I have always felt that feeding a dog a bone was the same as giving a child a cookie. Dogs love bones and kids love cookies, at least in my home. Well, suddenly there has come a controversy over feeding dogs raw bones.
One side of the element says dogs should have raw bones and the other side says ‘no!” Raw bones are bad for your dog. So what is a concerned dog owner to do. Me, I decided to look at both sides of the coin (so to speak) and then decide for myself what I was going to do.
Personally, I feel dogs were eating raw bones long before they became domesticated and they have survived this long, but in order to give you both sides of the story, I will present both sides and you can decide.
What are the benefits of feeding raw bones? Raw bones are a great benefit to a dog’s dental health. Chewing raw bones provides an abrasive action within a dog’s mouth that helps to keep their teeth clean. However, just for the record, bones do not do that job entirely or completely.
Some dogs for whatever reason have clean teeth most of their lives, while others, no matter what you do accumulate tartar on their teeth. Studies do show, as reported by owners, bones do a good job of keeping teeth in pretty good shape. That means fewer trips to the vet for tooth checkups and problems.
Another good reason for feeding your dog raw bones and sometimes bones with meat on them is the fact it is good for their mental and physical health.
I know that you are now thinking, my dog has mental health problems?
No, but have you ever watched your dog chewing on a bone, can’t you feel and see the joy in his/her face? Chewing on a raw bone and especially one that has meat on it, is one of the most blissful things a dog can imagine, providing a dog could imagine something? In plain English it is almost like us having a nice cool drink on a hot day, actually I had something else in mind, but this is a family article.
When a dog is chewing on a bone, it is working its face, jaw and tongue muscles, it is like giving a dog a sedative, it is so good for its nerves. Bone chewing is an acquired trait that dogs inherited from their wolf ancestors. It is a natural instinct. Most dog owners who feed raw bones report that bone chewing helps their dog’s digestion, joints, skin and immune system.
There are also nutritional benefits from feeding your dog raw bones. Hard bones that a dog only gets to chew on, but has little or no ability to break down the bone to actually get inside to get to the calcium and phosphorous are of little or no nutritional value. They only give enjoyment. However, bones with meat on them are highly nutritional. Chondroitin, an important joint nutrient, is found in the cartilage on meaty bones and helps lubricate joints.
The important thing to realize is that feeding your dog raw bones does not in anyway provides a proper and nutritional diet. A dog need dog food, bones are just one wonderful recreational enjoyment for your dog and some bones do provide a little nutrition.
What are the negative sides of feeding raw bones? On the negative side of the coin, people who say, “do not feed your dog raw bones,” will now have their day in court.
Raw bones cause cracked and broken teeth. I agree that is possible, especially if your dog is an aggressive chewer. Aggressive chewers have been known to gnaw their teeth to nubs in a few short years. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, you need to supervise the time spent chewing and try to enforce slower chewing.
Bone splinters, yes, raw bones have been known to splinter and can cause extreme damage to your dog. Pieces can get stuck in their throats and anywhere else along the digestive tract and may require surgery, if a laxative does not work. A splinter can damage an intestine if it punctures it; this is a rare thing, but possible and will require surgery.
Bacteria and germs: It does not take long for a bone that has been rolling around on the floor or out in the grass to gather a few germs and/or bacteria. I feel that in many ways this is a poor excuse to stop feeding a dog raw bones. Remember dogs ate day old carcasses that were laden with a lot more than germs and bacteria in the days when dogs were wild. Their genetic well being I think is programmed to be able to handle a few germs and bacteria.
I think the most important thing for us, as humans, is to remember to wash our hands after handling a used bone and even after petting our dog. We are more likely to get sick and not the dog.
What can you do to make bone chewing safer? First of all do not feed your dog cooked bones. Cooked bones are brittle and can splinter easily, especially chicken bones. Do not feed raw chicken bones either, that is my personal opinion, cause they do shatter quite easily.
Raw bones should fit the size of the dog, do not feed small bones that can be swallowed. Dogs need to chew and the bone should be large enough to get the dog’s molars around the bone.
Supervision is important, if a bone starts to splinter, get it away from the dog. When your dog is no longer interested in its bone, toss it out, in the garbage as a prevention of any germs or bacteria.
If you have a heavy jawed dog or a puppy that is chewing on a bone for the first time, keep an eye on them as a prevention of future trouble.
If you do not feel you want to feed your dog raw bones, you can buy a strong grinder and grind the bones. This will give your dog the benefit of having bones in its diet; it will just not have the thrill of chewing on one.
Most vets agree that chewing raw bones is something dogs should be allowed to do, it is part of their nature and on a one-to-one basis, the chances of problems arising are few. Supervision of course is important.
I personally belong to the raw bone-feeding group and I know how my dogs loved their raw bone treats. Me, I would rather settle for some brownies and vanilla ice cream, but then I am a human.