Bones improve dental health, digestion and provide minerals
Today I want to dispel a few myths about bones.
One myth is that dogs should never be fed bones. I suspect that these myths came from the same people who came up with the idea that our dogs should eat nothing other than kibble made of wood chips, corn and meat by-products. Every week I receive many questions about bones so I'm going to try and clear a few things up!
Chewing on the right kind of raw bones is the equivalent of a good dental cleaning, it removes plaque buildup and prevents gum disease!
Raw bones provide a highly digestible source of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals, however, based on the HairQ Test results of hundreds of dogs, feeding bones is not enough to provide all of the needed minerals.
Feeding bones makes the stomach muscle layers stronger, which prevents bloat. In fact, in almost 20 years I have not seen a single case of bloat in a dog eating bones and a raw diet.
Bones also have a cleansing effect as they provide roughage in the diet and bulk for healthy bowel movements.
Feeding raw bones also prevents anal gland problems. The bowel movements after feeding bones are harder which helps express anal glands and get rid of toxins.
Chewing on raw bones keeps our dogs, especially the puppies and adolescents, occupied. However, feeding bones too often, or daily, may lead to excessive tightness of the chewing muscles. I suggest feeding bones about two to three times a week.
Which bones should you feed?
Avoid feeding beef, buffalo or bison shank bones. They are often harder than dog's teeth. Larger dogs can get carried away chewing on a large bone and may crack one of their teeth. This is how a two dollar marrow bone can turn into a painful and very expensive adventure.
Smaller dogs may be fine chewing on the big marrow bones because they can’t crunch through them. However, they have zero scaling effect. I already hear some of you protesting: “But my dog loves big bones!! He likes to work at the bone marrow!” In reality, nature intended canines to hunt for birds, rodents, rabbits, goats and perhaps deer. Most dogs would simply not dare go anywhere near a buffalo or a cow and if they did, these large animals would not be the mainstay of their diet.
However, the right sized bones can save Fido a lot of dental trouble and save you tons of money. I recommend feeding lamb or goat bones twice a week. The abrasive action of these hard, but not too thick, bones are perfect for keeping your dog's teeth shiny without the risk of dental fractures.
How about chicken bones and the bones that splinter?
In my opinion, feeding these bones is safe if they are raw. Dogs have very strong stomach acids and bones dissolve to smaller pieces before they move into the intestines. The same applies to seemingly sharper bone fragments. Dogs have evolved very strong stomach and intestinal walls and the fear of intestinal perforation is just another myth invented by pet food companies.
I do not make or sell pet food and have no reason to recommend bones other than for your dog’s health benefits.
What to do if your dog won't eat bones, is it ok?
If your dog does not like bones or does not digest them well, it is ok to skip them. Just make sure that you supplement your dog’s diet with the four essentials - minerals, vitamins, probiotics and omega oils.
Bone meal is not a good idea!
Some people use bone meal with the idea of replacing wholesome raw bones. The problem is that most bone meal is heat sterilized and processed, which makes it very hard to digest and absorb.
Cheap bone meal is often imported from China and no one can guarantee that you are getting bone meal only. We all know the tainted pet food stories.
Do I still need to give supplements when feeding raw food and bones?
The simple answer is yes. I have seen hundreds of results of HairQ tests in dogs that get bones, but no supplements and most of them are deficient in trace minerals. The main reason is that soils have been exploited to the point where essential minerals are often absent.
If you are in doubt, I suggest you test your dog. If you dog’s test results are normal, I will pay for the test, so you have nothing to lose!
If you are wondering what supplements to give, here is a link to the essentials together with reviews and opinions of other dog lovers.
If you are still in doubt, perhaps watching the video of my 13-year old dog Skai will make your decision easier.
Wishing you many happy days with your best friend!