Which Raw Bones are Safe for Dogs?

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. There are two important factors to consider when deciding which raw bones are safe for your dog:

1. The size of your dog.

2. The dog’s chewing style.

Does he actually chew the bones or does he try to gulp down large chunks?

I’m referring to raw, edible bones in this post.

I generally don’t give my dogs cooked bones because these are not safe. And I don’t give them large raw bones like beef bones for the sake of chewing either.

What kinds of raw bones are safe for my dog?

There’s not really one answer here. So here is my answer when considering my own dogs:

I feed my dogs raw chicken bones, raw duck bones and raw turkey bones. These are generally safe for most dogs.

Examples: Chicken quarters, whole chickens, turkey thighs, duck necks, etc.

I feed my dogs all types of raw chicken, duck and turkey bones with their raw dog food. These are considered edible 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, even if they swallow larger chunks.

Raw chicken, duck and turkey bones are edible for dogs

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. (This risk is rare, though.)

For example, my dog Ace was 70 pounds and he could potentially try to swallow a chicken leg. Chicken thighs, on the other handwere just big enough so he didn’t try to swallow them whole. He had to crunch them up a bit first. Your dog could be different.

As another example, turkey necks are a good option for most dogs because they are easy to crunch up a bit before eating. I can even give turkey necks to my cats.

In summary – choose soft bones that your dog has to chew up a bit before swallowing

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, you can feed the food partially frozen because that often slows a dog down while eating.

Chicken and turkey bones are often soft enough to be ground up in a meat grinder if you prefer that route.

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Are raw pork and beef bones 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 stronger 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 rubber Kong-type toys or bully sticks. Some dogs do OK chewing on raw beef and raw pork bones, but it’s not something I’m comfortable with.

In the comment section below, I would love to hear which bones you feed your dog. Several people have already chimed in, if you would like to read a variety of opinions. I am aware many people regularly give their dogs beef knuckle bones, femurs and so on for recreational chewing with no issues.

The raw dog food company Raw Paws sells a lot of different raw meaty bones for dogs. It’s about knowing your dog’s chewing style.

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

1. Always supervise your dog when you give him raw bones.

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 my dog 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 my new dog Remy eats his raw chicken.

Which raw bones are safe for dogs?
My old dog Ace with 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.

*Get our three FREE raw dog food recipes now! Click Here

3. Separate multiple dogs when you give them bones.

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 actually had a food-obsessed cat who would challenge my other pets when food was involved, so I had to keep him in another room during feeding time! This was for his own safety as he would challenge the dogs that were 4 times his size! Crazy cat.

4. Feed your dog his raw meals on a towel or outside.

Dogs generally 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 raw 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?

Note: For more info on raw feeding, read my ebook “10 Easy Raw Dog Food Recipes.”

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Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re new to feeding raw bones. If you already feed raw bones, let me know your tips in the comments section below.

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Related posts:

Read all of our raw dog food posts HERE.

Are raw turkey bones safe for dogs?

34 thoughts on “Which Raw Bones are Safe for Dogs?”

  1. I think I have a 10-pound wood-chipper. The first time I gave my dog a chicken leg, I expected him to be working on the bone for hours. Nope. I think the bone took less time than the meat! One minute he had half the meat left, then I turned to my computer and when I turned back to him he was surrounded by tiny, bloody chips of chicken bone which he was rapidly consuming.

    I really appreciate you going into what size dog can handle what. I was a little concerned that my dog may be small enough to hurt his teeth on a chicken bone, but this post (and witnessing the Canine Wood-Chipper first hand) has put my mind at ease.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Funny!

      I wish Ace would take his time chewing chicken and turkey bones. Nope. He eats a chicken thigh in about 15-20 seconds. I don’t give him chicken legs because I think he would probably just try to swallow them.

