Are marrow bones safe for dogs?
When I was a kid my family had a cocker spaniel. She ate kibble, 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. Adding vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) helps 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.
Looking for more ideas for healthy “human” foods you can share with your dog? Check out my other blogging from A to Z challenge posts!
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?
When I was young, our dog loved chewing on the occasional bone and licking out the marrow but then again she would chew on just about anything she could get – onions, lumps of coal and once my beloved wooden sandals. Luckily, she never got into any problems and lived to a good old age but I’m sure many will find your article insightful and it’s always good to know about potential problems as you quite rightly say vets’ bills are to be avoided if at all possible!!
A Stormy Sidekick
Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace
Vet bills are no fun! I had a similar story. My childhood dog chewed on marrow bones quite frequently, all throughout her life and they never caused any problems. I’m a bit more careful about what I give my own dogs now. You have to find a balance, I suppose, between being careful but at the same time, you can’t keep your dogs in a plastic bubble. It’s awesome when you can find alternatives – ways to give dogs things they enjoy while also eliminating some of the risk, like using marrow bones to create bone broth! Thanks so much for your comment!
So. We can’t feed a dog a bone now, is that right? I didn’t realise it could be so [email protected] I am glad there are alternatives and I am sure lots of people still want to give their dog something good to chew!
There are lots of bones that are safe to feed dogs! When it comes to raw meaty bones, you’d want to look for softer bones that dogs can actually chew up/digest. I give my Fenrir raw poultry bones (chicken, duck, turkey) and Kitsune, who is allergic to poultry, often gets pork and lamb bones. You want to avoid the weight baring bones of large animals – such as beef marrow bones. Those types of bones are very dense and shouldn’t actually be eaten by dogs. They are harder than dog’s teeth and can cause expensive, painful tooth fractures/breaks. They are also not digestible, so can cause GI blockages if swallowed. I’m sure lots of dogs have chewed on beef marrow bones with no issues, but I figure why risk it? Especially when there are safer chewing options!
I always wonder about giving my dog raw bones, especially marrow bones. I can’t believe there are some serious dangers to dogs eating them! Thanks for all this detail, I think I will stick to bone broth for dogs. I haven’t made it myself, I mostly use the packaged kind, I’ve actually just started giving my dogs bone broth. It’s so healthy!