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
  • Obstruction

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.

Recreational Bones

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
  • Tendons
  • 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.



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