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Raw Bones for Dogs: A Pet Parent’s Guide to Safety and Nutrition

Giving a dog a bone has been the ultimate form of loving indulgence since the cave man tossed one to his faithful companion.


Just ask the old man who played knick-knack-paddy-whack. Giving a dog a bone seems like a fun thing to do! {Sorry if you now have This Old Man stuck in your head. 😅}


But giving the right bone to the right dog isn’t as straightforward it would seem.


Today, I’m going to give you everything you need to know about giving safe dog bones to your pooch, including the bone unsurpassed for its nutrition and chewing satisfaction:  the RAW MEATY BONE.


You’ll learn: 

  • The key health benefits of raw bones for your dog.

  • What to watch for when feeding raw meaty bones to dogs

  • How to select and source the safest and most appropriate bones.


Let's dive into the benefits of incorporating raw, meaty bones into your dog's diet safely and effectively. There’s a lot to chew on!


Benefits of Raw Bones for Dogs 


Dem bones, dem bones, dem raw meaty bones!


Feeding raw bones to your dog companion isn't just about giving them a tasty treat – it's also about providing some serious health perks. Let's dig into why incorporating raw bones into your dog's diet can be a game-changer:


1. Dental Health: Gnawing on raw bones is like nature's toothbrush for dogs. The act of chewing helps scrape away plaque and tartar buildup, keeping your pup's chompers clean and healthy. Plus, it can help prevent dental issues down the road, like gum disease and tooth decay.


2. Nutritional Boost: Raw bones are packed with essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and protein, which are crucial for your dog's overall health and well-being. 


Bone marrow is a nutrient-rich substance found inside raw bones, often considered a superfood for dogs. It’s packed with essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that support strong bones, muscles, immune function, joint health, and a shiny coat.

Dog chewing on raw bone

Marrow is high in fat and calories, so it’s a good source of energy for active dogs, but beware for couch potatoes. Offer marrow in moderation, especially for dogs with weight management issues or sensitive stomachs. Simply scoop out the marrow and build up your pup’s tolerance slowly. You can even buy bones with the marrow already removed for overweight dogs.


3. Mental Stimulation: Dogs are natural-born chewers, and giving them raw bones to gnaw on provides much-needed mental stimulation and enrichment. It keeps their minds engaged and helps alleviate boredom and anxiety, leading to a happier and more content pooch.


4. Natural Behavior: Chewing on bones is instinctual for dogs – it's what they would do in the wild to clean their teeth and satisfy their need to chew. By providing raw bones, you're allowing your dog to engage in this natural behavior, which can promote overall well-being and happiness.


How to Choose Safe Dog Bones


➤➤The most important rule to follow: ALWAYS monitor your dogs when they are chewing on bones. Be mindful that your animal doesn’t try to swallow the entire bone or bite off chunks that could become choking hazards.


Dogs with a history of pancreatitis, those with compromised immune systems, or pets prone to gastrointestinal blockages may not handle raw bones well. 


Additionally, puppies and senior dogs with weaker teeth might be at risk of dental damage. It's crucial for pet owners to consult their veterinarian to determine if their dog's health condition permits the safe inclusion of raw bones in their diet.


Young puppies, those with baby teeth, should begin with soft rope toys or or firm, fabric covered toys, NOT bones. Because their teeth are deciduous, the goal at this stage is to help them learn to safely chew on appropriate objects of different sizes and shapes.


Gulpers, dogs who swallow everything whole, aren’t suited for raw meaty bones UNLESS you choose knuckle bones that are too big to swallow.


Choosing Raw Bones for Dogs


There’s a lot to consider when choosing safe raw bones for dogs. First, we’ll tackle recreational bones vs. nutritional bones.


Recreational Bones

These raw, uncooked bones are not meant to be ingested, they are meant as an outlet for your dog’s chewing instinct and are perfect for tooth cleaning and boredom busting. 


These bones can be given 2-3 times per week in general, but take into consideration your dog’s chewing style, age, and health restrictions.


Choose bones that are sourced in the US and provide a variety of proteins, like beef, bison, venison, and lamb.


Knuckle and elbow bones encourage chewing with the side and back teeth, cleaning the canines and molars.


Size matters! Danger lies in choosing bones that are too small for your dog. Too-big bones aren’t really a concern. A good rule of thumb is to measure the size of your dog’s head length, nose to the back of the head, and use that as a minimum size.


