What Bones Should You Give Your Dog?

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Raw meaty bones can give your dog a lot of great nutrients, satisfy his need to chew (so he doesn’t attack your shoes!), and clean his teeth. But you do need to make sure you are following the right steps to ensure the bones are safe for your dog.


Before Feeding Any Bones

If you haven’t fed your dog any raw bones before, here are a few “quick tips” to keep you and your dog safe

- Don’t ever feed cooked bones, the bones become brittle, making them more likely to splinter which can not only puncture your dog when he swallows them, but can also get stuck.
- Choose bones for your dog that are longer than her muzzle, to reduce the chance of choking.
- Monitor your dog to make sure she doesn’t choke, especially if it’s her first time eating a bone.
- Feeding the bone after a meal can help prevent your dog from trying to “wolf” it down as he is not “starving.”
- Don’t cut bones lengthwise – cut bones are more likely to splinter.
- Avoid bones with marrow for dogs with pancreatitis – the high fat contact can cause a flare up.
- Dogs that have had restorative dental work or have poor dental health should not be given bones unless cleared by the vet as it can cause their teeth to crack or break.
- Refrigerate all meaty bones and throw out any remaining ones after 3-4 days to reduce risk of bacteria.
- Bones get brittle if they are left out! So, don’t let your dog chew on a bone for days. A day or two at the most, as long as there is no meat left on it. If your dog doesn’t finish the meat, throw the bone out or put it back in the fridge, but remember they only last up to four days.
- Offer your dog raw bones on a surface that you can disinfect afterward – so the kitchen floor, outside on a cement or tile patio, etc. The lawn is my dogs preferred dining table.
- Remember to wash your hands after handling the bones.

Types of Bones

There are many, many bones you can feed your dog from a variety of animals. The main thing is to remember if your dog has any allergies – for example don’t give a dog allergic to beef a bone from a cow – and the size of your dog’s muzzle. A tiny Chihuahua can easily eat a lamb bone, which is probably too small for a Great Dane. After that, it’s really up to you and your dog’s preference. There are two types of bones across the different animal species with different properties that are good to be aware of when deciding what to feed your dog.

Long bones
are found on wings and legs of animals and have a hard, smooth surface. They are filled with lots of marrow (so remember to avoid these for dogs suffering from pancreatitis or need a lower fat diet). For most dogs, marrow is a great supplement, however. It supports kidney and digestive function. It also helps generate red and white blood cells and even aid in healing wounds. The ends of long bones are soft and contain a lot of cartilage – which is a great natural source of glucosamine! Glucosamine is particularly important for senior dogs and fast growing, large breed puppies. (Avoid the large cow leg bones. Although I have come across a few dogs that can eat the entire bone. They are real hard and more likely to chip a tooth and if they can eat it, usually constipation follows as the bone compacts in the bowel. Lamb shanks are more appropriate for most dogs.)

Flat bones
are bones such as ribs, spinal column, pelvis and shoulder. They are softer than long bones and have less marrow. Because they are softer, flat bones are definitely better for dogs with bad teeth (but again, check with your vet if you dog has poor dental health. Because while chewing on a bone can clean your dog’s teeth, if he has teeth that easily breaks, that is a concern.)

Both types of bones are full of calcium phosphate! Calcium phosphate can actually help your dog’s skeletal system to regenerate and adapt!! And, the type found in raw bones is four times more digestible versus a supplement. And, as mentioned, they are great for cleaning teeth! They act as a teeth scaler, removing excess tartar which will keep the teeth and gums healthy, freshen breath and help prevent cavities.

One thing you may come across more often with feeding raw meaty bones is regurgitation. The other day I gave one of my dogs a beef brisket bone that was a touch small and I knew she would try swallow it before chewing it properly. I watched carefully and she chewed, swallowed and regurgitated that brisket bone 3 times before she could swallow it. So, don’t freak out if your dog regurgitates their bones and chew them some more before swallowing it again, it’s just normal for them.

The most common species used for bones are cow, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey and kangaroo. Remember that the “type” Flat or Long, will affect how easily the bone is broken up by your dog. Chicken, turkey and pork bones do seem to splinter more easily than beef, bison or lamb, so that is something to keep in mind depending on how aggressive of a chewer your dog is and if you can monitor them while eating so you can take the bone away if a sharp edge presents itself. After that, your dog will let you know what “flavour” he likes best!

Robert

All bones have some small amount of risk. If the dog chews them carefully you should never have problems. I think there is a posibility of too much thyroid hormone if the thyroid isnt taken out of the neck. Also all the issues related to different bacteria the chicken neck can have. Labradoodles are good size dog tyou can try beef brisket as well.

James Taylor

Other reasons to throw old bones out. When we feed our small dog a bones, it is a replacement for a normal meal.
We allow the dog to have 1 hour on the bones and take it off her before she has time to bury them.

Old bones left lying around attract flies and vermin that spread disease and when we take them off her we place them in a sealed bag and dispose of them through our rubbish collection.

Patrick Smyth

I used to give my cavoodle frozen chicken necks so that she couldn't wolf them down- however she ended up with broken teeth and other dental problems which cost several hundred dollars to fix. Now I give them to her after a night in the frig out of the freezer. Scarfs them down - are they any good for her teeth?

Kathryn

Hi Robert,
Thank you for your information on bones.
I have tried Zak my caboodle with several bones the one he loves is a chicken neck he has it for breakfast each morning if l run out he is not happy and will sit and stare at the fridge for at least five minutes until he realises that there’s no chicken neck that morning.
I have tried him with brisket bones they have raw meat on them and he just isn’t interested I really would like to encourage him somehow to have a bone something like that because he really has some serious teeth and only one year old I want to make sure that he has good strong teeth for the rest of his life. I had to Jack Russels in the past and they just loved their all bones and they had the most beautiful teeth until they went to God.

Would you have any suggestions for me and Zach.

He is going really well on his food from you guys and his itching isn’t as bad. He still seems to have a bit of a bum scratching and licking problem I have had him to the vet and they said his glands are fine so I’m not quite sure where to go with that.

Kind regards
Kathryn

RobertKathryn

Hi Kathryn, you are right the necks don't do a great job on teeth cleaning especially if they gulp them down. You could try giving a fast day before you give the brisket bone. Also try cutting most of the meat off and maybe he will like to chew it then.

Tracey

Great article on bones. I give my 2 dogs brisket bones which they love but now I have a rather difficult situation on my hand. one of my dogs has been very dominant and i start off and give 1 bone to each but my 2nd dog won't touch it because he is too scared too because the other dog is so protective of the bones. I have tried separating both dogs but the dominant dog will eat his and the other dog will just look at it, obviously scared to eat it. I'm thinking this has come about where previously the dominant dog has had a go at the other dog and now that dog will not touch the bones - any ideas on what I can do?

RobertTracey

Hi Tracey, I would suggest travel crates. Buy them just the right size where its nice and cozzie, almost tight inside for them. That can be their little safe place. If both dogs get a crate for feed time i think the issue wont exist.

John Brazier

I give my ladradoodle neck bones (which he loves and demolishes). They are quite meaty and seem relatively soft . Do you know of any issues with them?