Are marrow bones safe for dogs?
When I was a kid my family had a cocker spaniel. She ate grocery store kibble (hey, I was young and didn't know any better), but my dad also used to give her an array of raw bones to chew. I remember raw marrow bones were one of her favorite treats. She would spend hours working on them, trying to figure out how to get all of the coveted marrow out. There are health benefits to feeding dogs marrow, but when I got older and had dogs of my own (ha) I learned that there are also potential dangers associated with feeding raw marrow bones.
I remember when I first got Kitsune, doing research about what types of bones are safe for dogs and coming across numerous accounts of dogs who had gotten marrow bones stuck on their lower jaws. Hollow marrow bones can get lodged around dog's lower jaw, right behind the canine teeth. Apparently this phenomenon isn't all that uncommon. Sometimes the bones get so stuck that vets have to use bone saws to remove them.
You could argue that selecting the right sized bone could eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, this risk. Even so, there are other potential problems. Weight bearing bones of large animals, which includes beef marrow bones, are very hard - harder than dog's teeth. Hard bones plus over exuberant dogs can lead to broken or fractured teeth, which can be painful and expensive to treat.
If marrow bones are so dangerous, why did we include it on our A to Z foods list?
The marrow inside marrow bones contains vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Fatty acids help promote healthy brain function, skin and fur health, faster wound healing, and a healthy immune system. Marrow contains elements important to the body including vitamin A, iron, calcium, phosphorous, and zinc to name a few.
To give my dogs the benefits of consuming marrow, while also avoiding the potential dangers that can come with giving them intact marrow bones, I make them bone broth!
Bone broth is, basically, soup stock that's made by allowing bones to simmer in water for long periods of time. Add vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) to help draw nutrients from the bones. I use our slow cooker to make bone broth and almost always include at least one beef marrow bone, although other types of bones can be used as well. When your broth is done, make sure to strain out the bones and only offer your dog the liquid/jelly (bone broth has a gelatin like consistency after it cools).
Bone broth is an amazing food topper. It can be a great way to get nutrients into a sick dog. Like the gelatin we posted about the other day, bone broth can help support joint health. It contains natural forms of glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as many other essential vitamins and minerals. If you make too much, you can freeze bone broth to make it last longer. I usually freeze it in ice cube trays so I can easily defrost a few cubes at a time.
Making bone broth is a great way to provide your dog with the benefits of marrow bones, without having to deal with any of the potential drawbacks. Do you like cooking for your dog? Have you ever tried making bone broth?
This post is a part of the 2016 Blogging from A to Z challenge! You can learn more about our challenge theme here.