• Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN

(Bone) Size Matters

Updated: Jul 12

Raw bones are a staple in a raw diet and make up 10-15% edible bone content for dogs. They provide a great source of essential calcium, mental & physical enrichment, and help keep plaque & tartar off the teeth. Feeding the right bone size prevents choking issues and ensures that the dog can safely consume the entire edible bone.

Recreational vs. Edible

There are 2 types of bones: recreational & edible.

  • Recreational Bones: meant for chewing and not consuming. They are mostly weight-bearing and filled with marrow. These bones include ruminant knuckles, femurs, etc.

  • Edible Bones: precisely what it sounds like, edible! They are hollow, non-weight-bearing bones such as poultry feet, necks, and wings.

Feeding cooked, dehydrated, or raw recreational bone should be avoided at all costs. There is a chance for a cracked tooth, which is extremely painful and expensive. The chance of a fractured tooth increases if the dog is a power chewer.

Safe to consume edible bones include

  • Poultry Wings (except turkey as they can be very dense)

  • Poultry Necks

  • Poultry Feet

  • Poultry Frames

  • Poultry Heads

  • Tails

Risky bones to stay away from

  • Turkey Drums/Wings: These can be very dense and splinter easily. If anything, you can trim the muscle meat off the bone and use the extra bone for homemade bone broth.

  • Weight-Bearing Bones: Very dense and can cause a fractured tooth, especially for power chewers. These include beef bones, shanks, femurs, etc.

  • Machine-Cut Bones: These are mostly found in grocery stores. The bones have sharp edges and small pieces through the meat, which can be a choking hazard.

  • Cooked Bones: Cooked, boiled, dehydrated, and smoked bones should never be fed. They are dry and brittle, which changes the molecular structure and causes them to splinter more severely.

Which Bone To Choose?

Thankfully, there are various sizes of bones to match the various sizes of dogs. It's pretty much impossible to feed a bone that's "too big" since you can offer a bigger edible bone in multiple sessions, but you can feed a bone that is too small. This is why it's important to feed an appropriate size bone. Below is a rough guideline on appropriate bones to their proper sizes.

Safety Precautions

  • Always supervise while feeding.

  • If your dog is a gulper, you can either feed ground bone or hold the bone with your hand or pliers.

  • Raw bones can get messy, so feed outside or on an easy-to-clean surface.

  • Never feed cooked/dehydrated/smoked/boiled bones.

Following these guidelines will ensure that you have easy feeding when it comes to edible bones. It is crucial to remember that every animal is unique, and something different works for everyone! Some dogs do better on a ground bone, while other need supplements. The best thing is to find out what works for you and your pup.