By Debra Manfield, Owner
Despite the precautions outlined below, bones can become an important part of your dog’s diet. When fed responsibly, they can help with their dental, diet and mental health.
Supervise your pet when feeding raw bones and manage your pack if you have a multi-dog household. Bones are high value resource and fights can break out.
NEVER feed cooked chicken bones, or any kind of cooked fowl bones – EVER. They can splinter and perforate your pet’s intestines or stomach and cause severe injuries or death.
Slow Roasted marrow or femur bones offered by some pet manufacturers while okay to give to your dog, offer none of the benefits of raw bones. Your dog might chew off a large chunk, something more easily done with a cooked bone, swallow it and not be able to digest it causing gut pain (colic), scarring of the gut lining and bleeding, choking, impaction, even death. Never feed a knuckle or marrow bone that you have cooked at home….those will definitely splinter and cause harm.
Large dogs can handle large bones like 5” or larger marrow bones, large knuckle bones, whole chicken frames and wings. Do not give a large dog a small bone ever. They tend to want to try and swallow the smaller bones and they can become lodge in their throat or they can get bones stuck across the roof of the mouth or behind their molars. If giving dogs raw poultry necks, always chopped them up…some dogs will try to swallow the whole neck and can suffocate or choke to death. Some bones, like chicken bones, are for consuming quickly while others, like beef and bison bones, take a bit more time.
Do not feed bones to dogs that tend to break their teeth when chewing or to dogs that have had restorative dental work.
If your pooch has a predisposition to pancreatitis, withhold raw marrow bones as they are too rich. You can however scoop out most of the marrow and feed a “low fat” bone to that pooch so they can enjoy the other benefits.
Do not feed pork bones. Only feed rib bones to very small pooches. Most medium to large dogs will run into trouble if you let them have rib bones because they tend to consume too much bone which can result in impaction or because the rib bone can be broken into smaller pieces becoming a choking hazard (see size the bone right).
Handle raw bones carefully.
Always refreeze or refrigerate bones that still have marrow and meat left on them. Put the bone in the refrigerator if giving it back the next day or refreeze it if several days will pass before the bone is given again.
Toss old bones away that don’t have any marrow or meat left. Even though your pooch might enjoy gnawing on it, it can become brittle and break apart.
Knowing the precautions of how to feed raw meaty bones will keep you pets happy, healthy and chewing!
Don’t forget kitty!
Cats are obligate carnivores and as such require high quality animal protein, muscle meat and organ meat, plus raw meaty bones. Cut up a turkey or chicken neck, removing most of the skin, and let them have at it. Once accomplished, the pieces can be larger. Sometimes, cats prefer starting with the softer chicken bones, including backs, wings and legs. Again, NEVER cook these products as the bones will become brittle and splinter causing very serious injury to your cat. Get them started young. Your cats will soon be begging you for raw bones and you’ll be rewarded with seeing brilliant feline fangs!