Tell me about raw, meaty bones

After writing some about those dental chews, I got lots of great comments from people who said that they used raw, meaty bones as their dental regimen of choice. Because, let’s be real: (1) Those dental chews aren’t really doing that much for them, even though the dogs enjoy them, and (2) I am not very faithful about brushing their teeth; I do it like, once every two weeks.

I know this isn't a raw bone, but, you get the idea... Creative Commons license.
I know this isn’t a raw bone, but, you get the idea… Creative Commons license.

I know that raw bones are the best (and most natural) way to keep a dog’s teeth clean. The only thing is… I’ve never tried it before, and I feel kind of intimidated! We don’t eat much meat ourselves, and so I’m rather inexperienced at the butcher’s counter.

So, here are some questions for you, if you give your dogs raw, meaty bones:

  1. Where do you get your raw, meaty bones?
  2. What kind of bone should I ask for? Like, from which animal? From which part of the animal?
  3. How do you give these to your dogs? (Outside, in a dish, etc.?)
  4. How long does it take your dog to get through a particular of bone?
  5. For multi-dog households: Eden has some resource guarding issues. I think it’d be best to separate them while they’re working on their bones. Do you separate your dogs when such high-value items as raw bones are being consumed?

You guys are the best source of information! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Looking forward to exploring this new territory.

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17 thoughts on “Tell me about raw, meaty bones

  1. We have two dogs, but only one gets a raw bone, since the other is virtually free of plaque/tartar just with daily brushing.

    Neither has resource guarding problems and they are always in separate rooms when the bone comes out.

    Our dog who gets the bones is a little self-feeding chihuahua who is really fussy about food. It takes him 10-15 minites to eat a chicken winglet, but only half that time is actual eating.

    I wouldn’t know what the big guys eat, but for our 7-lb dog, grocery store chicken works. It does get very messy when the dogs get to the marrow, so they should only eat outside or on tile. Our dog likes to drag his bone around, so we have to keep him enclosed in a tile area because of the marrow mess.

    Raw meaty bones are awesome.

  2. We used to get our large raw bones from a village farm shop butchers section. They gave them away free for dogs. We also bought them, frozen, from a really great pet shop we used to live by too.

    We used to give our pups their bones in their crate; Kasper had his on the carpet a few times but it got a little messy, and he wouldn’t leave it in a dish.

    Kasper has some resource guarding issues too, with toys mainly. But yeah, we separate our dogs when feeding high value items.

    I’m interested to read the other comments to this one; we’ve tried numerous times feeding our dogs raw, meaty bones and have had to stop because they always manage to pull huge chunks off and swallow them whole, even the large bones. This results in them being sick, so we had to give up on them. I’d love a way to be able to give them raw bones though.

  3. Raw meaty bones are also called rec (recreational) bones: they are meant to be chewed, not eaten.

    My dogs have beautiful teeth because of RMBs, I never brush their teeth. They are definitely high value here so the dogs get them in their crates.

    Locally I buy bones at Asian Markets. Some of my online raw feeding sources also sell them.

  4. Silas eats a raw diet, but I cannot get him to chew raw bones recreationally. He looks down at the bone like “Obviously, that is too large for me to consume. What do you expect me to do with it?”

    I was in a similar place when we started–my husband is a vegetarian, and I don’t cook meat. I really wanted exact instructions. Wings okay, drumsticks bad, or something like that. It, sadly, doesn’t exist.

    I will say, if your dogs are good chewers, they’ll get pretty good dental benefits from raw bones that they can fully consume. Something like a turkey neck would be a good one. Some dogs will gulp down their “dinner” bones mostly whole, which is why people buy the really big bones.

    1. There’s a really great group called K9 Nutrition that has a yahoo group and also a facebook group where you can ask questions and chat with others feeding raw. It’s a pretty good resource when looking for what you can and can’t feed your dog. I’ve been a member for over 10 years and find it very valuable!

