Feeding bones to dogs has been given a lot of bad press in recent years, largely due to a misconception. Common thought is that bones can splinter and damage your dog’s insides, however this is not true of raw bones.
It is of cooked bones, which become more brittle as they are heated. These can indeed splinter as your dog eats them, and can cause blockages in your dog’s digestive system, or even peritonitis. Large bones can also cause problems, even if they are raw. If they are too big, your dog can damage their teeth or jaw on them.
However, small, raw bones are excellent for dog nutrition, and in fact form the cornerstone of the popular BARF diet for dogs. Edible bones provide important minerals, including calcium and phosphorus, and are essential for a raw food diet.
So what bones can you give to your dog? Well, the hollow bones of poultry are a good start. In particular, your dog will benefit from the wings and necks of chickens and turkeys. Remember not to cook them though!
Other options are to treat your dog to a whole fish, or even a whole rabbit if they have the appetite. Ox tails and beef or pork ribs are also good bones for dogs to eat, and will provide them with a good amount of nutrition.
There are also recreational bones. There is nothing inherently wrong with giving your dog a big bone to gnaw on, but you have to be careful. Used well, large bones will clean your dog’s teeth and help prevent gum disease.
Try to only give your dog a large bone after a full meal. This will ensure that they don’t gnaw on it too vigorously, reducing the chance of them breaking a tooth or ingesting too much of it.
Pick a bone that is larger than the length of your dog’s muzzle. This is especially important for large breeds with powerful jaws, who are more than capable of chewing up and swallowing an entire bone if it is too small.
Above all, make sure you are around to supervise your dog when they are gnawing on a bone, just in case. But if you follow all of these tips, feeding your dog bones can be a great way to liven up their diet.
Written by: Hannah Dyball