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Forgotten in Three Generations – Raw Bones

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  1. Diane

    I remember my Dad giving our dogs bones but they were always after the meat was cooked. Are you saying give them a piece of raw uncooked meat with a bone in it without cooking it?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Yes – raw bones are less likely to splinter (though there is always that risk with any bone). Never give your pet cooked chicken bones. Some vets (Dr. Basko mentioned above as example) suggest cooked beef bones to soften them slightly (he explains this on his site). But most suggest raw bones (uncooked).

  2. cathy

    in the past, I’ve given raw marrow bones from the grocery store to my dog and, although she loves them, the raw bones always caused extremely loose stools. so it’s not worth it to me. I do feed my dog raw dog food mixed with kibble and she does fine with that.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      In one of the posts that I quoted from – not sure which – it was stated that the marrow is mostly fat and some dogs can’t handle it initially, they have to be slowly introduced to that much marrow. It was suggest to start them off by scooping the marrow out of the bone at first – removing almost all of it. Then slowly allow them to consume more.

    2. Aurora Clarke

      Marrow bones pose a very high risk for dogs – first they are very hard – a weight bearing bone so more risk of breaking a tooth. Secondly there have been several reports of marrow bones becoming stuck on the dogs lower jaw – because they are cut in those neat little sections
      Just google ‘bone stuck on dogs lower jaw’ for more stories regarding the same. Stick with the big knuckle bones – knee bones and pasterns which have little marrow, lots of cartilage [think glucosamine!] Pork button bones are good as well as chicken necks. Note on chicken and turkey necks – I use a cleaver and chop them into 1 – 2 inch pieces as my dogs are greedy, this reduces risk of choking. Rule of thumb is to feed bones bigger than the dog can swallow without chewing.

      1. Sherrie Ashenbremer

        I don’t want that to happen to my dogs. can’t take that chance

        1. Aurora Clarke

          It won’t happen to your dogs if you choose the proper bones Sherrie. Marrow bones are problematic for several reasons. You do not have that risk with a large knuckle bone, brisket bones, pork riblets and many other safe bones.

  3. Nina Wolf

    well…talk to your holistic veterinarian, or set up a phone consult with one if there is not one in your area. Chances are your local vet will tell you bones are awful and dangerous and oh here by the way you need this Science Diet.

    1. Jeri

      Just what I was thinking. Going over this with a conventional mainstream vet will almost certainly end in a lecture, horror stories and scare tactics.

  4. 2muttsMom

    I keep WHOLE Raw Meaty Femur bones with knuckles on BOTH in the freezer for my dogs… I TAKE them out & let them chew on them for about 30 minutes EVERY DAY… THEN I PUT THE BONES BACK IN THE FREEZER. when the dogs chew the knuckles off, I toss the long bones out & replace them with new bones. Rather the giving them the knuckles, I prefer the whole femur bones because the dogs have to maneuver the whole bones around into position to chew them. Keeping the bones in the freezer, eliminates worry about spoilage.
    Both of my dogs weigh 55 pounds and my Vet approves as long as I don’t let the dogs chew on the LONG bone

  5. Laura

    The next time I bring them in I’ll ask my cats’ vet about the state of their dental and jaw health, but as of right now they’re both getting their teeth brushed daily with one of those soft, rubber-like baby fingertip brushes. One of them with very healthy teeth can tolerate a tiny bit of a paste of baking soda and water, but the one with a bit of gingivitis fights too much. We were told by their vet that the reason he has more gingivitis than would be expected of a young cat his age is because of his FIV. Can FIV really contribute to gingivitis? He gets a water additive called Oratene that seems really safe based on the ingredients and reviews online (though it only seems to help a bit), but I’m thinking of switching to a different toothbrush that actually has a handle. I’m just concerned because I don’t think I was able to find a baby toothbrush like that when I looked, and I really don’t trust a pet toothbrush, because lord knows the kind of chemicals the plastic in them contains. Do you have any experience brushing an animal’s teeth? Any advice?

    1. Jessica

      Skip the toothbrushes and give your cats raw bones. I have a 10 year old raw fed cat (no ground raw food) and his teeth look amazing. We switched to raw about 7-8 years ago and before we made the switch his teeth were already yellowing and headed south. Now they are pearly white and he’s never had a dental cleaning in his life. Chicken necks are good starter bones as they are soft, I started with chicken wings and it took my cat about a month to figure out how to eat the bones. You can even just give the tip of a chicken wing off your own chicken (before cooking of course) since those usually go to waste anyway.

      1. Laura

        Okay, thank you 🙂 I’ll be sure to check with their vet to see if their jaws are healthy enough, but I don’t really see there being a problem. Since they both need to lose a little bit of weight, should I cut their food back a bit when they receive a bone, or do little birdy bones not contain enough calories to warrant that?

