Are you scared to feed your dog Raw Bones? Does your dog swallow them whole & you are too scared to risk it? Why do you even need to feed your dog Bones?
Let’s talk about Bones! A can be scary topic for some so we are going to have a look at how to pick the right bones for your dog. And I can hear some of you saying my dog just swallows things whole without chewing and you’re terrified, well keep reading we’ve got you covered!
It’s important to understand about the different types of bones and pick one that’s just right so you can relax knowing you are reducing the risk of choking.
Bones play a vial role in your dogs diet, in three significant ways. Firstly, they provide the calcium & minerals required to grow and maintain their own skeletons.
Secondly they are vital to maintain clean healthy teeth. Chewing, and gnawing on a nice meaty bone allows your dogs to clean their own teeth perfectly.
It always makes me giggle a little at all the toothbrushes and toothpastes for dogs that are out there - give a dog a bone and they clean their own teeth instinctively! All dogs know how to chew. They instinctively search out things like sticks to chew on to clean their own teeth. Nature & evolution over millennia ensured that all wolves and wild dogs maintained the vital tools to survive - their teeth. If they could not clean their teeth, they rotted, and the animal died.
Thirdly, They are a great boredom buster - most dogs love to chow down on a nice meaty bone!
How do you pick the right bone, what bones can they eat?
There are 2 types of bones in your dogs life - the entertaining teeth cleaning type and the 100% edible type.
And this is where picking the size of the bone relative to your dogs size is vital to minimise any risk of swallowing it whole. Small dogs, pick smaller bones, larger dogs pick larger bones! You are not going to give your mastiff a chicken neck and expect him to chew it up nicely - it’ll be gone in two chomps, likewise your’e not going to give your Chihuahua a giant leg bone and expect him to get stuck into it too much!
So, what do these different categories of bones look like?
Edible bones are just that - bones that can be completely consumed like chicken or turkey necks, frames, wing tips, feet. These are the softest on the edible bone scale.
Next one up in the edible scale is brisket bones or soup bones - basically any bone that is not a weight bearing bone. Things like Beef or Kangaroo tails also fall into this category - non-weight bearing and not as dense, Vertebra like lamb bones are some of my dogs absolute favourites.
The next edible cut of bone is a bit controversial - Rib bones. They are not weight bearing bones and aren’t very dense - but these can splinter so what I like to do it watch all 4 of our dogs closely, let them eat off all the meaty goodness and have a decent chew - then take them off them before they get a chance to shatter the ends.
The second type of bone is for pure enjoyment, these are much larger meaty bones and are all harder and weight bearing bones (legs). Do not be tempted to buy one of those huge marrow bones you see in the supermarkets that have been sawn in half to expose the marrow. Marrow is very rich and high in fat and will cause vomiting or diorhea or worse still, a pancretaic attack!
If the bone is intact and not sawn in half they are a fantastic recreational bone for larger dogs.
PLEASE DO NOT FEED YOUR DOG DEHYDRATED BONES OF ANY KIND. THE SPLINTER AND SHATTER JUST LIKE COOKED BONES DO. AVOID THAT ISLE AT YOUR LOCAL PET STORE.
Fun fact - Dogs have 42 teeth and they all vary in size from the little cute pegs in the front, the long strong canines on the side and the flatter slab teeth in the back. They all have a job to do enabling your little furball to rip and tear a carcass and grind it down to enable digestion.
Different shaped bones are chewed differently. Whole chicken frames for example are eaten using the tear and grind method - the little pegs at the front and the flatter slab teeth at the back.
Longer bones like ribs or legs are chewed using the canines and the back slab teeth. So, Give your dog a variety of different shaped bones to make sure they get the chance to clean ALL their teeth.
There are some other fantastic options to bones to make sure your dogs gets his calcium and mineral needs met. Shark Cartridge is one of my favourite bone alternatives and most dogs love them. Packed full of calcium and glucosamine - they are perfect edible toothbrushes!
A great option is also to include a meal supplement between bone days - this will ensure all the trace minerals and calcium requirements are met. Heathy Bones Meal Supplement has you covered!
Pick your bones understanding there are 2 types - edible and recreational. Pick your size based on your dogs size, mix up the cuts and shapes of the bones to ensure all those teefs get cleaned!
Get The Calcium and Mineral Balance Right
10% to 15% of your dog’s total diet needs to be bone. Puppies need at least 12% and up to 15% bone.
