• Why give a dog a bone, and which ones do I choose???
  • Luciana Callaghan
Why give a dog a bone, and which ones do I choose???

Let’s face it … many pet dogs suffer from boredom and sometimes bad breath from poor dental hygiene!

Most dogs lie around the house all day, waiting for us to get home from work. Even if you work from home, or your dog goes to work with you, your dog probably still gets a lot of downtime.

Many ways to occupy your dog is with a Kong type toy stuffed with treats/ food, or leave food puzzles, or utilize snuffle mats scattered with treats.all of these are great for boredom, however, they do not address the underlining issues of dental hygiene.

That’s where raw meaty bones come in …

Chewing on a bone is an emotionally satisfying experience for your dog. Whilst your dog is slowly getting through a meaty bone, they are using their jaws and this crunching and chewing jaw action (masticating) releases dopamine…making your dog bliss out and feel content.

What happens to your dogs’ teeth and how effective bones are at achieving dental hygiene depends on the type of bone you give your dog and then matching your dog’s size, facial structure and chewing habits.

Choosing the right type of Raw Meaty bone.

There are typically two types of bones you can feed your dog: long bones and flat bones.

Long bones are the bones normally found in the legs of animals. These bones are made for weight bearing and because of this, they tend to have a hard, smooth surface along with a centre filled with loads of marrow. The ends of these bones are soft and contain a lot of cartilage. Long bones need to be monitored with big dogs as they can scoff off the cartilage covered ends leading to blockages. Although these bones have quite a bit of fatty bone marrow, they don’t tend to have much meat on them, and the centre parts can splinter due to the structure of these load bearing bones. Lastly, these bones can wear a dog’s teeth down leading to more dental issues that you were trying to solve.


Flat bones are the bones found in the spinal column, ribs, pelvis and shoulder. They’re softer than long bones and don’t contain as much marrow. They also have more convoluted surfaces and tend to have more meat on them with a soft marrow centre.

These are the preferred bones to feed dogs for dental hygiene.

Choose the Right Sized Bone.

Large Dogs
I recommend bones from cows, kangaroos, sheep and turkeys.

Chicken wings and necks are often eaten without even chewing, they are too small, which renders the dental hygiene aspect void. Still a nice meal...

Cow and Lamb necks are perfect for a long chewing session, but please do not be feeding your dog a full dinner, as meaty bones still count towards overall calorie intake. Lamb and Cow necks and Kangaroo Tails are great for cleaning the canines and those little front incisors, as your dog uses their paw to hold the bones whilst ripping off the meat.

Turkey necks are a lower fat option for your dog. They are awesome at cleaning the back teeth. Briskets are a favourite of larger dogs. I prefer lamb to beef because they tend to have less fat attached.


Small and Medium Dogs
Bones from smaller animals such as goats, lamb, turkey can be eaten by smaller dogs, if chopped to the appropriate size. For example. A quarter of a lamb or turkey neck is perfect for small dogs, and even dogs with flat faces can get their mouths around the turkey necks.

Chopped Turkey necks can be completely devoured by little dogs.

Meaty lamb necks, due to the convoluted shape, provide a great clean for incisors, but many dogs leave the harder bone once all marrow etc is chewed off.


Lamb ribs (briskets) are also a great option as you can actually cut between the ribs to easily make a smaller portion size.


Chicken necks and wings are ok for very little dogs to clean molars. In general chicken wings carry the most calories.

Feeding Bones Safely


Chewing bones, although safe for the most part, can create problems in your dog if your bone choices are poor, or your dog has a medical issue.

Pancreatic dogs.

I wouldn’t feed a dog who has already had a pancreatic episode most raw bones.
Pancreatitis is life threatening, and it doesn’t just go away. Once your dog has had pancreatitis, they are likely to have other episodes if their diet is not dramatically changed. Bones can inflame this condition. There are plenty of options for dental hygiene for dogs with this condition.


Cooked Bones
Never feed cooked bones of any kind! These bones are hard and can easily break a tooth or splinter and cause ruptures in the stomach and bowel.


Old Bones

Throw what’s left of the bone away at the end of the day or it’ll start to dry out and become more like a cooked bone.


The Goodbye Bone.
A great way to help with separation anxiety is giving your dog a bone as you walk out the door, by the time they figure out you’re are gone, after eating that bone, they will be so blissed out they won’t care. However, never leave bones with your dog if they are a scoffer, or you have never seen them eat that particular bone before. or there is more than one dog in the house as this can cause food resource guarding and fighting.

Multiple dogs in the home

Always be present when feeding bones to dogs who live together, and make sure they are separated. Bones can bring out canine behaviours such as resource guarding.

Children, Dogs and Bones.

Never allow children near dogs with bones. Teach children in your care to leave dogs with bones (and any food) alone.

  • Luciana Callaghan