A Frank Discussion About Bones

First let me start by saying that bones should never be fed unattended, always better to be safe than sorry. People die all the time eating soft things like ham sandwiches so when feeding bones you should probably be available in case anything unexpected happens.

Unfortunately too many dogs & cats never get the chance to chew on a healthy bone.  Sure they get giant beef legs and knuckles or commercially prepared dental chews. Often the bones are smoked (cooked) and dental chews can be full of unwanted ingredients. Also I was sure to use the phrase healthy bone. Cooked/smoked bones are dangerous; ask any bone carver what they’d prefer to carve with a cooked bone or a raw bone? The answer is always a raw bone because cooked bones break in unpredictable ways. This is doubly true for cooked bone chewed by a pet. When a raw bone breaks, depending on the type of bone, it chunks off in a way that the carnivores gut can digest appropriately, whereas a cooked/smoked bone has no give at all and can break teeth or can shard off in a way your pet’s gut could find troublesome.

For healthy teeth and gums all you need to give your dog or cat is healthy, raw, bone bearing meat.  An example would be turkey necks or meaty beef ribs. Big Beef, Bison and Venison knuckles & femur bones (often called recreational bones) are not a good idea. Why? Because a dog can hurt themselves on these bones. These ungulates weigh in at anywhere from hundreds to well over a thousand pounds. The bones it takes to support those animals are extremely dense and could certainly be harder than your pets teeth or digestive system could handle.

The right kind of bones from the large ungulates are non weight bearing bones like short cut ribs, neck and tail. The weight bearing bones just pose to much of a risk for most dogs. We have people who swear that they are OK for their dog but there is risk with these bones.

The best bones come from avians primarily because they are hollow. There are a variety of birds to choose from, chicken & turkey are the most common and occasionally you can find waterfowl like duck & goose. I also very much like rabbit because of how small they are. Dogs and cats are not evolved to take down huge ungulates, they are evolved to eat small mammals and birds. They would not cook these animals and they would not pick around the bones, they eat the entire carcass.

We’re big fans of turkey necks, chicken necks & carcass and for really big dogs whole meaty lamb necks are a great option. These are fantastic bones to use regularly with little to no problems associated with feeding them. You do need to ensure the necks are size appropriate, (small necks for cats and toy dogs) ensuring the pet has to chew the neck to eat it. What you’re trying to encourage is chewing. If it can be sword swallowed then it is to small.

For more information on bones and our pet carnivores please check out these websites.

http://www.peterdobias.com/community/0201/05/raw-bones-for-dogs/

http://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-chunks-and-bones-is-it-my-cats-teeth

http://www.rawmeatybones.co.uk/articles-others/docArticle1.pdf – PDF File

http://www.scribd.com/doc/35213280/Study-Oxtails-Control-Formation-of-Dental-Calculus-in-Beagles