For as long as we can remember, dogs and bones seem to go hand and hand. This is because raw bones are part of the ancestral diet! Dogs are carnivores. They were built to rip and chew on bones in the wild. This is part of their biological makeup! If a dog is meant to eat a raw diet primarily consisting of meat, they also are meant to have raw bones as well.
Recreational raw bones have a number of benefits for dogs, including mental stimulation, oral hygiene, and nutritional value. But remember, not all bones are equally beneficial. In fact, whereas some bones are quite safe, others can be extremely dangerous. It is important to know what are the safest bones to avoid emergency surgeries — and even fatalities. Your dog will love raw bones, but first, it's important to know what kind of raw bone will be the safest and most suitable for your dog.
Why You Should Never Feed Your Dog Cooked Bones
Most people know to steer clear of cooked chicken bones. In actual fact, cooking bones of any type weakens the bone’s structure, making it prone to splintering. This can lead to a number of health problems.
Sharp pieces of bone can break off, cutting the tongue, gums, tonsils, or cheeks. This can cause severe bleeding and pain.
Trapped in Lower Jaw
There is always a risk that brittle bones may become stuck in your dog’s lower jaw. This is frightening for your dog, who may panic. If you are unable to remove the bone yourself, take your dog to the vet.
Stuck in Esophagus
Another place where a cooked bone can become stuck in the esophagus — the passage from the mouth to the stomach. Your dog will need to try to bring the bone back up to his mouth. If the bone does not work free, a visit to the vet is necessary.
Eating cooked bones (or cooked anything, for that matter) is unnatural for dogs. For this reason, dogs often suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation after consumption. Constipation can be quite severe, due to the high calcium content of the bone that causes a firm stool. Furthermore, sharp fragments can scratch the large intestine and rectum, which can cause your dog severe pain.
Blockage in the Gut
Another way a cooked bone can impact your dog’s digestion is if it becomes trapped in his stomach or intestines. This can occur if your dog swallows a large piece of bone and it cannot continue passing through his digestive tract. Your dog may require surgery to remove the chunk of bone.
Particularly large pieces stuck in the stomach can call for an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. This involves using a tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tool. Your vet will the tube to free the bone from the dog’s stomach.
Small pieces of bone are equally problematic. If one breaks off while your dog is chewing, he could inhale it. This will cause the fragment of bone to remain in your dog’s windpipe, making it difficult for him to breathe. In such a situation, you’ll need an emergency appointment at a veterinary clinic or animal hospital.
Cooked bones can tear holes in the stomach lining or intestines. This can lead to a bacterial infection in the abdomen called peritonitis, which is notoriously difficult to treat. If you notice any signs of peritonitis (such as fever, vomiting, black stools, lethargy, or weakness), take your dog straight to an emergency clinic. The infection can be fatal.
When pieces of cooked bone are particularly sharp, they can cause severe bleeding in the rectum. You’ll need to see your vet ensure your dog is not at risk of further complications.
Bonus: Lack of Nutritional Value
One last reason why you should avoid cooked bones is nutritional value. Just like with meat, cooking removes some of the nutrients from bones, resulting in fewer health benefits for your dog.
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Raw Bones For Dogs
Bones are great to give our dogs because they love it! They are considered high-value treats and have great benefits for your dog. Unfortunately, not all bones are great.
Cooked bones, pork rib bones, and chicken bones are dangerous because they can splinter. Also if the bone is smaller than the dog, they might be swallowed whole which can have other risks. For these reasons, sticking with raw bones like Beef Marrow, Beef Knucklebones, or Lamb Femur Bones is best.
When you purchase raw bones for your dog, just make sure that they come from a trusted source. Also, be sure to store them correctly to keep them free from microbes.
