A discussion with Chelsea Kent about the “need to knows” of giving raw bones for dental and digestive health, as well as mental stimulation:
What’s the difference between Beef and Bison?
Bison bones are a little smaller than Beef bones (weird, right?) and Beef is more commonly an allergen than Bison. If you have a dog that is potentially allergic to any proteins we recommend giving Bison bones.
Can I give them to cats, too?
If your cat will chew a bone we highly recommend giving them. It’s great for dental health and stress. If you haven’t given bones before or your cat is being picky you might want to start with a raw trachea or sardines… ask for other suggestions.
How long can I leave them out?
Dogs and cats don’t have digestive enzymes in their mouths but they do have enzymes that break down pathogens. So leaving a mostly clean bone out isn’t likely to be dangerous for your furry friends as long as MOST of the meat is off of them. However, the longer a bone is exposed to oxygen the more brittle it becomes. We recommend throwing all bones away after 7 days.
What if my pet gets bored with it before my week is up?
If your pet gets all the marrow out and meat off and then loses interest in the bone you can re-stuff it. Some ideas for re-stuffing include mashed banana, Answers Additional Goat Milk, Answers Fish Stock, Auntie’s Cookie Kitchen veggie blends, green smoothies, Dog4Dog Peanut Butter, dehydrated or raw food, K9 Natural Tripe with supplements in it, etc then you can re-freeze the bone so it lasts longer. You can “freshen” up the bone every day with something new for the seven days!
What if my pet has bad teeth?
If pet has genetically bad teeth or never chews and has developed weak teeth (just like with people… the less weight bearing activity we have on our bones the more likely we are to develop osteoporosis) and you’re not sure if your pet is eligible for raw bones there are still other options. You can offer something “softer” while your pets’ teeth get stronger from more and more chewing. Anderson’s raw Scapula, Trachea’s (can be stuffed), Achilles Tendons, Ribs, Kneecaps or Knuckles (which are just marrow… no bone), OC Raw whole Sardines or something out of the frozen section such as Himalayan Yak Chews, Honest Kitchen Beams, Sliced Antlers, Trachea’s, Bully Sticks, etc.
Are these going to be messy on my carpet?
The first time you give a raw bone it may be messy. You can give it outdoors or on a mat the first time, or give it frozen. After the majority of the meat is off of it, it’s no longer messy.
If your dog is an aggressive chewer its extra important that you pick a size bone that is appropriate for your pooch. Make sure the bone is large enough that it can’t be swallowed whole… too large is better than too small. Also, try to get a bone that is either small enough at one end that it can’t fit entirely over their jaw, or large enough that it can fit easily back and forth over the jaw so that when the marrow is all gone it can’t get stuck over the jaw.
If your dog is aggressive to people or other dogs when chewing on bones please ask us for referrals to trainers. Chewing raw bones will not MAKE your pet aggressive but aggression in association with ANY food is dangerous and we recommend handling it before it becomes a bigger issue.
How to regulate The POO when giving raw bones –
Mucous in the stool – if your dog or cat ate a chunk of bone (or any other material) the intestines natural defense against pathogens or foreign body is to wrap it up in a little mucous blankie so it gets through the digestive tract safely without causing problems. So seeing a mucousy stool is a GOOD thing in that you know that the digestive system is working effectively. It ALSO means that you should keep your eye open for other symptoms (like parasitic or other infection, vomiting, shaking, etc) but it could just be a one time occurrence… in which case… YAY digestive tract for handling that so well.
Hard white poo – If your pet ate a raw bone then had a small, dry, powdery, white stool that’s ok, too. The minerals in the bone often go through the system and create this kind of stool which is why we often recommend feeding a raw bone for a dog with chronically loose stool because they will solidify loose stools… most of the time.
Diarrhea – If your pet ever gets a loose stool from raw bones it’s most likely from excessive calorie consumtion. Bone marrow is over 780 calories per 3.5oz!!! So if you gave a raw bone PLUS a regular meal there a good chance that the digestive tract was just like, “OVERLOAD!!!! PURGE PURGE PURGE!!!”… diarrhea is a natural occurrence to rid the body of over-consumption of even the healthiest things. If you’re not sure you should just skip a meal when you give a bone.
When starting raw bones it’s always best to supervise the first chew to see how your pet responds to the bone (and how responsible he or she is with it and give it for 10-20 minutes at a time initially to see how their digestive system responds before committing to a full bone all in one sitting.
Written by Chelsea Kent