      1. Funny Yes, My dog Oscar is the same, at first, I thought he was lazy as he won’t chew his biscuits just swallows them, and I was concerned, the reason I am on this site is I was checking google search to see if it was ok to feed Oscar raw chicken carcasses, he has been having one every morning for weeks now and is chewing, well just?, I did try him on chicken necks and he just swallowed them whole so stopped that, but someone told me chicken bone was not good for dogs but did not believe that but just to be on the safe side I had to check it out, Thank you, Lindsay, for information on safe bones Oscar is a big boy and weighs 47kgs he is cross Bull Arab/ Wolfhound and is a gentle giant

    2. ROFL “10-pound wood-chipper” Best. Description. EVER! I am totally stealing that.

      My own 10-pound Canine Wood Chipper gets chicken wings, chicken necks, turkey necks, beef ribs, and just recently I introduced pork necks. All fed frozen to slow her down.

      She’s a smart cookie, she knows she needs to eat her “chicken” (every RMB is called chicken) on her bed. The poultry she picks up once and rolls around, back and forth, in her mouth until she’s eaten the whole thing. With beef ribs, she’ll stay on her bed until the bone is clean and then she can take the bone wherever she wants, recreational chewing for several days. It’s so cute, if the bone falls off her bed while she’s eating she picks it up and puts it back on the bed to continue eating.

      In almost five years of raw feeding, she’s regurgitated only two or three bone pieces that she couldn’t digest and we’ve never had a human illness related to her raw eating (bedding and soft toys washed weekly but not necessarily immediately after exposure to raw meat).

      Bonus: Never once had to brush her teeth, but that doesn’t stop the vet and groomer from telling me I’m doing a great job brushing her teeth. 🙂

    3. My 45lb Pit Bull (3yrs old now) is very good about chewing the bones first. Won’t swallow anything whole-as he LOVES to chew. He likes chicken necks a lot but most turkey necks are a bit large, stringy & tough by comparison and my vet said the chicken necks are safer for most dogs. He also loves chicken feet! Great source of collagen. Chews them up in about 30 seconds. Will do the wings sometimes too. But thighs-which I would think he would love-not so much. He looks at me like-“what am I supposed to do with this”?!! Haven’t figured that one out yet.
      As for beef bones-there is one option that he loves and I know is very safe. Beef knee caps!
      They are the soft round cartilage piece on top of the knee bone. Very healthy for them-for joints especially. They are about 6inches around and 3-4 inches thick cut with some beef and fat around them. He can easily and safely gnaw them down in over an hour or two. These are a treat of course-not a meal. Knee caps are hard to come by but my local farm (10% grass fed beef) provides them for me. Vital Essentials Pet food does (or did) sell them frozen if you are lucky enough to get your pet food store to carry them. About $14.00pk of 4. Do not buy the cooked/smoked version dog treats. The chicken necks and feet make a good add to meal time-but for gnawing and satisfying a dog who loves to chew the knee caps are the bomb and I love that they are such a health boost too!

  2. Are the pieces frozen or thawed? Feeding straight from the freezer REALLY slowed down my girl. She’ll still try to gulp the last couple of bites whole but at least she chews the first 80%.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Usually the pieces are thawed. That’s a good point. I should feed some frozen pieces more often. Thanks for all the info. I’m always interested in hearing what other people do.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I won’t risk it. I’m sure some people do feed cooked bones with no issues, but I never will because the bones become harder, more breakable, easier to splinter and shatter into sharp pieces, etc. Because of those reasons, I tell people never to feed cooked bones.

      1. The dogs stomach is also designed to break down raw bones, cooked bones do not break down the same way, I would never feed a cooked bone of any type

  3. I am pretty blasé about feeding my dog bones. As long as they’re not small enough that he chokes on them as he eats or that he doesn’t chew properly before swalling I am not fussed. We did feed him a beef bone one time that I didn’t realise was so small under all the cartilage and he threw that one up because he couldn’t digest it. So I tend to stick to bigger ones! Our dog does have a chip on his tooth from what I can only assume is bone chewing, but it’s not problematic – just shows it can happen though. And I always feed them frozen – slows them down so they don’t bother me for longer 😉 and also stops the gulping! And it gets pretty hot here so it’s a great treat to cool down on 🙂

    I would never feed cooked bones to my dog, they are far more likely to cause damage internally. That being said, my dog has accidentally eaten several cooked chicken wings before (thanks very much to the bin tipping foster dog we had at the time!) and he survived. I would still never suggest it though.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’ll have to feed frozen more often.

      As for cooked bones, I bet quite a few dogs have gotten into the trash and stolen cooked chicken bones. Most will probably be OK, but it’s not something I’m going to risk – at least not on purpose!

  4. I love giving our dogs beef rib bones and elbow bones. I’m not comfortable with marrow bones, because they try and break them apart. I was going to buy our dogs necks, but learned about the dangers if they try to swallow them hole so I passed. I would love to give them chicken pieces, but I don’t have a place to feed our dogs while monitoring them this time of year, but once a nice day comes around, we’ll give chicken a try 🙂

    What about a turkey leg?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Good to know you feed beef rib bones with no trouble. I’ve heard both opinions on rib bones, but clearly they work for your dogs. I have never fed elbow bones.

      Turkey legs work for Ace!

  5. I have a boxer bitch who loves raw meet and bones. Amber was Eva so fussy eating tried everything and mean every trick and advice I could and still no joy. Finally I got advised about barf diet. She loved it until she became in season on exactly 9months. Then after that she went back to kibble and turned her nose at the chicken carcass. Now Amber is 18 months and loves both barf and kibble. She has just polished off almost a whole turkey drumstick. (Massive) she loved it. Chicken carcass are an awesome way to feed your dog. Plus very cheap as my local butcher keeps them to the side for me for free. Turkey drumsticks/ chicken thighs / and chicken carcass are my choice. You can see from their poop how much goodness they retain from the carcass then say regular kibble or even wet food. It around a quarter of the size if not less.

  6. I let Charlie, my Pomeranian try raw chicken wings for the first time. I, too, hovered over him as he devoured the chicken! He made gagging sounds too and that horrified me but he was fine. I think I’m going to only feed him raw chicken meat with the bone twice a week. My biggest fear is that he will choke and I will have to lodge my hand into his throat and pull out the bone. I’m also thinking of adding organ meat to his diet!

  7. Depends on which of my 25 dogs you are talking about. Some can have any bone they desire because they eat at a decent pace and are not power chewers. When we get donated deer – it usually comes in quarters and I have to cut it up – I allow everyone a chance at the ribs and most get to give the leg bones a gnaw or 2 . They are of course supervised while eating One of my biggest power chewers (and gulpers) slowed way down when his food was served frozen for a few months

  8. After feeding my dogs for 15 years now a raw food diet, let me leave some important advice. Some bones are too hard for a dogs teeth. So chicken thigh bones are pretty hard and so are the leg bones. The wings necks and backs are softer so safer to feed your dog. I also feed Turkey necks very reliably. Never, ever ever feed a cooked bone to a dog. Hard knuckle bones are very good for cleaning their teeth. However, you must monitor your dog and do not let him swallow the knuckle bone. If your dog will not give up his bone you will be sorry. Always be certain your dog will be willing to give up his bone, and take it away after he’s chewed it for 1/2 an hour. Secondly, your dog needs greens in his diet. This is very important. Parsley, spinach, basil, broccoli, etc. this is important for the dogs digestive system. Or get some dog greens online, in a powder form and mix into their food. A small amount each day is all that is necessary. Carrots apples and squash are all excellent to add as well as a raw egg each day. These should be chopped in a food processor so that the dog can assimilate the vegetables. Yogurt or cottage cheese is also a good source of protein to add a tablespoon at a meal.

  9. This is all new news to me! I’ve fed every dog I’ve owned over the past 50 years cooked pork and beef bones. I’ve never let them have any chicken or turkey bones because I’ve always heard those can splinter and cause problems. I know a lot of people, including my parents and inlaws, who also feed cooked pork and beef bones. None of our dogs have ever had an issue.

    I do have a question regarding the raw meat diet. How long is it safe to leave raw meat out if it is not immediately consumed? At what point should it be thrown away? Or is it safe to let a dog eat raw meat that has set out for over a day or longer?

    1. Generally speaking, dogs have much hardier systems than humans. So your dog can Probably eat meat that would make you sick, Older/young dogs, dogs with health issues would be in more danger. I did once have a freezer go bad and I was able to feed the food in the freezer several days later. It was definitely stinky on the last day I fed them from that batch.

      That being said, its best to treat dogs’ food similar to your own. Dont defrost food by leaving it out on the counter for 24h on a hot summer day and expect to be able to feed it 3 days later. Defrost just enough to be able to serve and put it into the fridge. If you’re making a homemade diet, then package it into batches small enough to be used within 2-3 days. If you’re traveling, keep the food in a cooler. Because really, who wants to clean up after a sick dog?

    2. Hi Penny! We feed commercial K9 Natural raw food. I don’t know the answer but I don’t think you can leave it at room temp very long. If he doesn’t eat it within 30 min it goes in the fridge and I try again later. We only leave it in the fridge a day or less. I mix 2-3 spoon gulls of yummy smelly wet dog food in with his raw and it’s usually gone in 2 minutes 🙂

    3. My boy has been eating raw for the last 10 years…. He has always eaten the whole meal within a few minutes…On the very rare occasions that he has not finished the whole thing, I have put it in the refrigerator for later… I wouldn’t advise leaving it out for later as it will spoil pretty quickly.

  10. Junior is 45lbs. He loves turkey necks. I give them to him frozen and it takes him a while to consume. Only issue is they are messy. We also give him Primal beef medium size raw marrow bones. He doesn’t eat much if any of the bone and they do a great job cleaning his teeth while he gets the meat off the outside and gets all the marrow inside. They’ve told me the marrow is fatty but he gets so much exercise, that’s not an issue. Great info in this post! And the teeth cleaning is a wonderful added bonus!

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  12. what would a typical raw chicken meal look like for a smallish dog under 20 pounds? I’m trying to figure how much to feed per day.

    1. Stacie Hart-Woerner

      Hi Thomas,
      I started my 26lb puppy on raw food this week. We have free range organic chickens running all over our property. Long story short and unfortunate accident happened to one of our younger hens. My hubbie skinned him, as I don’t think the pups enzymes are up to eating an entire chicken. So I gave him an undressed chicken leg, foot included for lunch and he had one breast and it’s liver for dinner. He absolutely loves his raw diet, and I feel much better feeding it to him. Buyer beware store-bought chickens I have many lacking nutrients than free ranged chickens. I do not believe I would feed him store-bought chicken unless we were in a pinch. Hope that helps good luck.
      Stacie

  13. I raised my boxer mix dogs on mostly raw food. For a while it was prepared raw patties. Now it’s grocery store meats on sale (score when there is inexpensive lamb!!!). Have never fed raw poultry, and now I will try it! Raw beef is fun for the Big Dog, but his 70 lb brother prefers cooked chicken. I feed raw pork, and now am comfortable with them eating the bones. I only wonder if I should be feeding more veggies. Sometimes I make an oatmeal with greens, or frozen veggies, apples, carrots, or squash. This fattened them up a lot though. I have not fed them raw fish. I do feed them canned sardines, when they are on sale, and canned tunafish. My Big Dog has some strange neurological illness, that came on when we were inundated with wood smoke for months. He has started stumbling, trembling, and being stuporous at times. So now I want to make sure he is getting all the necessary nutrients. He is ten years old. I hope he will live forever!

  14. BTW: thanks for all the inputs. Now I feel ready to try poultry necks, wings and bones! And I do feed a raw egg often, so it’s good to read that many people have good experience with that. And raw organ meats! Thanks!

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