Beef marrow bones are great for medium and large breeds. They are filled with marrow your dog will love to get out, making them a great activity your dog can enjoy! Beef marrow bone contains nutrients that can:
Lower your dog’s risk for heart disease and certain types of cancers
Improve kidney and digestive function
Speed up the healing process
Contribute to the production of red and white blood cells
Keep in mind, marrow bones may not be the best option if you are trying to have your dog lose weight. Marrow is very fatty and can add a lot of calories to your dog's daily caloric intake. Marrow also can cause diarrhea for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Knucklebones are some of the largest, hardest bones around. They are perfect for large and medium dogs who love to be occupied chewing for long periods of time. Plus, they are great for keeping teeth free of tartar. Dogs are only able to gnaw at these bones slowly and there is no risk of chunks breaking off that they could swallow. When a knucklebone still has the tendon, it is particularly appealing.
Benefits Of Raw Bones For Dogs
In order to prevent gum disease and promote healthy teeth and gums in pets, consistent and proper dental care is needed. When your dog chews on a raw bone, they are naturally cleaning and flossing their teeth. Raw bones have naturally occurring live enzymes that kill dangerous bacteria and break down the biofilm that covers plaque making it hard to remove. Then when chewing on the bone the plaque is gently scraped off and the teeth are naturally cleaned. A toothbrush or dental chews don’t have the power to thoroughly clean your canine's teeth like this. Your dog will also benefit from the chewing motion and they gently massage their gums while promoting healthy jaw development.
Giving your dog a recreational raw bone will keep them content and relaxed. Your dog will focus on the challenge of getting all the meat from the bone while satisfying their need for mental stimulation. If your dog is anxious, excessively licks or scratches themselves, or chews on things around the house, a raw bone will divert their attention and distract them. This will promote new positive behavior!
Raw bones are an excellent source of minerals, amino and essential fatty acids, and other nutrients. These qualities all aid in promoting a healthy digestive tract. Bones are made up of calcium phosphate, a mineral that aids in proper growth and strengthening bones. The calcium in raw bones can be up to four times more digestible than over the counter calcium supplements. Raw bones also contain marrow, which is comprised mostly of fat and blood components as well as zinc, selenium, and magnesium all of which are extremely beneficial in boosting immunity. Raw bones also contain glucosamine and chondroitin which help with healthy joints. Not only are raw bones healthy, but they're also delicious!
Species Appropriate Habit
Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs. Instead of giving them a chew toy or bones with no nutritional value, you can give them what they would consume in the wild! Your dog’s health will benefit while providing a workout, mental stimulation, and a yummy treat!
Introducing Your Dog To Raw Bones
For a dog that has never had raw bones, we recommend introducing it to them slowly.The best time is right after a meal, as he won’t be hungry and he’ll chew the bone slowly. Always pick a large enough bone for your dog — about the size of his head is perfect. You can let your dog have the bone for 10-15 minutes for the first couple of times.
Remember, if you take the bone away from your dog before all the marrow has been dug out, you need to put it back in the freezer since it is raw food. Also, keep in mind marrow is very rich and fatty and can cause loose stools for dogs with sensitive stomachs if consumed in large amounts. Limit the time to your dog, or scoop out some of the marrow. Once your dog has adjusted to their new treat, you can give them a raw bone 1-3 times a week.
When To Throw The Raw Dog Bones Away
It is time to toss the bone once the marrow and/or meat is all gone. Once this happens, the bone will harden and become harmful to your dog's teeth. There is also a chance of welcoming bacteria once the bone sits out too long, so be sure it throw it away once the marrow is consumed!
Best Practices For Raw Bones
Ideal for dogs older than 6 months old.
Ensure chew time does not exceed 30-60 minutes in any 1 day.
Feed raw bones 1-3 times per week for optimal oral health & mental stimulation.
As with all dog treats & toys, choose the appropriate size for your dog. -Ex. Don't give large dogs bones small enough to swallow. Don't give small dogs large bones.
When feeding high-value treats, it is always best to keep all dogs separate to avoid any temptation, possessive stress, or altercation.
Not ideal for young puppies, seniors dogs, flat-faced breeds, over-aggressive chewers, or food aggressive dogs.
For dogs with weak or insufficient teeth, avoid giving raw bones altogether.
Keep raw bones frozen until ready to give to your dog.
Never cook raw bones. The bone can splinter easily into sharp pieces dangerous to your dog.
Be sure to supervise your dog at all times during recreational bone activity.