Choosing the Right Raw Bones for My Dogs
22 February, 2017
Guest Blog by: Kimberly Gauthier, Dog Nutrition Blogger for Keep the Tail Wagging
One of the scariest things about feeding raw – for me – was giving my dogs raw meaty bones. Raw bones were the one area that veterinarians have done a bang up job warning dog parents about because they see the bad side of raw bones all the time.
- Broken teeth
- Abscesses and infections
- Punctured esophagus
- Punctured digestive tract
Each of these is horribly painful for dogs and terribly expensive for dog parents. While I love taking control of my dogs’ nutrition and I understand that giving them raw bones is important, it’s scary too, right?
Why Dogs Need Raw Bones in their Diet
I give my dogs raw bones for three reasons…
- Teeth cleaning and flossing
- Great neck, shoulder, and jaw workout
- Satisfies a dog’s chew drive
Our dogs LOVE chewing on their bones, and I love the peace that falls over our home when four dogs are busy gnawing away at their bones. And I have seen a difference in my dogs’ teeth and breath thanks to a chewing session.
But it can’t just be any raw bone.
Choosing the Right Bones or My Dogs
I give our dogs raw meaty bones and recreational bones. Raw meaty bones are bones that still have a lot of meat on them like duck necks and can serve as a small meal or part of a meal.
Recreational bones are bones with very little meat and are given to dogs to satisfy their chew drive and clean their teeth; these are not part of my dogs’ meal.
I will only allow my dogs to have bones under supervision and this is how I have been able to determine which bones were right for my dogs. The following are the bones that I love and the bones I avoid.
Raw Meaty Bones
I have yet to find raw meaty bones that don’t work for my dogs, but, to be honest, they’ve only tried three:
- Duck necks
- Turkey necks
- Lamb necks
I don’t give my dogs chicken necks because I don’t feed my dogs chicken due to Rodrigo’s protein allergies.
I like the following bones because they’re too big for the dogs to swallow and they give my dogs a long chew session while still having plenty left to save for the next day. Stock up on freezer bags.
- Beef knuckle bones
- Beef knee caps
I don’t like the following bones because they either splinter (increased risk of internal trauma) or they’re too hard (increased risk of tooth injury).
- Rib bones
- Marrow bones
- Leg bones
Not all raw feeders will agree because every dog is different. Rodrigo is a strong chewer, and I chose bones for my dogs based on his chewing style.
Alternatives to Raw Bones for Dogs
Ultimately, it boils down to what you feel comfortable doing with your dog. I didn’t give my dogs bones for the first year that I fed them a raw diet; today, I order raw bones by the case.
If you’re not there yet, there are alternatives. The following are chews I give my dogs during the winter months to help keep their teeth clean. They’re not as good as raw bones, but they’re a great runner up…
- Bully sticks
- Dehydrated turkey necks
- Kangaroo tails
- Beef gullet
For more options, check out my list of 28 Safe Alternatives to Rawhide Chews and find the perfect chew for your dog.
About the Author: Kimberly Gauthier is the Dog Nutrition Blogger and Pet Food Nutrition Specialist behind Keep the Tail Wagging, a blog about raw feeding and dog nutrition. Kimberly and her boyfriend are raising two sets of littermates in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy a property with plenty of room to run and explore.