No matter what your pet is eating, supplementing raw bones into your pet’s diet can have seriously good effects on dental health. Both cats and dogs can enjoy this delicious, biologically-appropriate treat, but it’s important to select the right bone for your pet. We’re here to give you some guidelines on choosing the right raw treat for your furry friend.
Poultry Necks for Cats
Raw bones help keep your cat’s teeth clean and her gums healthy, but it’s especially important to give your kitty the right kind. Poultry necks are the best choice for a cat, and can play an integral role in their dental hygiene.
Necks are made up of cartilage, ligaments and tendons that act as a form of natural dental floss, while chewing the muscle meat can also help keep teeth clean. The process of grinding and crushing the cartilage actually massages the cat’s teeth and gums, cleaning away food residues and helping eliminate tartar development. This, in turn prevents plaque formation, bad breath, dental cavities and gingivitis.
Poultry necks also provide your cat with nutritional support:
- The calcium in raw necks is more digestible than most common calcium supplements.
- A chicken or turkey neck has a calcium/phosphorus ratio of about 1.75 to 1.00.
- Poultry necks contain protein, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
- They give cats a much-needed external source of arginine, an essential amino acid.
Because poultry necks are made of cartilage, they’re soft and spongy rather than hard. At the Barkery, we have a variety of poultry necks available from Rawsome, OC Raw, and Primal. Although these poultry necks are fairly large, we recommend cutting them into smaller, easy to handle pieces. While our finicky felines are less likely than dogs to gobble down an entire hunk of neck, it’s best to avoid bones of a size that will tempt them to swallow without chewing.
Introducing Poultry Necks
Start small with poultry necks, but cutting down the size to a piece that is slightly bigger than your cat’s mouth. As your cat gets used to handling and chewing on the necks, you can increase the size of the pieces.
Some cats will go into overdrive at first sight of a poultry neck. Our little carnivores instinctively know how to crush and chew a bone. It’s a good idea to get kittens started young with poultry necks so their teeth stay healthy.
It might be difficult to get some adult cats eating bones if they’re not used to fresh meat or already have bad teeth or a dental problem. If your cat displays any discomfort with raw necks, the issue may involve a great deal of tartar and gum recession, and may be time for a dental check with your veterinarian.
If your cat remains unimpressed with your new and wonderful idea, entice her by sprinkling a little tuna juice on the necks the first few times. You can also sprinkle the necks with dry powdered liver or catnip, or rub some canned food on them. A finicky feline may require a few attempts, but don’t give up!
Raw Bones for Dogs
A variety of bone types are generally fed as part of a raw diet. Even if your dog is not on a raw diet, supplementing raw recreational bones containing meat, marrow, and cartilage can satisfy nutrient needs, entertain your dog, and have a major impact on dental health!
Raw bones can provide hours of entertainment for your pup. If you’re worried about the mess, you can feed raw bones inside or outside. If you are feeding inside, it’s best to train your dog to eat it in a particular area, such as on a towel or in the kennel, so that it’s easy for you to wash down the area when feeding time is over.
Choose the Right Size
You must choose the right-sized bone for the right-sized dog. It’s not always as simple as small dog/small bone or large dog/large bone. Observe the way your dog chews and ingests a bone. An 80-pound golden retriever might daintily savor and nibble a chicken neck, while a Pomeranian might try to swallow it whole.
It’s best to choose a bone that is large enough that your dog will not be able to swallow without chewing. After all, the purpose of feeding a raw recreational bone is to clean the teeth.
Introducing Recreational Bones
If your dog is new to recreational bones, it’s best to introduce them slowly to prevent digestive upset. We recommend feeding the bone for about 10-15 minutes, then taking it away. Wait 2-3 days and try it again, but allowing your dog to chew on it for 5 more minutes. Increase the time increments slowly to ensure your dog’s gut is healthy enough to digest the rich nutrients.
You should never cook or microwave raw bones or poultry necks. The benefits of eating bones are greatly reduced by cooking them, and it can actually create dangers. With raw poultry necks and bones, cooking them renders them tougher and more brittle, which means they’ll likely break apart into larger chunks more easily. Your cat or dog may swallow a piece that’s too large to digest, necessitating a trip to the vet.
Broken teeth can occur when feeding bones. Long bones such as femurs are quite hard on the surface, which can result in teeth breaking with aggressive chewers. Flat bones, such as bones found in the spinal column, ribs, pelvis and shoulder, are a better choice for medium to large size dogs because they’re much softer and harder to clamp down on.
Don’t leave raw bones to dry out. They can become brittle and chip, or cause a tooth fracture if your dog continues to chew on them. Let your dog chew on them for a day or two, then toss them in the garbage.
Eating large amounts of bone can cause constipation in dogs. You might see white or yellowish, powdery stools or even yellow, runny stools. It’s important to check on your dog to make sure he’s gnawing on the meat and not chomping down too much bone. If your dog eats more of a bone than intended, just feed him more meat and less bone for the next couple of meals. This will balance out his minerals, including calcium and phosphorus.
Always supervise when you’re feeding a raw bone. This is especially important in multiple-dog households. When a delicious raw meaty bone is present, the behavior of your dogs may change from friendly to aggressive and protective. Many pet owners choose to feed raw bones in separate locations when multiple dogs are present.
Feeding raw bones is an easy way to manage dental health, provide nutrients, and entertain your pet for hours. Imagine your dog having a nice afternoon in the sun, chewing a healthy and delicious treat. You’ll find that your dog is tired and happy after spending the day with a bone, and his belly will be full, too!