Bones

Bones are an important part of a fresh food diet because they offer calcium which is necessary in your dogs diet.

Some Vets will often scare their clients off from feeding bones, telling them that they are a choking and obstruction risk and that they could cause G.I & dental injury - all these things are of course a possibility but they aren't the typical outcome, if they were, we'd have one hell of a problem on our hands!

Edible bones - When those new to fresh food feeding enter our community, they often think that dog bones are long bones that are often referred to as marrow bones but these are bones we actually avoid.

Weight-bearing bones of large animals such as cows are incredibly dense, they can wear down and chip teeth and also provide an obstruction risk. We recommend these types of bones are avoided unless they're used as an every now and then recreational bone and are supervised where they are taken away after the condyle at the ends of the bone has been chewed off. You should also avoid machine-cut bones that are typically referred to as soup bones, these are very sharp.

Edible bones are bones that are intended to be consumed in whole such as Chicken/Turkey/Duck frames, heads, necks, feet, and the likes.

There are some edible bones that are quite dense such as necks and spines from large animals such as cows and tails from Kangaroo's - you will need to make a decision whether these are appropriate bones for your dog based on how they eat them and how they digest them. If you see any bone fragments in their poo's more than occasionally then your dog needs something to help them digest these dense bones such as Apple Cider Vinegar & probiotics and maybe even a digestive enzyme.

Examples of edible bones commonly available in Australia:

Poultry (Chicken, Quail, Turkey & Duck)

  • Feet

  • Neck

  • Frame

  • Thigh

  • Wings

  • Head

  • Whole bodies if appropriate

  • We recommend you avoid drumsticks as they have a sharp bone in them but it is up to your personal choice, many fresh food feeder do feed them.

Extra Large animal such as Cow &  Horse

  • Brisket

  • Necks - these are harder bones, there is a risk here - some dogs will consume them completely, some will not.

  • Tails - i.e. Roo tail - these are harder bones, there is a risk here - some dogs will consume them completely, some will not. Pig Tail is fine.

  • Ribs - are more likely to splinter, therefore you may like to avoid these

  • Feet/lower end of legs - Avoid due to denseness

  • Head (often cut in half)

Pork

  • Neck - these are harder bones, there is a risk here - some dogs will consume them completely, some will not.

  • Tail

  • Head (often cut in half)

Lamb/Mutton/Goat

  • Brisket

  • Neck - these are harder bones, there is a risk here - some dogs will consume them completely, some will not.

  • Avoid Feet/lower end of legs due to denseness

  • Head (often cut in half)

Rabbit

  • Whole animal if appropriate

  • Head

  • Frame

  • Limbs

Kangaroo

  • Shoulder (scapula)

  • Tail - these are harder bones, there is a risk here - some dogs will consume them completely, some will not.

  • Neck - these are harder bones, there is a risk here - some dogs will consume them completely, some will not.

Fish

Whole fish if appropriate

Fish head

Fish frame

Supervision - The key to safe consumption of bones is supervising the dog especially when they are new to bones and lack the experience of understand how to consume them.

Not all bones are suitable for all dogs, for example some bones are simply too small for some dogs such as chicken necks and they will swallow them whole, whilst other dogs are very greedy and will swallow some bones whole - in both situations, going big i.e. a chicken carcass or half a chicken carcass would be more appropriate if it's not too much food for the dog. Some pet parents also offer frozen bones to slow dogs down.

When your dog is new to bones, you can hold onto the bone if that doesn't upset them to help them figure it out.  Dogs who have had their dew claws removed may struggle to hold bones down and this means that the ripping and shredding of bones needed to clean the teeth at the front of the mouth might not be possible.

How often?

Pet parents feed bones in all different ways.  In the BARF feeding model we recommend, the feeding calculator will tell you how much of your chosen bone to include in your dogs meal but this amount might be too small or simply not practical, so you may choose to feed the combined bone from more than 1 days allowance a few times per week (or more) either as part of a meal or as an entire meal.  Remember, there is not just one way to feed a healthy diet to your dog, you can do whatever works for your dog and your situation.

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Eating in peace - it is important dogs are able to eat in peace, especially bones which they will usually find a much higher value and may try to guard if they think someone might come and take it.  Dogs will generally eat much slower if they know they will not be bothered.

Even if your dogs aren't aggressive to one another around food, the presence of each other is likely to make them east faster, we would recommend you feed them in crates or separated in different yards or rooms so they feel safe. 

Children should never ever be allowed to approach a dog whilst it is eating and your dog should never be expected to just suck it up when being annoyed by a child when they are eating - most dog bites happen in the home and typically to a child's face due to their height - don't let your child become a statistic.

If your dog has food aggression issues, please contract the services of a trainer.

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Cooked Bones - Never feed cooked bones such as chicken bones, these can splinter. We also do not recommend giving your dog smoked or dehydrated bones for the same reason.  We regularly see serious G.I injury in our community from dehydrated/smoked ribs as they splinter badly.