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What types of raw bones are safe for dogs?
No matter who you ask, you'll always get a different response about what types of bones are safe for dogs.
Part of the reason for this is because each dog is an individual. The size of the dog makes a difference. So does the dog's chewing style.
(And I'm referring to RAW bones in this post. I generally don't give my dogs cooked bones.)
In this post, I'll tell you about the types of raw bones I give my dogs Ace and Remy and the types of bones I don't give him. Then I'll share some general safety tips for giving a dog raw bones. And then I want to hear from you! What types of raw bones do you give your dog?
What kinds of raw bones are safe for my dog?
There's not really a right answer here. But here is my answer:
Raw chicken and turkey bones are safe for most dogs.
Chicken quarters, whole chickens, turkey thighs, etc.
I feed my dogs all types of raw chicken and turkey bones with their raw dog food. These are considered edible bones, and not “recreational” bones.
Raw chicken and turkey bones are soft, so dogs should have no trouble crunching them up a bit before swallowing. These types of bones are also easy for healthy dogs to digest.
Raw chicken and turkey bones should be safe for dogs of all sizes, you just want to feed pieces of meat with bone that are large enough so your dog can't swallow the pieces whole and potentially choke. For example, my dog Ace is 70 pounds and he could potentially try to swallow a chicken leg. Chicken thighs, on the other hand, are just big enough so he doesn't try to swallow them whole. He has to crunch them up a bit first. Your 70-pound dog could be different.
As another example, turkey necks are not the best for Ace because he tries to swallow them and they could get caught in his throat. On the other hand, turkey necks are perfect for my cats. See what I mean? A chicken wing might be perfect for a small dog's homemade raw diet, but not so much for some larger dogs unless the wing is attached to a larger portion of the chicken.
Are you confused yet?
Just consider your dog's size and chewing style and make sure to supervise until you're both comfortable. When in doubt, feed larger portions such as a chicken quarter or even a whole chicken. Chicken and turkey bones are also soft enough to be ground up in a meat grinder if you prefer that route.
Raw pork and beef bones are not always safe for dogs.
Some dog owners choose to give raw beef and pork bones to their dogs and they've never had any issues.
Personally, I don't include beef or pork bones in my dogs' raw dog food diet for two reasons:
1. I don't want my dogs to hurt their teeth while attempting to break apart these strong bones.
2. I don't want my dogs to swallow large chunks of non-edible beef or pork bones, which I'm pretty sure they would try to do.
For “recreational chewing,” I'm more comfortable giving my dogs Kong-type toys or bully sticks. I'm not saying dogs should never be allowed to have raw beef and pork bones. Some vets recommend them, and several raw dog food companies sell large beef and pork bones for dogs.
I'm just saying I'm not comfortable giving them to my dogs for the reasons I stated, although I will occasionally give Ace a large, round knuckle bone. I'd love to hear what the rest of you do. I am aware many people regularly give their dogs beef knuckle bones, femurs and so on for recreational chewing with no issues.
As I'll keep repeating, a lot depends on your own unique dog and his chewing style. Some dogs will slowly gnaw on large bones without harming their teeth. They also know not to swallow the pieces that break off.
Safety tips on feeding a dog raw bones
Note: For more info on raw feeding, read my ebook “10 Easy Raw Dog Food Recipes.”
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you're new to feeding raw bones. For those of you who already feed raw bones, what are some tips you would add to the list?
1. Always supervise your dog.
If you're like me, you're totally going to hover over your dog the first few times you feed him raw bones. You should've seen me when I first started feeding Ace raw chicken quarters. I would hold onto the food while he ate so he had no choice but to crunch up the bones a bit before gulping.
These days, I have no worries when Ace eats his raw chicken.
2. Know your dog's chewing style.
Does your dog like to take his time and gnaw and chew on bones? Or does he try to break them in half quickly or swallow them whole? Knowing your dog will help you determine which types of bones are safe. As I said above, I don't like to give my dogs pork or beef bones because I know they would try to swallow large, non-edible chunks.
3. Separate multiple pets.
It's always a good idea to separate pets when they eat. Raw food is usually seen as “more valuable” to a dog than dry dog food, so there is a higher risk the dog could get possessive of the raw food. I have a food-obsessed cat that will challenge my other pets when food is involved, so I have to keep him in another room during feeding time for his own health and safety.
4. Feed on a towel or outside.
Dogs won't get sick from raw meat, but don't forget about your own safety. Use common sense and wipe down counters, wash your hands and feed your dog outside or on a towel. I prefer the towel method.
5. Introduce the bones and raw meat slowly.
Some dogs will do OK eating dry food one day and raw food the next. Others may need a little time to transition, especially if you are giving them beef bones with fatty bone marrow. If you're not sure how your dog will do, start out slowly. Here are some raw dog food recipes you can try.
Chicken is actually an excellent food to start out with. Just take the fatty skin off at first since it will give some dogs upset tummies. The chicken bones, on the other hand, will actually help keep the dog's poop firmer. That's always a plus 🙂
OK, now I'd love to hear from you!
What types of raw bones do you give your dog?