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November 14, 2010
Feeding raw bones: recreational and meaty
What's in a bone?
FEEDING Raw BONES
In order to understand the nutrition bones provide to pets, it's first necessary to nail down exactly what we're talking about when it comes to bones.
Raw bones contain
1) marrow within them. Marrow is comprised primarily of fat and blood components, which are high quality nutrients – just not nutrients provided by the bone itself.
There is also
2) cartilage attached to raw bones. It is connective tissue composed of about 50 percent collagen and mucopolysaccharides (chains of glucose molecules combined with mucous).
According to Miller's Anatomy of The Dog, 2nd Edition:
"Actual Bone is about one third organic and two thirds inorganic material. The inorganic matrix of bone has a microcrystalline structure composed principally of
3) calcium phosphate."
…So bone is composed primarily of calcium phosphate.
Calcium and phosphorus ratios and total amounts in a pet's diet are important.
The ideal total amount of calcium in dog food is 1.0 to 1.8 percent of the dry weight of the food.
There are two types of raw bones you can feed your pet as part of a healthy raw diet:
Edible bones aka "raw meaty bones": the hollow, non-weight-bearing bones of birds (typically chicken backs, wings and chicken, turkey, and duck necks). They are soft, pliable, don't contain much if any marrow, and can be easily crushed in a meat grinder, or chewed up readily & happily by larger dogs. These bones provide calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals to a raw food diet. Other options are whole raw fish like an 8” long sardine, or a portion of a “feeder” rabbit. Some dogs do very well with meaty lamb trotters (the small long leg bones of lambs with all the meat & sinew till on them) and others even do well with rib meaty rib racks. All of these above bones have ample meat still on them.
Recreational bones are the big beef or bison femur or hip bones and knuckle bones filled with marrow. They don't supply a lot of nutrition because they’re meant to be aggressively gnawed on, and not much of them actually gets ingested except the yummy marrow and some cartilage chunks. They provide great mental stimulation and oral health benefits.
When your dog chews on a raw recreational bone, especially one with a little meat and soft tissue still attached, his teeth get the equivalent of a good brushing and flossing. This helps to break down tartar and reduces the risk of gum disease. Also, a dog’s large neck muscles get a good work out.
That being said, keep in mind there is some basic information you should know about prior to offering recreational bones:
I tell people to match the size bone offered to your dog's head. Dogs can't be given a bone that's too big, but they can be given a bone that is too small. Bones that are too small can be choking hazards and cause significant oral trauma.
- The marrow is FAT, limit this intake if your dog is overweight, gets diarrhea easily or has pancreas issues. Necks and wings are better for these furry kids or a big knuckle bone without much access to marrow.
• If your pet breaks off pieces of raw bone I recommend removing them.
• Always supervise dogs when you've given them raw bones.
• we recommend separating even the best of dog friends when offering raw bones.
• NOTE: Recreational bones do not supply adequate calcium for homemade meals that don't contain edible bones or bone meal.