Because these bones are raw, meaty, and oh-so tasty, they can also make a mess! Choose a designated place for your pup to chew, either outdoors or inside on a surface that can be cleaned with hot, soapy water.


Wash your hands after handling raw bones and thoroughly wash the surface where your pup enjoyed their bone to minimize the risk of bacterial infection. Just like your mother always said, good hygiene is important!


Recreational raw meaty bones

Safe Recreational Bone Choices


Small dogs or gentle chewers:

  • Small beef ribs

  • Lamb shank

  • Small knuckles or elbows.


Medium dogs or medium chewers:

  • Small lamb ribs

  • Longer beef ribs

  • Medium knuckles

  • Lamb shank


Large dogs and more aggressive chewers:

  • Large meaty knuckle bones that

  • Large elbows

  • Extra long/large beef ribs

Nutritional Bones

Unlike recreational bones, these raw, uncooked bones are meant to be chewed, swallowed, and digested. 


Typically soft and edible, nutritional bones offer significant health benefits when included in a dog's diet. These bones, often sourced from poultry like chicken, duck, or turkey, are rich in calcium, phosphorus, and other essential minerals that contribute to a dog's bone health and overall vitality. 


Safe Nutritional Bone Choices


Nutritional raw bones for dogs

Puppies:

  • Chicken necks


Small dogs or gentle chewers:

  • Chicken necks

  • Chicken/duck feet

  • Chicken wings


Medium dogs or medium chewers:

  • Chicken backs/frames

  • Rabbit carcass

  • Chicken necks, NOT for gulpers

  • Duck necks

  • Chicken wings, NOT for gulpers

  • Small chicken thighs

  • Chicken or duck feet, NOT for gulpers

  • Small lamb ribs


Large dogs and more aggressive chewers:


  • Turkey/duck necks

  • Chicken or duck legs/thighs, NOT for gulpers

  • Chicken backs/frames

  • Chicken or duck feet, NOT for gulpers

Where to Find Raw, Meaty Bones


Finding quality raw, meaty bones for your dog involves knowing where to look and what to look for. Here are some reliable sources:


Independent, Specialty Pet Food Stores: Natural pet food stores like The Healthy Animal Healing Center often carry frozen or refrigerated bones. At The Healthy Animal Healing Center, we research our suppliers to ensure they meet our standards of quality and are sourced in the US with high-integrity practices.


Local Butchers: These places often have fresh, high-quality bones that are by-products of their meat cuts. You can ask for the specific type of bone you need.


Online Suppliers: There are numerous online retailers that specialize in raw pet foods and can ship frozen bones directly to your home. Ensure you choose a reputable supplier to guarantee the quality and safety of the bones.


Farmers' Markets: Local farmers at these markets often sell raw bones and can be a great source of fresh, organic options.


➤When purchasing raw bones, always ensure they are fresh and stored properly to avoid contamination. 


➤Additionally, ask about the source of the bones to ensure they come from healthy, well-raised animals.


Important Tips for Choosing Safe, Raw Bones for Dogs


Follow these important tips to ensure your pups are safe while enjoying their bones, and that the bones are safe for your dogs:


Make sure bones are raw, not smoked or cooked. NEVER feed your dog rawhide, “dental” chews found in the grocery store made of rice, glycerine, and flour, etc., nylon or plastic bones, or commercial bone chews.


Avoid pork neck bones and weight-bearing bones like hindlimb and forelimb bones (tibia, fibula, radius, ulna) as they can splinter and/or cause choking and GI blockage.


Remove the bone when your dog is finished or when it gets too small. 


Trim off excess meat, but leave a bit to entice less enthusiastic chewers.


Ground bones are excellent additives to food. Any bone can be eaten when it’s ground.


Separate dogs when feeding bones, even if they get along well. Even the most well behaved pooches can become quite territorial over such a tasty treat!


Pick up and dispose of bones when chewing time is over. You always want to be able to monitor when your dog is chewing, and hidden bones mean hidden trouble!


Store bones in the freezer and thaw them, one at a time, to give to your dog.


There’s a lot to chew on here! Your dog will be a happy camper to receive a raw, meaty bone for a treat. 


If you have questions about which bone is appropriate for your dog, reach out to The Healthy Animal Healing Center. We carry a variety of frozen, ethically sourced raw meaty bones to satisfy every canine in your home and are always available to answer your nutrition and safety questions.


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