        1. Jessica

          Since your cat’s could stand to lose a little weight it wouldn’t be a bad idea to reduce the amount of food fed when they get bones. You don’t have to be exact, using equal proportions should work just fine, and you can just estimate it. Its always best to go by your cats weight anyways to see what’s working. Are you feeding any kibble? Kibble of any kind is the worst for dog and cat teeth. The carbs in the kibble stick to the teeth and cause plaque and whatnot just like it does for us humans. Canned food is much better as they are generally much lower in carbs.

          I hope your cat’s like the bones, it’s a lot less stress on everyone than brushing.

          1. Laura

            They used to. Now they eat The Honest Kitchen with bits of “human foods”, like chopped up boiled chicken, added in several times a week, with the THK scaled back accordingly. I’d like to try out different meats and such to see what they like and to add variety.

        2. Aurora Clarke

          Canned is no different than kibble – they just add water, lots of it!
          Cats are often reluctant to chew bones, try starting them on small fresh or frozen [thaw] smelts and caplin with bone in. Other small bones such as quail which can be found in the grocery store as well as rabbit. Some folk go as far as getting rodents at the pet store or online – they are often frozen, sold for feeding snakes.

    2. Acroyali

      Laura, I’m not sure if FIV cats can have increased dental problems, but my guess would be probably simply because of the compromised immune system. My immune compromised ones always have and currently do accumulate tartar on the teeth rapidly.
      I use a childs (very soft bristled) toothbrush on my pets’ teeth. A few of them need it done, a few don’t, but for the ones who do it seems to help as long as I’m diligent. Even being raw fed, they still (due to health issues or genetic problems) have a hard time keeping their teeth from gunking up. I am unimpressed at the ingredients in most pet toothpaste (xylithol does NOT belong!), so I use coconut oil. Most animals LIKE the taste of this stuff, and a few of mine make the job easy. I put the coconut oil on the brush, hold it out, and they proceed to chew on the brush. Couldn’t be easier!
      I’m going to try the teeth and gum cleaning solution. I’ve had marvelous success with using the homeopathic preparation Fragaria Vesca 6x. I dilute a pellet or two in a few drops of water and stir a few times (I usually let the pellets dissolve, but not always) and apply that to problem teeth/areas with the brush or an eyedropper. If done daily (or several times daily), this loosens the tartar and makes it very easy to flick off. You can’t get under the gumline, but for an animal that isn’t the best choice for surgery for whatever reason, this can provide a lot of help. Tissue salts calc. fluor and calc phos can help re-strengthen the tooth enamel and improve over-all mouth help. It’s always best to use any homeopathic preparations away from food and water (I usually give it about 30 minutes).
      I’ve been told baking soda isn’t the best choice for daily cleaning, simply because it’s abrasive and can damage enamel if the enamel is soft, but n=1.

  6. Kathy

    I believe it is a myth that toy dogs cannot eat raw bones. My 5yr old papillon started on raw over 2 months ago. He has since eaten chicken thighs, wings & makes 2 meals out of a leg with the back attached. All dogs should be watched at feeding time. I held his first few bones for him to get used to chewing and almost always feed them frozen. Here is a link to the myth – and also a papillon website I have come across in my research. Thank-you

    1. Acroyali

      My toy dogs have always loved raw bones, too, every bit as much as my much larger dogs! My dogs with good (correct) bites never seem to have the problems with teeth as my dogs with incorrect (undershot, overshot, etc) bites do. I think that has a lot to do with overall gum/teeth health. Years ago I took in a litter of kittens; all but one kitten had a good, correct bite. One did not. Many years later, the kitten (cat) with the incorrect bite has gum and teeth problems; the others never have.
      Roads end papillons is a great breeder 🙂

  7. Garson Hunter

    This is my story and the experience of one person. I have two rescues dogs and their teeth were a mess. The teeth were coated with that dark gunk from kibble, the gums did not look healthy and their breath was awful. Since adopting them they now eat only human grade raw chicken carcass, necks, duck necks, ground turkey carcass. offal and non human grade green tripe. Once per week they each get a can of Pacific salmon with no added sodium. Also once/twice per week they get raw recreational bones that only have slight meat on them to pique the dogs’ interest. After three months the vet said their teeth were clean and didn’t need any work. As an added bonus, their breath no longer smells.

  8. Carolyn Andre

    If I start my cats on raw bones – I’m thinking necks and wing tips? – I presume at first they won’t be finishing a whole piece. What do I do with the remainder? Do I always discard the uneaten part or can I rinse & refrigerate until the next day? Or freeze & thaw?

