The benefits of bones and how to feed them
The benefits of bones and how to feed them
Bones can be the ultimate special treat for dogs to get their teeth into but are also one of the most common concerns for owners wanting to raw feed their dog.
As a dog parent, it’s important to have the correct knowledge on how to feed raw bones to your pooch. Once you do have the knowledge however, there are lots of benefits that help your dog thrive on a raw diet.
The nutritional benefits of bones
Bones are a fantastic source of minerals, providing a natural source of nutrition for dogs as a main source of bioavailable calcium and phosphorus.
Bones are also rich in protein, fats, and vitamins and contain marrow, which is rich in blood and fats that also contain essential nutrients. Raw bones are high in collagen, and bone residue also acts as an important matrix helping your dog to form a good stool.
Chewing on a bone has also been proven to stimulate saliva enzymes, which helps prevent common plaque build-up on teeth, and therefore helping to prevent gum disease.
How to feed your dog bones
1. Introduce bones gradually
Dogs who have never had a raw bone as part of their normal diet need to be introduced to it slowly as the gut enzymes, stomach acid and flora need to adapt to the ‘new’ substance. Initially, we recommend that you feed your dog a complete diet containing ground bone for a minimum of four weeks, rather than introducing whole bones straight away. This ensures that there will be no risk of large pieces of bone becoming impacted during the transition period. Once the gut has become used to digesting the ground bone, the stool will change (this can take up to 7 days). A good stool from a dog fed a raw diet with ground bone will look relatively small and glistening, is easily passed, low odour and when it dries, it will become pale due to the broken-down waste bone material.
2. Teach your dog how to use their teeth correctly
Dogs who have never had bones before will often need to be taught how to eat bones safely. They will be used to swallowing their food, as there will have been nothing for them to crush with their powerful back teeth. To help teach them, the first thing to ensure is that the piece of bone and connective tissue is too big to swallow.
The connective tissue is really important, and your dog will use its front teeth (incisors) to nip and pull this off the bone and then use the back teeth to crush the bone and macerate the tissue to prepare it for digestion in the gut. This is an essential step, so initially you need to be sure that your dog is taught to do this. You may even need to hold one end of the bone section to help your dog position it correctly, until they learn how to do it properly themselves.
3. Never feed cooked bones
It is very important that any bone fed is raw and not cooked. When bones are cooked the structural composition of the bone is altered. Raw bone is a spongy matrix and is not sharp in the uncooked form. The cooking process hardens the internal bone structure making the bone sharp and brittle. This brittle substance is dangerous if it is fed to your pets because the bones can easily splinter when crushed and swallowed which can lead to damage in the mouth or the gut and an increased risk of blockage.
4. Know the difference between types of bone
There are two types of bone – dietary essential edible bone and non-dietary essential recreational bones.
Essential edible bone comes from parts of prey animals that are non-weight bearing bones, like necks (ex. duck necks), wings, ribs etc. This type of bone is an essential part of raw feeding.
Non-essential recreational bones are thick dense weight bearing bones; they are not a nutritionally essential part of the raw diet. However, they are fantastic for maintaining dental health and providing mental enrichment as the actual motion of chewing strengthens masticatory muscles and assists in inducing a calming effect on the body.
5. Assess your dog’s tolerance to bones
Tolerance of bone is specific to each individual dog. The best way to assess your individual dogs’ tolerance to bone is by monitoring its stool. A firm white stool may indicate your dog has a low bone tolerance; in which case a no bone content complete meal may be ideal or a lower bone content meal. Some dogs may have a higher tolerance for bone. Turkey is especially good for dogs with a high bone tolerance as well as the inclusion of carcass feeding within a raw diet.
Very old dogs, sick dogs, heavily pregnant dogs, or those on antacids may not be able to tolerate additional bone in their diet and we recommend feeding only lower percentage ground bone complete raw diets.
And finally, always follow Natural Instinct’s Three S’s rule when feeding bones:
Always feed the appropriate size bone for the size of your dog.
Always supervise your dog when feeding any treats or bones.
Bones are of high value to dogs; therefore, if you live in a multi dog household separate them when feeding bones to ensure they don’t squabble.
To explore our range of raw bones see more here. https://www.naturalinstinct.com/dog-cat-ccessories/bones-treats