Give a dog a bone

Dogs are biologically designed to chew, rip, shred and tear  – how many of you have had a favourite shoe redesigned or furniture deconstructed by the dog that is sitting beside you while you read this. The mechanics of dogs jaws and the design of their teeth is all about chewing. And dogs love to chew.

Somewhere along the way after we started feeding them food from packets, someone decided chewing bones is a dangerous activity for dogs. We hear about the dog that choked or the dog that had a piece of bone lodged in its gut and had to have it surgically removed.

Possibly that may happen if you feed inappropriate bones. It can also happen when they chew a stick or shred a tennis ball. However the number of dogs undergoing a general anaesthetic, sometimes annually, to have their teeth cleaned or to have rotten teeth removed because of poor oral health,  far exceeds these incidences.

Poor oral health is linked to heart, kidney and liver diseases. Even diabetes is linked to gum disease. So yes oral health is extremely important. However, if the root cause of poor oral health is poor diet, lets address that, not propagate an industry (canine dentistry) to deal with a human-made problem. Undergoing a general anaesthetic itself is not without risk, not to mention the expense.

30 years ago we never heard of dogs having to have their teeth cleaned or removed, so what has changed? We have stopped feeding fresh food and most dogs never get fed any bones. We stopped feeding our dogs a species appropriate diet because of something that might happen and have gone on to feed a diet that has generated a whole new set of much more prevalent health issues.  

One of the benefits of raw feeding for dogs is they have great teeth because a raw diet produces much less plaque than dry biscuits. Interestingly we are told by Kibble companies that the hardness and shape of their biscuits actually help to clean dogs teeth. So why are all these dogs needing their teeth cleaned when the majority of dogs are still eating kibble every day.? One simple way to ensure your dog’s teeth are naturally cleaned is to feed them raw meaty bones at least a couple of times a week.

If you need more convincing there is also the enrichment factor dogs get from chewing bones and having to work for their food – It is a very good mental stimulation. Raw meaty bones also provide a great source of calcium, so you can see edible bones play an important part in the raw diet.

10 Tips for feeding bones.

  • 1. Never ever feed cooked bones
  • 2. Never feed weight bearing bones i.e. leg bones. They are too big and tough and some dogs will persist with them and crack their molars. Deer antlers fall into this category too and quite often cause damage to vigorous chewers.
  • 3. Generally speaking, beef bones are not good for dogs because of their size and hardness. For this reason, I would source my bones from a butcher rather than the supermarket where inappropriate bones are often labeled dog bones. Request specific bones – not
    “bones for the dog”.
  • 4. Softer more easily chewed and digested bones are best i.e. brisket bones, rib bones, sheep necks, kangaroo tails, chicken wings, necks, and frames.
  • 5. Match the bone to the size of the dog, Small dog, small bone i.e. chicken wings or necks
  • 6. Start out feeding bones to puppies – its easier than trying to get older dogs to eat them. Ive seen older dogs who just don’t know what to do with a bone and thats sad.
  • 7.  Supervise your dog when they have their bones. Some days I will give our dog Wilson half an hour with a bone then take it off him.
  • 8. If you live in an apartment or don’t have a garden, provide an old towel as a feeding mat. This then becomes the place (and the only place) to eat bones – and it is easy to wash.
  • 9. It is instinctive for dogs to want to hide or bury their bones as they are high-value items. If he doesn’t want to eat it and is looking for a place to hide it, then he is probably not hungry. Take it away and try again later before a meal.
  • 10. Check your dog’s teeth regularly and get them used to you looking in their mouths.

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