Raw bones are best, but there is one situation where cooked bones are ok
Today I have decided to write on the topic of bones. There is no end in sight when it comes to the often heated debates about feeding bones. For years, I have been a big advocate of raw bone feeding and take every opportunity to promote it. However, nothing is black and white. Recently I mentioned that there is one exception to when it is ok to feed cooked bones. My claim stirred up a fiery online discussion and I want to clarify what I meant.
10 steps to safe bone feeding and when it is safe to feed cooked bones.
- Raw bones are good for dogs if they are fed raw.
- The best raw bones are the ones that your dog can crunch. This means that all bones except large marrow bones are suitable for dogs.
- Large beef marrow bones are not suitable for most dogs. They are too hard and dogs often fracture teeth when chewing them.
- Be cautious about feeding beef ribs if your dog has a tendency to swallow them whole. These bones are long and may get stuck in the esophagus. If your dog is a good chewer, they should be fine.
- Never feed bones without supervision. While it is rare for bones to get lodged in between the opposing rows of upper teeth, it can happen and your dog will be very happy to have you stand by and help if it does.
- Raw chicken bones are great source of nutrition. They also provide roughage to clean and strengthen the digestive tract. Chicken bones make faeces harder, which helps to express and cleanse the anal glands.
- Raw bones that splinter when chewed are ok for dogs. The digestive tract of dogs is designed for such bones. The stomach and intestinal tract have strong muscular walls that contract to ensure proper passage through the digestive tract.
- There is one exception to when you can feed cooked bone. It is when you have your dog on cooked meat diet and you can’t find a good source of boneless meat. In this situation, you can cook packaged meat with ground bone in it. The ground bone fragments must be smaller than 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch to be safe) Such small fragments of cooked bone partially lose nutritional value, however, they do not pose a threat to your dog if fed mixed in the rest of the meat.
- Bone meal is not an ideal source of bones for most dogs. It is usually heat processed and has limited nutritional value. It often comes from questionable sources like China.
- Bones are ideal for dogs of all sizes. They dramatically improve dental health, improve digestion, strengthen the muscular layer of the stomach and intestines, prevent bloat, provide roughage and improve anal gland function.
For another article on raw diet feeding, click here.
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© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM