Raw bones for dogs

Having now lived with Dogs for over 18 years, I am amazed at all I have learned along the way. I just wish I knew when I was younger what I know now.

The first dog I had lived to a great age of 16 years, but he sure had his fair share of problems along the way. He cost us an absolute fortune in vet bills. The things I have learned since could have saved us a lot of money and Sam the stress of undergoing veterinary treatments on way too regular a basis.

Raw meaty bones

The benefits of feeding your dog raw bones are quite impressive. It was something I always shied away from in the past, but I am a total convert. This is not to say that my dogs (Faye is pictured below) are only fed raw foods.

I know many dog owners feed a strictly raw diet. To be perfectly honest, I just don’t think we have the funds or the time to get involved in food preparation for three dogs on a twice daily basis. What I do ensure, however, is that all three dogs get a raw bone each at least twice a week.

It is always advisable to ease a dog into raw meat or bones gradually, especially if they are not used to them. Once you are sure they can handle the different food then you will be glad you took the time to introduce them into their diet.

Dog chewing on a raw bone

Advantages of raw bones for dogs

There are quite a few advantages to feeding raw bones to dogs. First we will look at the main benefits and then examine each one in turn.

  • Helps to keep their teeth clean
  • Stops bad dog breath
  • Stops problems with their anal glands
  • Keeps them occupied
  • Improves their overall health

How to clean a dog’s teeth

You can, of course use a dog toothpaste and a toothbrush to clean a dog’s teeth. I wrote about teeth cleaning for dogs on my site and included a recommended toothpaste and toothbrush Kit. I, however, prefer a hands-off approach! If you supply your dog with a good few bones each week then they will do the job for you.

It is great that we don’t actually have to learn how to clean dog’s teeth ourselves. As long as we are fine with them munching on bones we can just sit back and let them teach us! A nice hard bone will last your dog hours if not weeks. Hard bones are very tough for the dogs to eat, but they will keep going back to them over and over for a chew. This biting and scraping action will strip the plaque and tartar away from their mouths.

I really wish that our first dog had been supplied with bones. I simply never gave it enough thought, and the result? He had teeth removed at great cost and he had extremely bad dog breath.

How to stop bad dog breath

This is part of cleaning dogs’ teeth. In nearly all cases your dog will have bad breath because its teeth are not clean. The bad breath smell many of us associate with dogs does not have to be tolerated. None of the three dogs I have smell. Well, apart from a recent gassy dog issue, but that is another story!

My dogs have lovely fresh breath. There is not a hint of discoloration on their teeth, and I can honestly say there has never been any kind of bad smell coming from their mouths. This is because if they are not munching on a fresh, raw meaty bone, they have settled down with an old bone for a good chew.

Anal gland problems

Not the nicest of topics, I know, but it is one that many dog owners have to deal with. The sacs of many dogs are a real problem. We had to take Sam to the vet every few months to have them emptied. You can do it yourself, but I just couldn’t face doing it. I guess I was just not prepared for the awful smell.

Dog glands naturally empty themselves, but a lot of owners find this is not the case. It is much more likely to be a problem in later life for many dogs. The problem occurs because of a lack of fiber. Raw bones, once again, are the answer. Feeding relatively soft bones to your dog will go a long way to solving the problem. The fiber from the softer bones will pass through your dog and naturally help to empty the sacs.

If your dog “scoots” its bum along the ground on occasion, then it is time to give the dog a bone.

An occupied dog makes for a happy owner

This is one aspect of looking after dogs that shouldn’t be overlooked. Sometimes we would just like a little time to ourselves. Giving the dog a job to do will give you some peace. There is no job a dog likes better than when it involves food. A nice big bone can keep your dog occupied for hours and will allow you a little time to get on with whatever you want uninterrupted. We all like a little peace now and then!

General health benefits

Dogs naturally eat raw food. There has never been a case of anyone reporting a wild dog first sparking up the barbie before they ate a nice portion of ribs. Raw is natural. Raw meat and bones will give your dog a lovely coat, a healthy mouth and a sparkle in their eye. Dogs fed a proportion of raw food have smaller, harder stools and actually eat less than those supplied with only dried food.

A few health reminders

Never feed cooked bones, as they are extremely dangerous. They shatter easily.

Freeze pork bones for three weeks before feeding as there is a very slight chance of the dogs getting a fatal bacterial disease. This is extremely unlikely, but it is better to be safe.

Remove the thin bone in chicken thighs as it is very sharp. The rest of a whole chicken is fine though. Dogs love chicken or turkey necks.


Above all, give it a try. Why not talk to your vet first if you have any concerns? If your vet tells you that raw bones are not good for dogs, then go find yourself a new and sensible vet.

I am not saying just feed your dogs raw ( I don’t). It may be too expensive, too time consuming or just not to your liking. What I hope you will get out of this is to slowly introduce a few bones to your dog’s diet.

May the Doggie Force be with you all.

Raw dog food recipes ebook and an introduction on how to feed homemade raw dog foodNote: ThatMutt.com released a raw feeding guide with 10 raw dog food recipes.

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32 thoughts on “Raw bones for dogs”

  1. I’ve always given my dogs raw bones instead of toothbrushes and they’ve all been happy about it, although some have better technique than others (and some are a little bit lazy and wait for others work their way down to the good stuff!). When it comes to feeding a dog “only raw” food, how does that work – for the part that isn’t meat?

  2. Great tips! I have a hard time giving Gus bones, however. He has an insatiable urge to bury them and always refuses to eat them. He’ll dig one up and then bury it somewhere else. He’s a bit nutty!

  3. Esther, those who follow a strict “Raw Diet” seem to spend quite some time in the Kitchen. You have to ensure they get the right supply of Oils, Vitamins, raw fruit and Veggies etc. I think it would be very time consuming although I have never really tried it. I could see it being quite costly. We have friends who do it, however and swear it is neither too expensive or that it takes too much time. They have a very friendly Butcher though, who gives them a big bag of Meaty Bones for free each week. It’s worth asking if you have a regular place that you buy Meat.

    Apryl, Gus sounds like fun! Have you tried him with Chicken Wings? They are quite small and meaty. He may munch it insted of burying.

    Lindsay, thanks for the oportunity to guest Post. I enjoyed it. I hope Ace starts smelling “Boney Fresh” soon!

  4. We have a really tough time finding raw bones. I know that sounds crazy but when I ask at the meat counter (they don’t have any out) for marrow bones, etc they look at me like I’m crazy. I’m in Durham, NC. Any suggestions? Our dogs LOVE them.

    1. You can go to a meat processing plant especially during hunting season, and they will have raw bones from elk, deer, etc that the dogs really like.

    2. Try your butcher. I’m in Raleigh and you can go to the Meat House or Grand Asia Market (they’re super cheap here!). Good luck!

  5. Lindsay Stordahl


    Don’t natural pet stores usually sell them? I am not sure because I hardly ever buy bones for my dog (need to get on that). We have an organic meat store that keeps the good bones and they sell them for dogs. I’ve thought about asking for the bones at the meat counter at the grocery store as well. I think they will look at me like I’m crazy.

  6. We don’t really have an organic meat store in teh area that I’m aware of or really a natural pet store. My BF’s mom lives in NH and they are readily available in the regular grocery store. Hmmm…I’ll continue my research! 🙂

  7. Hi Lindsay,

    Very informtive post. I always thought raw bones were dangerous for dogs, that their sharp edges could harm the stomach or intestinal walls… you know, if the dogs swallow big chunks. Is there any danger at all, or are bones destroyed with the dog’s gastric juices? What’s your view?

  8. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’m uncomfortable feeding my dog small bones, like chicken bones. Although I’ve heard they are safe, I’m still nervous about it like you said. I’ve heard of dogs choking on the small bones, whether it’s true or not I’m not sure.

    I feed my dog large bones so he can’t break off the pieces. Instead he has to really work at the bone and can chew it for hours.

  9. I recently started giving our mini schnauzer raw bones and she absolutely loves them. As with any other bones you should supervise. If any small pieces come off you can immediately take them away. I learned on a schnauzer site that the very best raw bones are the knuckle bones…they are soft and really keep the teeth clean. However I have not been able to find any.
    Does anyone know of a good place to find raw bones in the Fargo/Moorhead area?

  10. Lindsay Stordahl

    Sunmart sells knuckle bones. I’m sure all the stores that sell pet products also carry different types of healthy bones. The Natural Pet Center (on 13th Avenue) is a great place. You can also buy bones at butchers such as Meats by John and Wayne on 45th Street and 17th Avenue. I’m sure even PetCo and PetSmart have some options.

  11. Great post! We’ve been feeding raw since Biggie was 3 months old and it’s not too expensive, though getting started is sort of a hassle. You have to learn a new way of feeding. But once you get a system down, it doesn’t take that long. Biggie always gets great compliments on his teeth and his breath!

    (I am still working on a series of posts on the raw diet – work is just getting in the way!)

    BTW – most supermarkets do have RMBs available, you just have to look (and ask). Go to the butcher counter and ask for chicken necks or backs, or beef marrow bones, or beef ribs. Many supermarkets, even if they don’t have a full time, fully staffed butcher counter, process and wrap their meat once or twice a week when they get the meat in bulk frmo a butcher. If they don’t have the chicken backs the day you ask, ask them when they do most of their packing and wrapping. Some markets will even set it aside for you if you call in advance.

    Lindsay, if you want to start Ace off with some fresh chicken bones (which are very soft), you can always give him a whole wing (drumette through tip) and hold onto one end of it while he chews the other end. If he tries to gulp it, take it away. He’ll figure out quickly that if he wants to keep that delicious wing he has to eat it politely and chew it.

  12. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for the tips, Biggie! I gave Ace his first raw bone last night. He loved it of course. Even the cats were interested.

  13. We have 3 dogs (old Harrier, 3 year old lab/dobie mix, and a 9 month old Bloodhound/lab mix). I’ve always thought raw bones were a good idea – my rottie loved the big knuckle bones! I want to start feeding them raw bones, but we’re a bit concerned about our youngest member of the family, as she tends to eat EVERYTHING, including some things that aren’t particularly good for her (vinyl hose, vanilla candle, plastic plant pots, etc). Fortunately, everything seems to pass through her just fine – I plan on watching her closely while she chows on a marrow bone…any suggestions other than that?

  14. Lindsay Stordahl

    I would just supervise them at first like you said and make sure they are not swallowing little pieces of bones that could hurt them. Like Biggie said in the comment above, teach the dog to eat it politely and chew it.

  15. i wish i had stumbled onto this blog ages ago. i know my dog totally loves bones but this is the first i have heard of giving dogs raw bones. forgive for my ignorance after having raised three dogs – -but for some reason i often associated germs, bacteria, parasites, and worms in raw meat….particularly in Asia where the heat and humidity can be so extreme and things spoil fairly quickly…i mean there are places where i can get good raw bones…please enlighten me on the idea of germs and parasites getting into my dog’s system…thank you!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Dogs don’t get sick from bacteria as easily as humans because their digestive systems are different than ours. First of all, they have enzymes in their saliva that kill a lot of bacteria. Second, they have very acidic stomachs that prevent bacteria from colonizing. And also, a dog’s digestive system works really fast to push everything through very quickly. This prevents bacteria from growing as well.

      Here’s a post I wrote about why dog’s don’t get sick from raw meat: http://www.thatmutt.com/2011/03/24/will-my-dog-get-sick-from-eating-raw-meat/

  16. monty

    I went to your website but that ad with the mangled dog face is enough to get me to leave your website. I know your trying to spread the word that dog fighting is bad but to dog lovers that is a horrifying picture to look at. There is no way I can enjoy the content you created with a picture like that on it.


  17. Hey guys!

    I’ve been totally confused by different views on feeding raw bones. Some sites say it’s safe, and others more or less condemn those owners who do feed bones. This site has put me a little more at ease, however, and I am about to order some knuckle bones for my usually destructive collie. 🙂 I’ll have to feed it to him outside, but I’m sure he’ll be quite happy.

    Thank you for the great site and information!

    1. Any bone can be dangerous. Make sure to supervise and make sure your dog is actually chewing rather than breaking off small pieces and swallowing them. You just have to weigh the pros and the cons and do what’s best for your dog.

  18. hiyall

    we feed our dogs raw food and you can easily see the vast improvement in there energy and condition in the months since we started.
    problem is though i cannot find a local source of raw bones.
    all the butchers sell them to resturaunts for making stock.
    and no one else i can find sells them either,just these ones that have been baked until
    they resemble fossils
    does anyone know where i can maybe get them online anywhere at a reasonable price.

    1. I know this is kind of late, but most grocery stores or supermarkets should have raw meaty bones. They sell them in packs of 2-4 and are labeled “beef soup bones” or “beef stock bones”. Just ask the attendant for marrow bones or bones you’d use to make stock and they should be able to either show you or tell you they don’t carry them.

  19. Hi! Loved that you’re for raw bones and I can’t believe all the news now on the web against it! You mentioned that it’s too expensive to feed raw food and just wondering if you’ve heard of a dry dog food called “Black Gold?” I met someone who has a huge German Shepherd that’s a retired police dog and they said that Black Gold was the absolute best. Have you heard of it?

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