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Feeding Your Dog Raw Bones

From the wolfiest Malamute to the most dainty Chihuahua, just about any dog can enjoy raw bones like their wild ancestors. When fed with care and supervision, they can be a safe, highly nutritious addition to your dog’s diet. As with any major dietary change, talk to your veterinarian before introducing your dog to raw bones.

Why Feed Raw Bones?
While there is not much scientific research available on the benefits of raw feeding for pets, there are a few small studies suggesting that raw bones can help eliminate tartar and reduce oral bacteria that causes dental disease.
Unlike most commercial chews, raw bones help clean your dog’s teeth in multiple ways. As your dog uses their incisors and canines to tear meat off the bone, the muscles and tendons act similar to dental floss, cleaning between teeth. When your dog crushes with their molars, they’re able to clean teeth that you might find difficult to reach with brushing.
Raw bones can also provide physical and mental stimulation. They must use their shoulders, jaws, and neck as they tear into the meat, which can be a surprisingly good workout.
For dogs fed an exclusively fresh raw diet, raw bones are fed as a main source of calcium. For dogs that mainly eat a commercial diet, supplementing with raw bones helps firm stools, though feeding them too often or in high amounts can cause constipation with hard, white, powdery stools. Fibrous fruits and veggies can help mitigate constipation associated with feeding too much bone.
Poultry necks and feet, as well as beef trachea, are natural, highly bioavailable sources of collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin, which can help ease pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

Safety Tips For Feeding Raw Bones
Like any other long-lasting treat or bone, raw bones can cause health complications, but most can be prevented by choosing the right bone for your dog.
There are two main types of raw bones for dogs: edible bones, which dogs eat in their entirety, and recreational bones that dogs tear the meat off of and gnaw, but do not actually eat.
Lightweight poultry bones are partially hollow and break down easily, making them ideal edible bones for beginners, small dogs, puppies, and even cats. Chicken or duck necks, heads, wings, feet, backs, and frames are all good choices.
Weight-bearing bones are hard and can fracture teeth. Examples of weight-bearing bones include turkey legs, chicken drumsticks, lamb shanks, and cow femurs. Light to moderate chewers may gnaw on weight-bearing bones as a recreational chew, but vigorous chewers are more likely to break a tooth.
Some dogs are possessive of long-lasting chews, and may lash out at other pets or family members if they believe someone is trying to take their bone away. It’s best to allow dogs to enjoy their bone in peace in their crate. If you must take away your dog’s bone, consider trading up with a chunk of meat or a treat to ensure their trust.
Raw bones can be contaminated with pathogens like E.coli and salmonella, but dogs are rarely affected by them because their fast-moving, highly acidic digestive tract does not allow harmful bacteria to fester. Dogs can shed these bacteria in their stools, so as usual, you’ll want to wash your hands after cleaning up after your pup. To keep your family safe from contamination, feed raw bones outside, in a crate, or on a washable surface.

Where To Get Raw Bones For Dogs
You can get raw bones for your dog in the freezer section of your local natural pet store, directly from your butcher, or from a grocery store. Simply trim away excess skin and fat if desired, leaving the meat intact, and let your dog have at it.
Keep in mind that cooked, smoked, or boiled bones, even those sold by pet stores, become brittle and splintery after exposure to high heat, creating a risk of gastrointestinal perforations. While no bone is completely safe, raw bones are a generally safe snack for dogs when given with supervision.