How to Choose and Feed Bones Safely

Dogs love bones! But which bones are best and how should you feed them safely?

Bones are a staple food when feeding a balanced raw food diet and are so important for dental/skeletal health.  However there are so many to choose from, and in all different shapes and sizes, so how do you know which ones are the best?  

Follow the guide below to learn more about the types of bones, determine what kinds will suit your pet the best and how to feed them safely! 

Consumable Bones vs. Non-Consumable Bones

Consumable bones are any bone that can be fully eaten by your dog or cat. These bones include chicken necks, turkey necks, lamb necks, elk necks, chicken carcass, chicken wingettes, and turkey wingettes. Knuckle (joint) bones can be consumed for the most part but sometimes include pieces of femur which should not be ingested. Consumable bones should only be given to animals that are raw fed and have been taught to chew bones. We do not recommend that whole consumable bones be given to animals until they have been on a ground raw diet for 3-4 weeks or longer. Animals that do not eat raw have a different gastro-intestinal environment compared to raw fed animals so it’s best to ease your pet into eating whole bones after a switch to raw. This is one of the best ways to avoid impaction.

Non-consumable bones such as femurs and ribs must be given only as recreation and for short periods. Please ensure you monitor your animals closely as these types of bones are not suitable for all pets -see more below.

Breed and Size

The breed of your dog will help you to decide which types of bones will be most appropriate. The size of bone you feed should be large enough that the animal must chew them down into small pieces that can be swallowed. Do not offer any bones that could be consumed in one gulp. Your dog’s snout shape will also determine what types of bones will be best. For example, if you are feeding a short-snouted breed such as a Pug or a Bulldog, they may need to stick to poultry wings and small to medium knuckle bones. At Instincto we cut our bones into various sizes to accommodate all shapes and sizes of dogs.  Cats do well on small consumable bones such as chicken necks.

Healthy Teeth

Bones can save you thousands on veterinary dental bills. However when it comes to dogs, please be aware that some dogs have a stronger bite than others and some dogs are more voracious eaters. Breeds such as pitbulls, mastiffs and other strong-jawed dogs may be able to chew weight-bearing bones (such as femurs) to the point of fracturing their own teeth. Certain dogs will have “softer” or more gentle mouths than others, Turkey or Emu Necks would be beneficial for them, so you need to determine which type of chewer your dog is.

Your dog’s voracity will help you to determine whether or not to feed weight-bearing bones. If you have a breed such as a Labrador Retriever who devours food like a vacuum, you may wish to avoid weight bearing bones altogether, we have Kangaroo Tail or Emu Neck for these type of dogs. The marrow from femur bones is highly nutritious and should not be left out of the raw diet so you can either choose to give your dog a short, monitored chewing session with a femur or simply push out the marrow and feed with a meal. Do not leave femurs out for hours for any dog to chew. Let them lick as much of the marrow out as they can and then help them eat the rest. Then discard the rest of the bone in a safe rubbish bin out of reach of your dog.

Healthy Gut

A raw diet enhances your dog’s overall digestive health. To ensure that intestinal health is maintained, you need to know how often to feed bones and to balance bones in a healthy way. There is such a thing as too much bone and constipation or impaction can occur. This is one of many reasons not to feed consumable bones to kibble-fed animals. Raw fed pets can also receive too much bone. They may become constipated and have hard, yellowish or whiteish stools, so if this happens, you will need to find out why. It is possible you are feeding too many consumable bones. Consumable bones will provide calcium, phosphorus, chondroitin other trace minerals and will bulk up the stool. Normally raw meaty bones will have enough meat on the bone to allow for seamless processing, if you find a white stool exiting you should stop bones and increase liver to assist in constipation, if constipation continues then please see your local vet.

Bones must always be fed raw!

Cooked bones can splinter and cause impaction, perforation of the gut and even death. Never allow your dog to bury bones in the yard for the same reason and to avoid bacterial contamination.

*Disclaimer: At Instincto, we aim to provide the most current, up to date information about feeding Raw safely.  If you have any further questions please contact us! Please use this as a guide only and always check with your holistic Vet if you want more information.

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