calorie intake.

Never free-feed milk bones or leave the bag open for puppies to graze on. Closely monitor your puppy anytime treats are given.

At what age can puppies have milk bones?

Most puppies can start having an occasional milk bone around 12-16 weeks of age, depending on breed size. Here are general guidelines on milk bone age limits:

  • Small breeds – 12 weeks and older
  • Medium breeds – 14 weeks and older
  • Large/giant breeds – 16 weeks and older

Puppies have delicate digestive systems so it’s best to wait until at least 3-4 months to introduce treats like milk bones. Always break treats into bite-sized pieces to reduce choking risk.

Tips for feeding milk bones to puppies

If you choose to occasionally feed your puppy milk bones, here are some tips to do so safely:

  • Break into pea-sized pieces appropriate for puppy’s size
  • Feed away from mealtimes as a treat, not as a dietary staple
  • Supervise your puppy while consuming any treat
  • Introduce slowly and watch for signs of sensitivity
  • Brush teeth or rinse mouth after eating to prevent tartar buildup
  • Discontinue use if you observe any negative side effects


In moderation, milk bones generally will not harm healthy puppies over 12-16 weeks old. However, they provide minimal nutritional value compared to healthier alternatives. Limit milk bones to occasional treats in small portions, supervise your puppy, and watch carefully for any negative effects.

For a balanced diet that supports your puppy’s growth and development, focus on high quality puppy food. Supplement with protein-rich treats like dehydrated meats, fruits, veggies, and yogurt. Avoid over-reliance on ultra-processed options like milk bones.