As a doggy parent, you understand how hard it can be to know what’s right when it comes to your pawsome pet’s nutrition.
“Kibble is bad, but certain kinds are good.”
“Raw food isn’t healthy, but homemade meals are the best.”
“Grains, wheat, corn, rice and sweet potatoes should all be avoided, but good luck finding commercial dog food that doesn’t have them included.”
With all of the contradictory evidence and personal opinions out there, knowing which is the best route to take in treating, feeding and health is near impossible. This is especially true when it comes to the debate regarding feeding your dogs bones.
Raw bones are complex and healthy sources of vital nutrients and minerals. They can provide a variety of health and behavioral benefits as well. They can also be dangerous for your dog and downright deadly in the worst of circumstances. So what’s the lowdown when it comes to feeding your dog these tasty treats? Stay tuned as we throw concerned pet owners a bone and fill you in on everything you need to know regarding this controversial nutrition topic.
What Bones Not to Feed
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the benefits of good bones, vigilant owners should be aware of what not to feed their pets. For starters, cooked bones of any kind are a big no-no per most trusted veterinary sources. Cooked bones become brittle and strong teeth and jaws can crack off jagged pieces which can potentially cause perforations in the mouth, esophagus or stomach. These bone pieces can also be choking hazards when larger pieces become lodged in the back of your dog’s throat or windpipe.
Feeding your dogs leftover bones from meals is also a nutritional bad idea. Sauces, seasonings and extra ingredients can creep their way in from human dinner plate scraps. Garlic, onions and sugar and artificial sweeteners are all common ingredients in popular sauces. Each of these items can be a stomach irritant or, in large enough quantities, can be poisonous to your pet. Finally, stay away from rawhide “bones” sold at most commercial dog food stores. These are actually bleached and dried pieces of pork or cow skin and pose a choking hazard as well as being difficult for your dog to digest.
Benefits of Proper Bone Use
With that being said, there’s plenty of evidence out there that proper bone feeding has many benefits to your pet’s overall health. Chewing on bones is a handy relaxation tool for dogs that become stressed, bored or anxious. Regular bone chewing promotes good dental health by removing plaque and food buildup along the gum line. Finally, the right kind of bones can be good sources of calcium, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals as well as collagen-building glucosamine from joints and connective tissue often present on the right kind of bones.
This begs the question, what kind of bone should you be feeding your dog? Most vets agree that raw meaty bones, or RMB’s, are excellent additions to most dog’s diets. These tend to be large femur bones, potentially with the end pieces still attached. Owners should always monitor their dog’s bone chewing session as big time chewers may like to crack off more than they can chew in the form of large pieces that create blockages. These dogs may be better candidates for raw chicken or turkey wings or necks which contain smaller bones that are more readily crushed, chewed and digested.
As with all things nutrition, moderation is key when it comes to healthy bone consumption. Too much bone in one session can cause constipation in your pooch. Dogs that aren’t used to eating bones can also cut their mouths and extended chewing on large, weight-bearing bones can wear down teeth over time. While we mentioned above that cooked bones are a bad idea, slow heating for 12-24 hours or more can cause smaller bones to become easily crushed and dissolved which is a great way to get important nutrients to pets that have problems with chewing.
The No Bones Barred Bottom Line
To sum it up, there’s a good and a bad when it comes to allowing your dog to nom on bones. Chewing bones can yield a variety of health benefits but can also be unhealthy or dangerous if owners provide poor bone choices or if their dog has chewing tendencies that make the activity unsafe. When in doubt, worried dog owners should consult with their local vet about their individual dog’s health benefits or detriment to eating bones. Finally, remember that moderation is key in even the best of activities. With these points in mind, your pet can safely chow down on quality raw meaty bones and reap the benefits for a long and healthy life by your side.