  5. I used to give Rufus a raw bone once a week for this purpose. I was told that the knuckle bone is the best for cleaning teeth because it has a lot of nooks and crannies for them to dig into. It would take Rufus hours to get through one and most of the time he loved it. Unfortunately, he went through a phase where he wasn’t eating them right away and it started to gross me out thinking about this raw bone sitting on the ground, collecting bacteria. I gave up this ritual but it did work really well for a period of time.

  6. You can get them almost anywhere, even pet food stores that sell raw food. Though from the butcher or from whole foods is better (just my opinion, they have bigger bones). You’ll be asking for beef marrow bones which will be a leg bone. At the butcher you would be able to specify size and ask for the bones to be about 5-6 inches long (since the ladies are not small dogs). You can do knuckle bones too.

    With two dogs, I would separate them and just crate them. You can remove any padding that is in there to keep it from getting marrow and slobber on it. Wipe the crate down with a little bleach/water or even vinegar/water mixture and you’re good. I would let the dogs chew for however long it lasts them and then toss the bone when it’s done. I do not keep thawed chewed on bones around.

    I haven’t given bones in such a long time since Avery can’t chew on hard stuff like that. Penny definitely could so I should probably consider it for her.

  7. Raw meaty bones are awesome and your dogs will love you ’til the end of time! I usually ask at the butcher counter at Whole Foods for “raw bones for dogs” they usually give big beef knuckle bones or maybe femurs. In a pinch, most supermarkets have a frozen package of raw bones usually labeled “soup bones” that are just smaller cut up pieces of raw bones.

    I usually give them outside because they do make a mess but otherwise they chew them on their dog beds inside and I just take off and wash the covers after. They slip around so the dogs will want a surface they can keep it steady on like grass or a towel. We do not separate because we have no resource guarding issues but I would 100% if we did. They are high value!

    Sometimes they don’t finish but they get all the meat off and they return to chew on the marrow part(which dries out) for the rest of the week. But they can attract ants if they are left out and still fresh:(

    Enjoy!

  8. I started feeding my girls raw bones when my vet actually recommended it. I mainly get my bones from Southern Foods, which is a large local butcher/food service company in Greensboro, NC. I also use a local butcher and have used Whole Foods. I would guess that any butcher you use will know what to do.
    Generally they eat femur bones cut about 3-5″. Sometimes they are pre cut at the butcher shop, if not I tend to go larger (5″). I usually buy about 20 pounds at a time and it will last me several weeks. They should be kept in the freezer and not thawed when you give to your girls. Give them frozen.

    You may need to adjust the size according to what your girls like. My lab loves the marrow part of the bone best and my GSD likes the knuckles,

    They are messy. I have put my girls in their crate or I have put a sheet down for them them to chew on, but they can get messy so crate is probably best so you can clean after.
    My dogs do like the knuckles as well. It is okay if they break and eat pieces off, just make sure you pick them up before they get too small.
    Your girls will love them and so will you when you see their teeth.

    Keep us posted!

  9. There seems to be a bit of confusion about what an RMB is and what a recreational bone is. The people talking about large beef bones and knuckle bones are talking about recreational bones (not meant to be eaten, and often why veterinarians cite “raw feeding” as a main cause of broken teeth – they are too dense and dogs can get too intense about them; they also have way too much bone for the skim amount of meat on them). Even chicken wings have way too much bone for me and many others to feel comfortable feeding them. The picture you have is of a rec bone, not an rmb, as I think you know, but many others are confused about.

    The few talking about actual RMBs are those that have a substantial amount of meat on them and a small amount of bone. I LOVE RMBs. They are the sole reason that Elli’s veterinary dentist rated her teeth as a 1 on a 1-4 scale, with 1 being minimal to no periodontal disease and 4 being “in need of extraction, diseased teeth” periodontal disease. I feed raw turkey necks (vertebrae surrounded by about an inch on all sides of meat), raw emu necks (same), rabbit frames (vertebrae, rib cages, surrounded by about 3/4″ of meat on all sides), and goat frames ( halves of rib cages – no vertebrae – surrounded by about 1″ of meat on all sides).

