Dogs are carnivores. They have teeth and a digestive system designed to eat meat and bones, whether they are Chihuahuas or Great Danes. Your dog will greatly appreciate being given REAL, RAW bones. Just remember to never give your dog cooked bones. Raw bones and marrow are digestible, full of nutrition and help clean teeth. Cooked bones splinter and can cause injury to their mouth or digestive system. Cooked marrow and cooked fat cause diarrhea and can even cause pancreatitis.
Raw bones basically come in two forms, “consumable” and “recreational”. Consumable bones are the small, easily crushed and digested types of bones like those found in raw chicken backs or wings.
Recreational bones are those meant for hours or even days of happy chewing and gnawing which not only give the dog satisfaction but help clean their teeth.
All dogs, especially puppies, have a strong desire to chew bones. If bones aren’t provided, they will take out their chewing frustration on any available object, including your shoes, furniture, etc. Many people give rawhide, but the reality is that rawhide is completely incapable of being digested. If swallowed in large chunks, it can cause an intestinal blockage, resulting in emergency surgery or even death. Furthermore, many rawhide products not produced in the United States are processed with arsenic!! We don’t believe rawhide, in any form, should ever be given to a dog.
The best consumable bones are found in chicken, but remember these should not be weight-bearing bones, like legs. Chicken backs or wings are great but backs are best as they are cheap and come with tiny bits of offal, like heart, liver and kidney, all of which are great sources of nutrition and vitamins.
Healthy dogs are not susceptible to salmonella poisoning the way that humans are. Their gut is much shorter than ours and they have a much stronger stomach acid. Again, this is for the sole purpose of digesting raw meat and bone. Chicken backs and wings are typically consumed in a matter of minutes but they will still clean teeth. Hand washing, as you would do with preparing your own food is all that is required to keep the humans safe from salmonella. You can also feed the raw chicken in their crate if you don’t want them eating it on your rugs, floors or furniture.
The best recreational bones are soup marrow bones. They can be beef, pork, lamb or whatever you can find in your local grocery store’s meat section. If you don’t see them, ask the meat manager, as they will usually cut them for you. These are not fully consumable but give a great deal of chewing satisfaction as they work to get out all that wonderful, nutritious marrow. Once the bone becomes brittle and they start to break off chunks of bone, it should be taken away and discarded. It is still cheaper, safer and more nutritious than rawhide. We buy these bones in quantity and in order to make them last even longer, we freeze them. When it comes time for a bone for our furry friends, we take them from the freezer and pass them out, no thawing required.
If you watch nature channels on TV you will see lions and tigers and bears, etc eating raw meat and bone. If you visit the zoo, you will see the same as they are careful to feed in a species appropriate manner. We should follow suit for our beloved pets.
Even old Mother Hubbard knew this, so take her advice and give your dog a bone.