Safe Bones for Dogs: What Bones Are Best?
ARE BONES GOOD FOR DOGS?
Yes! In fact RAW bones are essential to your dog's health the same way they are part of the diet of wild canines. Bones are the key to good dental health, proper digestion and they also provide minerals and joint and cartilage building blocks.
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 are best for dogs?
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.
ARE CHICKEN BONES DANGEROUS FOR DOGS? WHAT ABOUT BONES THAT SPLINTER?
In my opinion, feeding dogs chicken bones is safe if they are raw. Dogs have very strong stomach acids and bones dissolve into 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 and wellbeing.
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 okay 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 previous dog, Skai, when he was 13 years old will make your decision easier.
Wishing you many happy days with your best friend!
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Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM has 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. He graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988 in the Czech Republic and obtained the Canadian Certificate of Qualification in 1995. He is currently licensed in the European Union, and his unique approach to healing and nutrition helps holistically minded dog lovers worldwide.
Dr. Dobias strongly believes that disease prevention, natural nutrition and supplements, the right exercise and a drug free approach to medicine can add years to your dog's life.
As a formulator of his all-natural vitamin and supplement line and co-inventor of natural, chemical free flea and tick control, FleaHex® and TickHex®, his unique healing system and products currently hold the highest independent five star customer rating. For more information click here.
Any general recommendations that Dr. Dobias makes are not a substitute for the appropriate veterinary care and are for informational and educational purposes only.