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The Best Types Of Bones To Feed Your Dog

Updated on January 27, 2012

There is a huge amount of misinformation and myth about feeding your dog, some of which is really rather insane if you actually stop and give it a thought. Common misunderstandings about what is a good thing to give your dog, and what is potentially hazardous and unhealthy are so common that is important to get the facts and understand the basics.

What Bones To Feed

Perhaps you have heard that there are several different types of bones you should never feed your dog. There are a few, but typically any bone in raw form is going to be safe for your dog. Much to most owner's amazement and initial disbelief this includes chicken bones, turkey bones, lamb bones and even oxtails, all fed in a natural raw state. In addition whole fish, including the head, can also be fed to dogs on raw food diets. These bones are known as the soft bones and the dog will actually chew and eat the bone, bone marrow and the attached meat.

Another type of bone that can be fed is a recreational bone. This is a somewhat new term for many, but what it refers to is a large joint bone that will provide your dog hours of chewing satisfaction, rather than as a meal. Often the large beef leg bones and the knuckle bones are the most common type of long chewing action bones. It is important that the owner remove these bones when they get chewed down to a size that they may pose a choking hazard or simply are too old to be of any nutritional value.

What Bones To Avoid

The only bones to avoid are those that that break into shards. This only happens when they have had their nutrients depleted from heat. The fact of the matter is that no dog, wild or domesticated, can gain nutrients from cooked food as effectively as with raw. In general there are also very few problems with choking or obstructions with raw meat and uncooked bones. As it has been for millions of years, the canine digestive system and its strong stomach acid were specifically designed to handle bones and transport nutrients right where they needed to go. Chemicals, preservatives and additives in commercial dog foods that dogs now eat not only block nutrients from being absorbed, they often strip essential minerals from bone as well.

Any type of cooked fish or poultry bone is a choking hazard in the making and always dispose of these bones so even if your dog gets into the garbage bin they will be safe. Never feed your dog cooked beef bones, especially the long smooth bones as they will quickly splinter and can injure the throat, teeth and the gums. Splinters of bones can also lodge across the roof of the mouth, causing pain and potential injury to your dog.

Another type of bone to avoid with your dog is any kind of cooked or fresh raw pork bone. Raw pork has a greater chance of being contaminated with trichinosis than any other meat, however if you want to feed a raw pork bone it can be frozen for two to three weeks to kill any flukes (young worms) that may be present. Feeding cooked pork bones poses the same splintering risk as cooked beef or chicken.

What About Rawhide?

Rawhide has no nutritional value to your pet but may end up costing you a bundle at the vets. This is because as your dog chews off larger chunks of the rawhide bone he or she swallows them whole. This dehydrated beef or pork skin then swells within the esophagus, stomach or intestine, resulting in a full or partial blockage in a worst-case scenario. In addition it can cause chronic bowel and digestive problems.

If you do want to continue to provide your dog with a rawhide bone or chew toy, make sure to only allow access to the bone when you are around to supervise. At the first sign of the dog taking the bone or chew toy apart, throw it away. Another option is to by the slightly more expensive rawhide toys that are made from shredded rawhide that is then pressed together. Since it is already in shredded form it won't be as problematic as the dog won't be swallowing large pieces at one time.

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