Bones 102: A Feeding Guide to Bones

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Written by Sarah Griffiths, DCH and Inna Shekhtman

December 13, 2017

Consumable (Meal Bones) vs Non-Consumable (Recreational Bones)

There are two types of bones you can give your pet: Consumable bones which can be eaten and digested as a meal or non-consumable bones which are too hard to chew and digest, but are great for for recreation.

Consumable bones include: chicken necks, turkey/elk/lamb necks, buffalo knuckles and whole herring.
Non-Consumable Bones include: beef and buffalo femurs, elk bones, boar drums and lamb shanks (can only be partially eaten eg. cartilage, meat and marrow).

Types of Bones

Beef and Buffalo Femurs (Recreational):
Femurs are the long bones of ungulate animals. These bones are load bearing and consequently have a hard outer layer that is not consumable. They have a soft, fatty marrow in the middle.

Recommended For: Gentle chewers
NOT Recommended For: Aggressive chewers and dogs over 80 lbs (unless they are very soft chewers)

Small Femurs: Dogs under 20 lbs
Med/Large Femurs:  Dogs 20 – 80 lbs

Beef and Buffalo Knuckles (Consumable):
Knuckle bones are the joint bones of ungulates. They are softer than femurs and provide a great source of calcium and phosphorus. Knuckles are good bones for all types of chewers. They make great toothbrushes by stimulating the gums and providing an abrasive surface the removes plaque from the teeth. The joint and cartilage tissue is a raw, natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin.

Recommended For: Aggressive-chewers
NOT Recommended For: Dogs that try to swallow the whole bone instead of chewing.

Small Knuckles: Cats and Dogs under 20 lbs
Medium Knuckles:  Dogs 20 – 50 lbs
Large Knuckles: Dogs 50+

Chicken Necks (Consumable):
Chicken necks are consumable bones that are great for small dogs and cats. They are a perfect toothbrush for small breed dogs that are predisposed to dental disease. Chicken necks are totally edible so they are appropriate for larger sized dogs too. Just give multiple necks to make a meal!

Recommended For: Cats and Dogs under 20 lbs
NOT Recommended For: Dogs that gulp bones instead of chewing.

Turkey Necks (Consumable):
Turkey necks are consumable bones that are great for medium and large dogs. Like chicken necks, they are an excellent toothbrush and provide a high-quality source of calcium too. You can feed more than one to make an appropriately sized meal for your dog.

Recommended For: Most dogs.
NOT Recommended For: Cats and dogs that gulp bones instead of chewing, hold the bone to teach your dog to chew on it.

Boar Drums (Consumable/Recreational):
Drums are the joint and femur bone all in one. The joint pieces on either end are consumable but the femur section is not. Boar bones are suitable for small or medium sized dogs and large dogs that are gentle chewers. A great source of macro and micro minerals. Available in cut or whole sizes.

Recommended For: Cats and Dogs under 20 lbs
NOT Recommended For: Medium and large dogs, or dogs that gulp bones instead of chewing.

Lamb Shanks (Meaty Meal with a Recreational center!):
Our meaty lamb shanks are best for small dogs and can be fed as a meaty meal. They contain a non-consumable center and some marrow.

Recommended For: Cats and Dogs under 20 lbs
NOT Recommended For: Medium and large dogs, or dogs that gulp bones instead of chewing. Cats and dogs with fat sensitivities (eg. pancreatitis).

Meaty Beef Bones (Meaty Meal with a Recreational center):
Our meaty beef bones are the large dog version of the meaty lamb shanks. The meat makes a great meal and the femur in the center is recreational only. The meaty beef bones contain some marrow and shouldn’t be given to dogs with fat sensitivities (eg. pancreatitis). 

Recommended For:
Mini:  Cats and Dogs under 20 lbs
Small: Dogs under 40 lbs
Large: Dogs over 40 lbs

NOT Recommended For: Aggressive chewers should be closely supervised – take away once meat is gone. Cats and dogs with fat sensitivities (eg. pancreatitis).

Whole Herring (Consumable):
A fresh raw fish is great meal for all sizes. Herring is totally consumable and a great way to add omega 3’s and micro minerals to the raw diet. Feed several of them as a meal for larger dogs.

Recommended For: All dogs
NOT Recommended For: Cats

Elk Bones (Recreational):
Elk is a great option for pets that have protein intolerances to more common proteins. It includes both joint and femur bone so NOT appropriate for large dogs or aggressive chewers. Great for small and medium dogs. Consider this one a recreational bone. 

Recommended For: Small and Medium Dogs
NOT Recommended For: Cats and Large Dogs

Read Bones 101: Bone Feeding Basics for a breakdown of introducing bones, myths and misconceptions, how to teach your pets about bones and best practices for feeding bones.