    To answer your questions:
    1. I do not acquire my RMBs from butchers. If I get anything from butchers, it’s offal. And, again, very rarely do I buy from butchers. I get mine from a regional co-op located in Oregon/Washington. I stock up pretty substantially whenever I am in that area, asking my parents to pick up the meat and store it until I can come and get it. I also buy meat from a Pennsylvania farm that runs a business called Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow. (www.hare-today.com). That’s where I typically get my rabbit from. I get it shipped directly to my home in 4 days; it costs a pretty penny for that service, so I buy lots once or twice a year. People with cats and snakes will buy rodents, guinea pigs, mice/rats, chicks, and rabbits from rodentpro.com once in a while, another site that will deliver to your home for a large amount of money. My co-op buys in bulk over hundreds of members, so we get a large discount on large amounts of RMBs. I STRONGLY suggest joining a local co-op. I found mine via http://dogaware.com/diet/rawgroups.html. You could also try a basic google search. That website also has ALOT of information on feeding RMBs.

    2. Many raw feeders use poultry as a substantial contributor to their dog’s overall diet. I fed a lot of exotic meats because Elli is allergic to some poultry. The keyword there is VARIETY. If you get stuck feeding only one or two animals ever, you run the risk of your dog being undernourished or even malnourished. Basically, my veterinarian has told me that if the bone hurts to tap on your kneecap, then you should not feed it to your dog. Dogs can certainly break lots of bones, but they are non-weightbearing bones and are, thus, exponentially less dense, less harmful, and more natural.

    3. Elli usually eats her meals in her kennel. I have a special kennel mat that is incredibly easy to clean and disinfect. This is definitely a topic of training to feed raw. If a dog only gets his meals in one location and loses his meals when he eats it elsewhere (because you take them or redirect him/cue him back onto his mat/towel/bed/kennel), then it’s more likely that he will eat in the location that he gets his meals.

    4. It depends on a lot of factors. Elli is a been-around-the-bush kinda raw fed dog. πŸ™‚ She’s been eating RMBs for 2 years now. Rabbits take her all of 5-9 minutes; she’s been trained by hand how to chew every bone very well before swallowing; turkey/emu necks (whole) take her 10-15 minutes. The bigger the meal, the longer it takes. Sardines (8-10 inches long, wild-caught from California) take her 3-6 minutes.

    5. I don’t know if you’ve been reading my blog, but I’m getting a puppy soon. I will soon have a multi-dog household and Elli has some resource-guarding tendencies as well. I am a fond supporter of confinement when eating such high value items. Separation is key. There is also some preventative action you can take; teaching both dogs to accept each other eating nearby CAN be shaped; I intend to cover this when I have a second pup. If I were to judge correctly, separation will be a big part of your home. And there is nothing wrong with that! πŸ™‚

    WOW. So much information – I hope all of this makes sense. Feel free to email me on this topic if you want more. πŸ™‚ Considering you’re like me in that you love to research dog sh*t πŸ™‚ – I hope to hear from ya soon. πŸ™‚

  10. I get our raw meaty bones through our local co-op and through Pet Food Direct (Primal). My favorite brand is Vital Essentials.

    Right now, I only give our dogs knuckle and knee caps (both beef). They will be trying turkey necks and chicken wings next.

    Our dogs only get these outside under supervision, or inside on a blanket (we have hardwoods) when my boyfriend isn’t around.(he doesn’t want them eating them inside, but we live in the PNW and that would mean only 3-4 months of bones and that doesn’t work)

    Our dogs get 45-1 hour working on a bone and then I take them away – usually when Rodrigo finishes his, because he likes to steal and hoard the bones.

    Resource guarding is why we feed our dogs outside in the yard; each goes to a separate corner to eat their bones, but I can see all of them, because they’re still close to me. Inside, I create 4 areas for the dogs and they know their spot.

  11. Riley gets raw bones. We’ve tried both pork and beef, but something about the pork tends to upset her stomach (with the exception of pigs ears) and she gets diarrhea pretty bad so we stick to beef bones.

