Is it ok to feed bones or bone meal to dogs?
I want to touch on the topic of bones, bone meal and how to keep your dog safe and healthy. The most common questions that come our way are:
- Is it ok to feed bones?
- What should one do when their dog is not allowed or does not like bones?
- Is bone meal ok for dogs?
- Should supplements containing calcium be given when you give bones?
Instead of beating around the bush, I will dive right into the bones of it.
1. Is it ok to feed bones and what kind?
The myth about the dangers of feeding chicken and other bones still persists. All you need to know is you should never feed cooked bones and it is ok to feed raw bones. I do not like dogs getting big marrow bones or long rib bones. If you want to read more info on why, click here.
2. What should you do when your dog is not allowed bones or does not like eating bones?
There are a few instances when it is not recommended that a dog eat bones. Some dogs are so weak that they do not digest bones or they have issues with their back, which is often connected to constipation. In such cases, you can supplement plant-based sources of calcium that is highly bio-available and easily absorbed. I like to run a HairQ test every six months on my dog to see what his calcium and mineral levels are and adjust doses as needed.
Note: Not every dog absorbs nutrients in the same way. I find that hunting breeds like Lab's and Golden's are digestion kings, whereas herding dogs have less efficient digestion. Why? It seems that our ancestors bred for working traits such us herding and bred out the instinct to want to eat the sheep. Unconsciously they bred out good digestion.
3. Is bone meal ok for dogs?
I recommend against feeding bone meal, with the exception of locally sourced frozen bone meal. Most bone meal powders are heat processed, which makes them hard to digest and absorb.
Many products are sourced from other countries and contamination usually concentrates in bones.
Some people like to give calcium carbonate powder, which is essential ground up rock. In nature, canines would get calcium from plants, meat and bones and not directly from rocks. In other words, in nature the calcium is passed from Earth into plants and prey animals and then into our dogs.
4. Is crumbling, hard, whitish feces normal in dogs?
The answer is yes in dogs that eat bones such as poultry bones. Usually, they are given in the form of raw carcasses or they are ground in the prepared frozen raw meat package. I suggest that you do not feed bones or meat with bones more than three times a week. It takes a little more digestive power and I like to alternate my dog's poultry with other meats that do not contain bone. To summarize, too much of one thing is simply too much but, it is normal for your dog to have hard pebble like stool if you fed chicken the night before.
5. Should supplements, such as GreenMin, be given if your dog eats bones?
Absolutely. Many people focus so much on calcium and magnesium that they forget about other minerals. The body needs them all to support thousands of different metabolic functions and pathways. Do you remember biochemistry? It is mind boggling what all goes on in the body but, it can't happen without the building blocks. If there is one thing to remember, it is that deficiency is the first step in the direction of a disease.
The beauty of plant-based minerals is that they contain a balanced profile of nutrients and they are easily regulated by the body. If there is excess, it gets stored or excreted. If there is a lack of minerals, you will see it in a HairQ test.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM