(Update: We’ve reviewed our blog on raw bones to reflect changes in the research and recommendations from specialists.)

Bones are good for your furbabies, right? And, surely, they’re good for dogs.

Feeding raw bones seems like the natural thing to do and I get so many people ask me about bones, so I decided to blog about it!

Lamb’s Leg (Femur). Courtesy of Colins Butchery!

The Rules

First things first, NEVER feed your furbabies cooked bones! Cooked bones can splinter easily, perforating the intestines, stomach, and mouth. This can cause serious damage and may even result in death! I’ve seen it before and that’s why I’m always super worried when paw-parents tell me their furbabies have ingested cooked bones!

So, as long as the bones are raw, are they safe? Not quite. Some bones are too hard, fracturing teeth which is very, very painful. Raw bones also pose a problem with bacterial contamination, especially when they’re sitting around for a super long time at room temperature.

There are a few things that you should consider before feeding your furbabies raw bones.

1. Size

The bigger the better right? Not quite. While it is true that the bones shouldn’t be too small – some silly dogs try to swallow everything – big bones can be too large for a small dog to chew. Big bones that break easily can also be problematic because these shards can cause constipation and damage to the gastrointestinal tract. I usually make sure I pick a bone that will stay intact if Chu chews on it for a couple of hours.

 

2. Which part of the “skeleton” is best?

Colin from Colins Butchery has helped me investigate which part of bones are best for dogs!

We cracked the centre bit of the bone and some sharp splinters came off which can be harmful to your pup.

The “joint” part that has been sectioned off. This part of the bones has a softer texture and would be more suitable.

This is a section of the knee joint which is much softer than the “middle” part of the leg bone. It doesn’t splinter.

Ribs! The ribs are nice and pliable which means no broken teeth.

3. How many bones/often per week should I give?

It all depends on how much of the bone your dog is actually eating. Some dogs don’t eat that much and would rather nibble and lick the meat off. Some dogs, on the other hand, will devour the whole thing in 1 hour! Always check their poo consistency the next day, if it is too “boney” then pull back on the amount that you are giving them as it can cause constipation.

4. Raw chicken carcass – Yes or No?

No! Chicken carcasses are way too brittle and I’ve had a Labrador swallow a carcass whole! The carcass has to be removed a few days later with an endoscope.

There’s also new research from the University of Melbourne showing that eating raw chicken is significantly linked with paralysis in dogs. The syndrome is known as acute polyradiculoneuritis for which there is no known cure.

5. How long can my dog be chewing on the raw bone?

I only let Chu chew on his bone for around 30mins to an hour, depending on how hot the weather is. There’s always the risk of bacterial overgrowth. With that said, now that Chu is older, I have stopped feeding him raw bones (as his stomach is getting more sensitive) and tend to stick to other chews such as lamb’s ear.

6. Should I supervise?

You must always supervise your furbaby when they are chewing on raw bones! Remember that raw bones are choking hazards!

7. Any downsides to feeding raw bones?

The biggest downside: the risk of fracturing your furbaby’s teeth!

In general, there are many risks to feeding raw bones. Besides fracturing their teeth (which will require extraction of the affected tooth), your dog can be exposed to bacterial contamination when ingesting raw bones. And this is a calculated risk you’ll decide on. Many people think that bones are the best way to clean teeth but that’s been disproven. Studies have shown that wild cats and dogs have similar rates of dental disease even despite eating raw bones.

There are many other alternatives and things that you can do to help keep their teeth clean instead of only feeding raw bones! To find out more on how you can help look after your furbaby’s teeth, check out this link.

If you’re feeding raw bones, go to a trusted local butcher, the bones will be of much better quality. I personally love Colins Butchery. If you’re unsure, talk to your vet and they’ll be able to weigh out the pros and cons with you.

Always get human grade meat only for your furbabies! Chu’s favourite style of meat!

 

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