What types of raw bones are safe for dogs?
No matter who you ask, you’ll get a different response about what types of bones are safe for dogs.
This is because each dog is an individual. No bone, chew or toy is 100% safe for all dogs.
There are two 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 article.
I generally don’t give my dogs cooked bones because cooked bones become sharp and brittle (not as safe).
And I rarely give them large, raw bones like beef knuckle bones to chew on, either. This is because one of my dogs is a strong chewer I worry such strong bones could potentially harm my dog’s teeth. I do give them on occasion and supervise him.
What kinds of raw bones are safe for my dog?
There’s not really one answer here. It depends so much on the individual dog. 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 previous dog Ace was 70 pounds and he could potentially try to swallow a chicken leg.
Chicken thighs, on the other hand, were 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.
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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.
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’ regular 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. I give them to my dog Remy rarely, and I supervise him and limit the time he can chew on them.
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.
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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.
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 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?
My dogs eat raw food from our sponsor, Darwin’s. You can get 10 lbs of food for just $14.95 and free shipping. No code required.
Additional raw feeding resources:
- Pork bones for dogs
- Homemade raw dog food recipes
- Raw dog food on a budget
- Where to buy organ meat for raw dog food
Read all of our raw dog food posts HERE.
Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training, dog exercise and feeding a healthy raw diet.