Bones are an excellent way of keeping your dog’s teeth clean, often referred to as nature’s toothbrushes they prevent plaque formation and periodontal disease. Allowing a dog to chew a bone keeps them calmer and happier as well as providing exercise and strengthening their jaws and upper body. Bones are a source of meat and marrow and contain many other nutrients:
- Essential fatty acids
- Blood-forming nutrients including iron and copper
- Vitamins A, D and E
- Essential amino acids including lysine
- Minerals including magnesium, calcium and phosphorus
If you are not used to feeding bones it can be daunting so we have compiled some tips to help you, if you stick to these you should be fine!
1. Bone should only make up 10% of the diet, feeding more than this can cause constipation. If you are feeding prepared raw food with bone content, then reduce the amount of raw meaty bones you give per week. Aim for firm stools that pass easily, if your dog is straining to pass faeces and it is very chalky then the bone content is too high. When introducing a dog to raw food it may be helpful to wait for one month before introducing additional bones to allow the gut to adapt to the new diet.
2. ALWAYS supervise your dog when feeding bones. Dogs that are new to bones can become over excited and may choke/regurgitate by trying to eat them too quickly. This should improve as they get used to eating bones. This leads onto the next point:
3. If you have a dog that tries to gulp bones, then you can give them frozen or partially frozen until they learn to chew properly.
4. Only give bones that are of an appropriate size to your dog’s mouth/throat. For example, chicken wings are perfect for a small dog but may get stuck in a medium/large dog’s teeth or throat, something like a turkey neck would be more appropriate.
5. Do not feed weight bearing bones such as leg bones – these bones do not have the same nutritional value and they are very hard which can break the teeth.
6. Suitable bones should have plenty of meat on them
7. Check that bones are from a young animal (they will most likely be from a butcher or raw food supplier), this will ensure that they are soft and unlikely to splinter.
8. Never feed cooked, smoked or dried out bones as these can splinter9. If you have a multi-dog household, separate them when feeding bones to avoid fights over resource guarding.