A lot of controversial data exists on whether raw bones for small dogs are safe or not. We all know that these canine fellows love chewing and munching on bones, but we’ve also heard those tragic stories of dogs choking and invasive surgeries to remove bone splinters.
So, what should small dog owners do? Should you give into your dog’s pleading eyes or learn from those horrific incidents and ban raw bones from your pet’s diet? Before you make a decision, there’s much more to raw bones that you should know.
In this post, we dive into the topic and discuss it in detail. You’ll learn everything from raw bone types to the safest feeding methods.
Types of Bones
A raw bone refers to any uncooked bone for dogs. It can belong to any animal and can be from any part of the body.
If you purchase bones from the store, you’ll find two fundamental types of raw bones:
1. Edible Bones
Edible bones are soft and hollow, and can sometimes be covered in pieces of meat. Usually, dogs on a raw diet consume edible bones since they’re high in calcium and other essential minerals.
Edible bones have a further classification, which includes:
Also called a chicken bone, the poultry bone is typically a richer source of calcium than the counterpart (non-poultry). It includes chicken feet, wingtips, backs, and necks. You can use these to substitute your dog’s complete calcium requirements, but you should never feed more than two bones per week.
This type of bone can belong to any animal other than chicken, including pork, lamb, and beef bones. These meaty bones are big and suitable for larger breeds, rather than small ones.
2. Recreational Bones
Unlike edible bones, recreational bones are hard and non-poultry. These red meat bones for dogs offer little nutritional value and are better for chewing habits. However, some recreational bones come packed with bone marrow. You can use them as a nice treat now and then.
Here are some raw meaty bone recommendations:
- Bovine bones
- Beef marrow bones
- Deer antlers
- Bison bones
You can also use larger bones from goats, lambs, pigs, or llama.
The Health Benefits of Raw Bones
Nature has embedded the desire for munching on bones in dogs for a reason. It’s simply because raw bone-eating has great benefits for dogs both physically and mentally.
High Nutritional Value
Perhaps the most important benefit provided is to the bone structure. Raw bones (especially poultry bones) are abundant in calcium, a building block of the bone. Consumption of calcium strengthens the skeleton and makes your dog strong. It also improves cardiovascular, muscular, and visionary health.
However, this doesn’t mean that your dog should feed on raw meaty bones only. Pet owners need to ensure a balanced diet for their dogs. Ideally, a dog must not consume more than two meaty bones per week. Don’t give your dog an additional bone only because you think it’s a delicious treat. Too much calcium in dogs can result in hypercalcemia.
Hypercalcemia refers to a condition characterized by weakness, increased urination, and loss of appetite. It’s best to consult a professional for the exact amount of bone you should be feeding your small dog. Besides calcium, raw meaty bones also provide proteins that are an integral component of muscles.
Protein is also essential for the repair and growth of cells. Plus, the collagen (type of protein) enhances the coat, making it thicker and shinier. Red meat bones supply trace amounts of minerals, too. An important one is phosphorus that helps in muscle recovery after exercising and removes waste from the kidneys.
Better Oral Health
Raw bones provide small dogs with a chewing opportunity that they usually don’t get with regular food and occasional treats. It enables them to exercise their jaw, which in turn strengthens it. The chewing also massages a dog’s gums, which is great for young dogs with teething issues. Ensure the bone is a little soft to prevent damage to the teeth and gums.
Plus, raw bones contain important enzymes that fight bacteria and help maintain healthy teeth. The enzymes remove plaque buildup and leave your dog’s teeth clean as well as shiny white. Since the bacteria gets removed, your dog’s breath also becomes fresher and more pleasant.
Sure, you can use a pet toothbrush and toothpaste for good dental health, but eating raw bones gets it done naturally. You can also save the time spent convincing your naughty furry buddy to get his teeth brushed!
Apart from dental health, chewing on red meat bones also has mental benefits. The activity keeps your dog busy and stimulates the mind to focus on the task at hand.
Your dog won’t feel bored or lonely. Some canines also enjoy munching on bones to relieve stress and anxiety. Hence, raw bones can help maintain a balanced emotional and mental state in your dogs.
Raw Bones For Small Dogs: Are They Safe?
We’ve discussed the plentiful raw bone benefits above, but there’s also a less pleasant side to this chewing business that you should be aware of.
Diarrhea is the most common digestive problem in dogs that consume bones from cows and other red meat sources. Bone marrow doesn’t firm the stool while the bone does, so this can lead to diarrhea, especially in small dogs that are being changed to a more raw-food centered diet.
Excessive marrow consumption can potentially trigger pancreatitis, as well. Pancreatitis is a painful health condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed.
Aggressive chewers apply a lot of force to break down the chunks of bone. These can prove to be a choking hazard. They may also travel into the digestive tract causing an intestinal blockage.
If the bone is too hard, munching on them can even lead to broken teeth. Moreover, chewing on weight-bearing bones (a type of poultry, raw bone) makes them splinter. These splinters have sharp edges and may cause gum bleeding.
Cooked bones, such as chicken drumstick and pork chop, also have similar effects. The cooking/baking process makes the bone brittle and easy to break. Your dog may swallow these bone fragments and get ill or choke.
All that said, raw bones do pose a health risk when fed to dogs carelessly. Your dog may be one of the raw feeders, but feeding fresh bones without preparation beforehand will lead to hazards. You must make the raw bone safe to eat first.
How to Prepare Raw Bones For Small Dogs
Preparing raw bones and making them safe is a fairly simple process. Begin by selecting the right bone type for your dogs.
You can freely choose between edible and recreational bones, but avoid:
- Weight-bearing bones
- Hard/hollow or dense bones
- Cooked bones
Also, take care that the bone size is appropriate for your small pooch. You’ll want to choose bones that are small enough for your pocket-sized pet to chew easily. However, the bone should be big enough to avoid swallowing as a whole. Once you have your bones, wash the bones to remove any contaminants and check for sharp edges.
Get rid of any harmful parts that you find. For frozen bones, let them sit out until they’re at room temperature. If the bone has lots of marrow, scoop most of it out using a spoon. However, leave some behind to let your dog enjoy chewing. You can also add flavorings and pet-friendly edibles, like peanut butter.
Is There Any Alternative to Bones?
If feeding your small dog bones isn’t your style, there are several alternatives available, too. These options provide similar benefits as raw bones.
Make a Bone Broth
Once fully cooked, bone broths don’t contain the bone itself. However, it has the same nutritional value for your dog.
To make bone broth, you will need:
- Bones (chicken, beef, lamb)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Turmeric /ginger/ coconut oil / kelp
First, fill a pot with water and add the bones. Pour in a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (approx. 4). Let it all simmer on low flame for a complete 24-hours. Remove the bones, and add turmeric or any other alternative in the desired quantity. Let the broth cool and store it in jars. Add some to your dog’s regular food or medication.
Alternatively, you can buy bone broth powders or bone broth already-made in stores.
Use Natural or Dental Chews
If your dog is an aggressive chewer and breaks bones frequently, then you can also give it a natural chew. These are raw meat parts that are chewy and swallowable. Some examples include tendons and cow ears.
You may also want to consider dental chews. However, be careful with what you choose. Don’t give your pet rawhide bones since they’re toxic, tanned animal skins.
All in all, raw bone treats are highly beneficial for your furry buddy. They improve the dog’s health both mentally and physically.
That said, you need to be vigilant when choosing the type of bone and preparing it. Remember, shards of bone can damage your dog’s mouth and can lead to choking. Hopefully, this detailed guide to raw bones for small dogs has addressed all of your questions and concerns!