    I avoid chicken or turkey, though I was interested to see so many here feed it. I’ve always been told not to since the bones are small enough for the dogs to swallow and can get caught in their throats.

    I typically buy BIG bonesβ€”leg bone pieces or knuckle bones and I always start them in her crate. She usually takes an hour or two to get the meat off of it… and then I’ll let both her and the bone out of the crate. Maybe I’m a bit less “neat” than the others on here, but once the meats gone (so no blood or whatever to get on the carpet) I let her chew it where ever she wants. You may want to keep it in the crate though, with Eden’s resource guarding.

    I have found if I let her keep chewing it after the meat is gone (she’ll still gnaw on the bone for a while, trying to get every last bit of marrow out), sometimes she’ll bite off small pieces and if she doesn’t chew them enough they get stuck in her throat (almost like grass) and she’ll throw them back up…. so I try to take them away before she gets to this point.

    Otherwise, she loves them and they really keep her teeth looking great.

  12. Our dogs are separated when they get raw bones at our house, and it doesn’t happen too often. We mostly stick to the warmer months so they can eat them outside on the porch where clean up is easy. We usually get raw turkey necks. They’re cheap, and you can get them at a butcher shop, but you can also get them at grocery stores like Schnuck’s. Our dogs really like them and it doesn’t take them too long to go through one. We generally use it in place of one meal.

  13. I see a couple people have already mentioned the difference between rec bones and RMBs. Knuckle bones, etc. are “rec” bones. Though some call them “wreck” bones because of their tendency to chip/break teeth. Some dogs can chew on them safely when they’re raw, other dogs cannot. A good RMB all depends on the size of the dog. For GSD’s, turkey necks, racks of beef or lamb ribs, whole pig’s feet, etc. are all good.

    These sites may also be of help to you:

    http://www.saveourshepherds.org/raw.html

    http://www.myrottendogs.com/

  14. I don’t give rec/wreck bones, because my dogs have strong jaws and I am fearful of broken teeth. In my experience, the best edible bones that provide a dental benefit are turkey necks and pork/goat/venison ribs, at least a three rib slab.

  15. I have a beef femur bone in the freezer. I used to feed these to my dogs, or rather, let them chew on them. One dog I had never got sick, nor had any problems of other kinds. Another dog’s mouth was so large and his chewing ability was so strong, he would chew way too hard and his gums bled quickly. I had to give him one that the other dog had already eaten the meat off, and watch carefully.

    The dog I have now has IBS, probably general bowel disease, a problem digesting food, which means either buying prescription Hill’s ID or cooking, the latter of which I must say is a trying task for me.

    So, the bone is in the freezer, waiting. I don’t know if the raw meat might make her sick.

    Also, many vets I’ve had are highly against bones of any kind. The vet I had for years, said he’d never take the chance giving his dogs bones because of the, “accidents,” he has treated as a result of dogs eating bones.

    Do you think I should give my girl the bone? Particularly, with the raw beef on it, since she has such a sensitive tummy? I wish I could because she used to love them.

    Good post. I enjoyed reading the comments!

  16. Yes, definitely lots of bones in our house. We get them from a nearby ’boutique’ pet shop (small name, locally owned, deals in quality foods), or from friends who hunt, or from a butcher the odd time. Beef and bison are most common, but the ones from friends who hunt are obviously deer. Bison bones are harder than beef bones, so depends on how your dog handles them whether or not you want to go in that direction (tooth damage possibilities, etc). We’ve given ribs, necks, knuckles, femurs, you name it.

    We always feed them outside because it’s a disgusting mess otherwise, and we just put Moses and Alma outside and check in regularly since Moses has been known to decimate and completely ingest smaller bones. So, how long it takes them to go through one depends on the size of bone, the animal it’s from, and how much meat is on it.

    Alma’s resource guarding with Moses is now non-existant, so we can leave them outside together, but with other dogs, I don’t risk it and want them separated. If that’s the case, she gets to chew the bone in her kennel (she’s less messy than Moses, anyway).

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