Your dog needs a steady supply of minerals and trace minerals. Along with enzymes from proteins, minerals are important cofactors that fire all of the metabolic processes in your dog’s body. If your dog is missing minerals, things can go very, very wrong. He can develop crippling joint disease, heart issues, seizures and more. That might sound frightening, but it’s easy to get this step right with bones.
Bone is about 65% minerals, including phosphorus, magnesium and zinc … & most importantly, calcium. Calcium & phosphorus work synergistically in your dog’s body to move his muscles & control all of his body functions. So your dog needs a steady supply of these minerals. Meat without any bone at all contains a lot of phosphorus & very little calcium. If you fed your dog an all-meat diet without calcium, he would pull all of the calcium from his bones to get enough to move his muscles and control body processes. So if the diet is too low in calcium, you’ll often see bone & joint disease … especially in growing puppies. This is where you can substitute the bone matter with our JOINT SUPPORT MEAL SUPPLEMENT to ensure the calcium requirements are met.
If your dog were a wolf in the wild, he would eat whole animals like deer and rabbits. This type of wild prey averages about 12% bone with little variation. In fact, eggs are 12% shell (another source of calcium found in our Joint Support Meal Supplement).
So 10% to 15% of your dog’s total diet needs to be bone. Puppies need at least 12% and up to 15% bone to support their skeletal growth and development of adult teeth.
It’s important that your dog’s bone is raw … cooking bones will cause them to dry out and this can create dangerous sharp edges & they will shatter and splinter!
Raw Diet Foundation: Minerals
To keep your dog’s bone content in the 12% to 15% range, you need some of his meats to have the bone in them. Start with the meaty bones you can find at your butcher or local pet store.It’s important to make sure the bone matches the size of your dog. A 3 kilo Chihuahua won’t be able to chew through a beef rib bone, but a 50 kilo Rottweiler certainly can.
If your dog can’t eat all of the bone, then it’s not a good source of minerals. Make sure your dog can completely eat the bone. You’ll also want to stay away from pieces your dog can swallow whole. If your butcher cuts up his ox tails into 5 cm pieces, your dog will swallow them whole & might not be able to digest them. And they might cause an intestinal blockage.
Try to choose bones that have a lot of joints, like necks, tails and feet … & bones that aren’t weight bearing. Weight bearing bones can break teeth or get stuck in the digestive tract. Meaty bones with a lot of small bones & joints are the safest choice for your dog.
PRO TIP: Dogs have a built-in mechanism for bone safety. If your dog swallows a piece of bone that’s too large to digest, he’ll often just throw it up for a second pass!
Typical Bone Content
Here’s the bone content of common meaty bones you can find at your butcher or local pet store:
Obviously, if you fed your dog nothing but bone-in meats, he would get too much bone. So, in order to give your dog 10% to 15% bone, you need to mix the above bone choices with his meat.You can do this with a little guesswork, or you can do the math.
Find The Percentage Of Bone
The simplest way to figure out how much bone is in your dog’s diet is to know the percentage of bone in the foods you feed.
Let’s say you feed your dog a half a kilo of meat in the morning and a half kilo of chicken necks in the evening. Using the above numbers, you know that chicken necks are 36% bone. So if they account for half of your dog’s food, then his diet would contain half that amount … or 18%. That’s a bit high, so if you fed your dog 750gm meat and 250gm chicken necks, now he would be eating 12% bone, which is perfect!
Here’s another example …Let’s say you bought duck feet on sale at your local pet store. Using the above list, you know that duck feet are 60% bone. If you feed duck feet as half your dog’s meals, his bone content would be 30% … too high! But if you half that again, your dog would get 15% bone. Perfect! So you would feed 3/4 meat and 1/4 duck feet to get to 15% bone.
This is usually all you need to do … it’s fine to estimate the bone content since you don’t have to be exact with the amount of bone to feed. If you’re a bit off, your dog will be just fine. Just make sure you have at least 12% bone for puppies … they need a good supply of calcium to support their growth. A good tip is check their poops - white & crumbly means too much bone content!
If your dog is too small to consume bone or you have a dog who struggles to crunch through bone, you can give a bone substitute. We love Shark Cartilage, it's basically a wonderful Calcium & Glucosamine packed 'DentaStix' without all the chemicals and other yukky ingredients found in products like these... yup, naming and shaming here!
Our Healthy Bones Meal Supplement will ensure they get the quality calcium and trace minerals they need, but with out the fuss and fear associated with feeding a raw meaty bone.