Give your Dog a Bone!
Updated: Mar 3
Does your dog need bones in his diet? YES! Here’s why...
Bones and Dental Health.
Bones help provide vital minerals and other important vitamins to your dog. They also reduce plaque buildup, periodontal (gum) disease, and excess tartar growth. Giving a bone to your dog can be equivalent to brushing its teeth, as the chewing and gnawing helps to remove lingering pieces of food.
The Nutritional Aspects of Raw Bones.
Raw food provides most of the nutrients necessary in our dogs’ diets, but giving your dog a bone can be very beneficial to his diet. Raw bones contain many necessary minerals and vitamins such as:
Calcium, which helps strengthen your dog’s bones, aids in kidney and heart function, blood coagulation, and vision health.
Chondroitin and Glucosamine, which are necessary for adequate tendon and tissue repair, as well as gut cell lining health.
Collagen and elastin, which are natural sources of amino acids and can help improve skin and coat health as well as help heal the gut lining.
Bones also contain other antioxidants including vitamin E, A, and K2, which help to ward off oxidation and cellular stress.
Bones do provide extra calories as well, which is great for active or working dogs. However, if you are watching your dog's weight or he doesn’t get much exercise, be sure you adjust the amount of their regular meals to accommodate for the increased calories they will be consuming.
Bones Help Break Destructive Habits.
When you give your dog a bone it has been shown that it helps with mental stimulation.
Bones can also help promote good habits for your dog. If your dog constantly licks his paws, scratches, or exhibits other destructive behaviors, a bone can help distract them and keep them entertained. Dogs are natural chewers, so giving your dog a sanctioned treat will also help to keep him away from your favorite slippers!
Bones and Puppies
Bones are extremely beneficial in adult dogs, however are bones good for puppies?
The short answer, Yes!
Even from a young age, dogs have a physical and mental need to chew. Raw bones help strengthen jaw, shoulder, skull, and neck muscles. Bones can also provide a fun and tasty activity for teething dogs, and can be used to train your puppy to distinguish between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable to chew.
How do I introduce marrow bones into my dog’s diet?
If your dog is new to raw bones, introduce them slowly. Pick a space where you can contain your pet (on an old towel on the floor, in the kitchen, or outside) and give your dog the bone for about 15-20 minutes to start (and always monitor your pet). Because the marrow in a raw bone is very rich, dogs with sensitive digestive systems (or those unaccustomed to bones in their diet) can experience loose stools if they consume too much in one sitting. Pay attention to how your dog’s digestive system responds, and adjust accordingly. If you notice loose stools, cut back on the time he has with the bone. If all goes well (no loose stools), raw marrow bones can be fed up to three times a week. Be aware any excess calcium that your dog doesn’t need will be excreted, and you may notice some sandy texture in their stools. This is normal.
Here are some tips on how to feed raw bones:
Always monitor your pet. Never leave a dog with a bone unattended. Dogs should be kept in monitored space and the bone should be removed if you notice large chunks being bitten off or if your dog appears to be distressed in any way.
Pick an area that can be easily cleaned. Bones are raw meat products and should be handled accordingly--always wash hands and any surfaces thoroughly after they have touched raw meaty bones.
Choose the right size bone for your dog. For big dogs or dogs that are power chewers or gulpers, bigger bones or bones with lots of connective tissue like tendons are better bets to encourage chewing and prevent choking. Smaller dogs can handle medium sized or smaller marrow bones (soft bones like chicken feet and wings or turkey necks are also good choices for smaller breeds).
Don’t leave bones lying around. Whatever your dog doesn’t eat in one sitting should be safely stored, refrigerated, and used within 2-3 days. Once the bone has been picked clean of all the yummy bits, take the bone away and discard it. Bones left lying around will dry out and become brittle, and your dog could risk breaking a tooth as they chew on it.
Never feed cooked bones. Cooked bones become brittle and may splinter, increasing the risks of choking or ingesting large pieces of bone that could damage delicate tissues in their digestive tract.
So, if you are looking to improve your dog’s health and wellness, occasionally adding bones to his routine can help. Follow the tips above to do it safely and make it an enjoyable experience for everyone!
For more reading: