If you go to any pet-food or supply store you can find thousands of items for chewing, all designed to replace dogs chewing on actual bones.
Why is this?
Simply put, it is marketing and money.
We take away the very food source our dogs teeth and digestive system where designed to negotiate and have replaced it with nylon, acrylic, plastic, and rubber. And in turn we teach them how to chew on inedible objects.
So, why bone?
Bones offer necessary nutrition to your dog and create an opportunity to chew/grind on an appropriate food source to keep their teeth optimally healthy and clean.
Dr. Tom Lonsdale is a veterinary surgeon and wrote the book RAW MEATY BONES years ago, I would venture to guess that most raw feeders today were influenced by his work in canine nutrition. Spend some time on his site, look at his feeding guidelines, you might find that it is the exact opposite of what you are being told and marketed to believe.
Which bones are appropriate?
Raw bones are appropriate.
Cooked bones are like shard-glass in the digestive system and should not be fed.
Are all raw bones okay to feed?
Here is my advice – in our area we have coyote and wolf kill within 10 minutes or less of anyone’s home. What the wolf or coyote left behind are also the same bones you do not want to feed your dog. If a wolf or coyote cannot negotiate those bones, neither can your dog.
For larger prey like deer, antelope, smallish elk –
- What is left behind – antlers, skull, vertebrae, upper arms/legs, ribs, pelvic
- What is partially or fully eaten – muzzle, lower trotters, hooves, scapula, sternum, joints/knuckles
For smaller prey like rabbit, squirrel, beaver –
- The entire animal is usually consumed and all you will find is scat that has more fur, and white in color from full bone consumption.
What does this mean for your dog?
Avoid bones that have a thick bone density as they will cause slab fractures on your dogs molars. Soup or femur bones are what you will see most often offered as dog-bones, they are inappropriate.
If a bone is hanging on a shelf or in a box at the counter, it is not raw, and that means it is inappropriate for your dog.
I start my puppies at twenty eight days of age on ground meat and bone, and they quickly move to whole bone. MY PUPPIES psst – and the sound of brand new puppies eating is a sound I could listen to all day long!
Talk with your local butcher and get a bag of frozen knuckle/joint bones. Fat is good if the source of the animal was natural, but if there are big globs of fat you can cut a bit off. Thaw and feed. MY DOGS FEEDING
A raw carcass feeding of a small prey animal like; rabbit, cornish hen, quail, chicken – is a good way to gauge your dogs chewing style. I will often times quarter the animal. CARCASS FEEDING
For safety, never leave your dog alone with a bone or carcass, always monitor and observe so you understand your dogs specific chewing style and needs.
How often should I feed bone?
Calcium and phosphorous should be a 1:1 ratio in your dogs diet. For example if your dog ate an entire rabbit – pelt and intestines removed, the ratios for nutrition would be completely balanced with – calcium, phosphorous, organ meats, and digested fermented plant matter in the stomach contents.
If you are feeding bone as more of a recreational chew, offer an appropriate bone 2-3 times per week.
If you are tip-toeing into more species appropriate feeding, try adding a chicken wing, or a whole frozen raw sardine to your dogs meal.
What if my dog gets diarrhea after a bone day?
I would venture to guess that there is not one single person on this planet that has had consistent bowel movements everyday of their life. Environment, food, stress, water quality, new food items, medications, illnesses, all cause digestive changes and most of the time temporary.
One day of diarrhea does not make bones a bad thing, it simply means your dogs system may not be optimal and needs smaller amounts to acclimate.
If your dog already has a damaged gut from over vaccination, over use of anti-biotics, over pharmaceuticaled, and poor quality food, well start slow and consider learning more, my RESOURCE PAGE has a great reading list with some of the best books on nutrition.
The stronger the gut microbiome, the stronger the digestive fire, and feeding a species appropriate diet will always create what is referred to as an iron gut, meaning awesome digestive strength. And a healthier digestive system always has more ability to absorb more nutrition, making the nourishing quality of real food more bioavailable for overall optimal health. Pretty cool stuff. So if anything, let this be your goal.
Are bones safe for my dogs teeth?
This depends on your choice of bone for your dog, and your dogs chewing style. Your time observing your dog chewing will let you know what type of bone or carcass is appropriate to feed. Their teeth are designed for – grabbing, ripping, grinding, crunching. The peaks and valleys of your dogs dental structure is a tip off that there are no teeth in there that are designed for chewing.
Most raw fed dogs have perfect teeth from whelping box to grave with no dental cleaning. Their teeth are used appropriately, with species appropriate food, and in turn do what they are intended to do. This is a fact. Dr. Tom Lonsdale’ book covers this is detail as well.
If your dog already has bad teeth or is a senior dog, choose more appropriate bones that they can negotiate – raw sardine, rabbit leg, quail, etc.
Start informing yourself, start observing your dog, check out your local ranches, farms, or butcher shops for what is available in your area.
You are the number source of nutrition for your dog so your knowledge counts for a whole lot.
In health, Nancy