  9. Sherrie Ashenbremer

    I have five dogs, 3 Shih Tzu, (all about 10 pounds), one Pekingese (13 pounds) & one Beagle/Jack Russell mix (about 25 pounds) all rescue dogs. I just read that the Shih Tzu should not be given raw bones due to the way their mouth is. Any advice? Some of you have said that you give your dogs the bones for say maybe 30 minutes, but I tell you my Pekingese (Opie, especially Opie) one of my Shih Tzu (George) would bite my hand off if I tried to take a bone from them. How do you handle that? I would love to give my dogs raw bones, I purchased a bag of, Yoghund Straight & Marrow Natural Raw Beef Bones frozen treats to give my dogs. But I won’t be able to get them back once George and Opie have these bones. Four of my dogs are Puppy Mill survivors so there is some food aggression. Any ideas for help would be wonderful, thank you

    1. Aurora Clarke

      Ridiculous! If they can eat kibble they can chew bones! My kittens started gnawing raw chicken bones at five weeks of age! I have had a yorkie weighing 7 pounds who chewed bones very well! My dogs are rescues as well and a JRT who is very aggressive with his bones. First you teach them “Leave It” or “Drop It”, both is best then offer them a higher value treat – peanut butter, tripe or even a squeak toy. I use gates to separate my dogs during bone chewing and they often have their bone a whole day or more. Don’t forget dogs are scavengers and opportunists! A rotting wood chuck is a delicacy to them so a 2 day or bone is not a problem. I’ve been feeding raw food and bones 45 years btw with no problems what so ever.

      1. Sherrie Ashenbremer

        You use tripe for a treat? What exactly is that? Where do you get it? I need to teach my dogs Leave It or Drop It. I didn’t think of that, but that is a great idea. My Peke, Opie has several teeth that are rotten and loose. He is having a dental on Dec. 7th, after that I would love to get him on raw bones. And get my other dogs on raw bones. I can’t afford to pay for dentals for 5 dogs all the time. And it’s not good for the dog to be knocked out and have dental every year. Thank you Aurora, any help would be grateful.

        1. Aurora Clarke

          Yes, to tripe dogs love it! Its bovine stomach. Green tripe is tripe with some of the fermented grass clinging to the tissue. Bleached tripe is popular with many ethnic groups including the British – dont’ feed your dogs this type, there is little food value in the bleached tripe. For dogs you can purchase it frozen/raw, dried treats or canned at pet stores. Frozen raw is the most nutritionally beneficial providing a rich source of probiotics.
          I would start Opie on bones ASAP it may save some $ at his dental! Those loose teeth, if they come out while he chews you won’t have to pay the vet for ‘extraction’. Get a big knuckle bone he can nosh on at his leisure. I had a dog who needed her teeth scraped of tartar and I started her on bones, in the two weeks before her appointment. Took her in for the procedure and the vet asked ‘who scheduled her for a cleaning because in his opinion she didn’t need it’!

          Remember that bones and raw food can only do so much – genetics and environment, vaccines and everything else touching their lives is a factor in their health. That said, we almost never require any treatments at our vets aside from the odd wound or something of the sort. I’ve never had a pet who had a teeth cleaning and they tend to live longer, more active lives.

          1. Sherrie Ashenbremer

            Thank youAurora Clarke, I will give my dogs some bones. I purchased a frozen bag of Yoghund Straight & Marrow Natural Raw Beef Bone Frozen treats. They are 2.5″ Beef Marrow Bones, are these good for my dogs? Second thing I have never heard of Tripe at the pet shop? I will call or stop by PetsMart and see if they have this “tripe” Thank you and have a nice Thanksgiving Holiday

          2. Aurora Clarke

            Those are the type of bone I tend to avoid Sherrie. As your dog is small, they may be fine for him. I go to the grocery store for bones, better selection and much cheaper. Big knuckle soup bones, riblets… and button bones the ones we don’t want for ourselves because all the cartilage and gristle. Pork hocks are fine as long as you score the hide with a sharp knife in a cross hatch pattern. The only time I had a dog at risk, she was unable to chew through the tough hide and had pulled off the whole piece of skin and couldn’t get it down. You can toss the skin or score as directed so it can be eaten – its chock full of essential fatty acids and other good things – collagen, glucosamine, and chondroitin to name a few.

          3. Sherrie Ashenbremer

            Thank you Aurora Clarke, I am just so nervous that one of my small dogs will get a bone caught in the throat and get it stuck and choke. But I will check out the Grocery store

          4. Aurora Clarke

            Hi Sherrie, we all share your fear! Truth IS that ALL food has risk! There are instances of puppies and small dogs choking on kibble! There is a much higher risk of dogs bloating on kibble than there is on raw diet. Kibble is often contaminated with salmonella and other toxins. Over a 1000 dogs have died from the Chinese processed foods. Kibble is very hard on the renal system often causing renal failure in later years – because the canine digestive system is designed for MOIST foods not dry cereal based foods! Even the grain free foods are loaded with starchy vegetables where the body converts starch into sugars which can trigger diabetes.

            So, back to bones – its simple, choose LARGE bones they cannot swallow and choke on. Funniest sight I ever saw was my 7 pound Yorkie carrying off a large bovine knee bone that weighed almost as much as she did! It was so heavy her back end was air born! Small dogs are very determined! 🙂

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