This article shares insight to choosing the right bone for dogs.  As a professional pet sitter, it’s important to remember when caring for multiple dogs in a household, to feed bones and chews in locked crates with significant distance between them – or in completely separate rooms while they enjoy a good chew. Dogs will naturally fight over a bone, just as they did in the wild.

It is never a good idea to take the bone away. It is best to leave the bone with the dog and when appropriate, provide an alternative toy or treat.

Chew bones are engaging for all dogs who love to chew and allows them to release their “inner wolf” when it comes to this instinctive behavior. Think about it…in the wild, every bit of the kill is devoured including the meat left on the bones. Once satiated, the bone is buried to be enjoyed later. Does your dog bury his bones? Now you know why!

Domesticated dogs rely on us to provide every meal. Serving appropriate chew bones helps fulfill their inner “wild”, while also keeping teeth clean by reducing plaque & tartar build up. Especially important for puppies, chew bones can be a great distraction when given in exchange for your favorite shoe they’ve found for their teething pleasure.

 

KNOW WHICH BONE TO PICK

 

Cooked bones are NEVER a good idea, as vets routinely see dogs that require surgery to remove bone shards and splinters that can cause intestinal blockage. While you may not intentionally share cooked chicken or turkey bones with your dogs, many will scavenge your garbage to find them. Always dispose of properly to avoid unintentional intestinal blockages.

RAW RECREATIONAL BONES, however, are much safer and beneficial for dogs. These are big chunks of beef or bison femur, or hipbones filled with marrow.

They can provide a source of additional protein, glucosamine, calcium and collagen. They are easy to digest and lack the carbohydrates, starches and sugar often found in other dog chew treats. Chewing a raw, meaty bone works your dog’s muscles and jaw like no kibble diet can. A savory chew on a recreational bone is the equivalent of a good teeth brushing for your dog.

Avoid donut-shaped marrow bones as many have been caught in a dog’s jaw which is not only uncomfortable, but it may also require a vet trip to surgically remove while your dog is sedated. Always supervise your pet during bone-munching moments and provide a size-appropriate bone.

Chew bones are good for a dog's teeth

Tips To Serving a Raw Bone to Your Dog:

(1). Keep it frozen. Introduce slowly (10-15 minutes at first) and refreeze between “sessions”. Any new food introduced to your dog’s diet requires baby steps to avoid possible diarrhea.

(2). Keep small children and other dogs away when you serve up this delicious treat that few dogs will want to share.

(3). The size of the bone should match the size of your dog’s head.

(4). Let him bury it if so inclined.

(5). Serve on tile or wood floors if indoors or teach your dog to stay on a mat to avoid possible carpet stains.

EDIBLE RAW BONES

 

These are long-lasting chews without the marrow, and are a healthy, more durable and digestible alternative to Rawhide. Edible raw chews provide calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals that are essential to your dog’s diet. Depending on the type of chew, they can last 15-45 minutes.

The owner of Fetching Dog in Scottsdale, Becci Scott, offers the following advice:

“Many people believe that dry dog food has dental benefits by having enough scraping action to keep dog’s teeth clean; however, dry dog foods are made with lots of starch to bind them together which stick to the dog’s teeth and form plaque. It is evident by the extreme dental decay seen in dogs that eat primarily dry food diets, that sugars are as bad for their teeth as they are for human teeth”.

Bones are great for recreation and for the dental health of our dogs. Raw meaty bones can also add calcium to your dog’s diet.

Raw bones are the only safe bones for dogs to chew on. Fresh, raw bones with all their natural oils are solid but have some give so they do not splinter like they do once they are exposed to heat (smoking, cooking, roasting, etc.) which dries them out and makes them brittle. Brittle bones are prone to splintering causing damage to gums and the digestive tract when swallowed.

It is important to choose the proper bone for your dog. They are available in many sizes for you based on your dog’s size as well as chewing strength. Large breed and more aggressive chewers should avoid thin weight-bearing bones like Lamb femurs which can be more easily crunched by a strong jaw, allowing the dog to swallow large sharp fragments.

Large breeds do best with larger, thicker bones that allow them to gnaw which scrapes the teeth and helps prevent tartar buildup. Smaller dogs do great with smaller cuts of bone.

Raw meaty bones, such as chicken, duck and turkey necks and chicken backs are meant to be chewed and consumed. They not only give that same brushing action to teeth and gums, but also add calcium to your dog’s diet. Many dog owners who make their own balanced dog food, use raw meaty bones to meet some of the calcium requirements”.

RAWHIDE OR NOT?

 

There is some controversy about the benefits vs risks of Rawhide bones and chews. Rawhide has been sold and consumed for years and is a cheaper alternative for budget-conscious pet parents.

A very experienced perspective on this subject is provided by Sarah Sypniewski at Embrace Pet Insurance:

“Rawhide is extremely dangerous. It is so dangerous, that I am stunned they can still sell it. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA both discourage rawhide consumption and list it among the dangerous household products for pets (next to pesticides and cleaning chemicals) …[Rawhide] is the inner layer of cow or horse hides that has been cleaned and stripped of hair. In order to remove the hair from this layer, the hide must be soaked in chemicals, primarily sodium sulfide. It’s as toxic as it sounds. It’s then washed and whitened with hydrogen peroxide; dried and pressed into the treats you see in the stores (sometimes they add flavorings or coatings to make them appetizing for dogs). Other toxins, such as trace amounts of arsenic and formaldehyde have been detected in rawhide treats as well. Raw amounts of arsenic and formaldehyde have been detected in rawhide treats as well. Rawhide is classified neither as a human food nor pet food, so there are no regulations over its production”.

There are many benefits to chew bones for dogs.  It improves their dental health, satisfies mental stimulation needs and also provides stress relief and nutritional benefits.

It’s essential to choose an appropriate chew bone for your dog’s size, breed and chewing habits to avoid potential choking hazards or digestive issues.  All dogs should be supervised when giving them a chew bone.  Remember to discard it when it becomes small enough to swallow or if it starts to splinter.

Happy chewing and hugs from your Pet Pros @ AoPP

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photo of Husky chewing a bone by Mohan Nannapaneni on pexels