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Marrow Bones for Dogs: How often is too much?


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Hi,

 

I used to give Buddy a frozen marrow bone every week or so, as a treat. This new dog, Cricket - I'm giving her a lot more. She loves to be in the yard, and it's nice to have her in the yard, but she digs holes if she doesn't have something to entertain her. So, I've been giving her a marrow bone maybe 3-4 times a week. It lets her be outside, and gives me an hour or so to rest after work before I do a big hike with her.

 

Her teeth look cleaner and whiter already (it's been about a month of this). But I'm worried she might be getting too many calories or too much fat from the marrow. The stores used to have nice long bones cut into 1-2" thick slices, but now all the butchers seem to have is longer ones - maybe 3 - 5" long. I'm also worried about too much wear and tear on the teeth and gums.

 

How often do you folks feed marrow bones as treats, in supplement to the regular food? If I feed Cricket a longish one, should I skip dinner that night?

 

She's a wee thing - 20 pounds or so - and in very good physical shape, runs a lot, and doesn't seem to be inclined to pack on weight. I can still see her ribs when she inhales deeply.

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If she is a hard chewer then I'd worry about tooth damage. Have you considered using a stuffed frozen kong a few times a week instead of a marrow bone so frequently? Maybe continue on with once a week but use a kong the rest of the time?

 

Treat toys (I like the busy buddy kibble nibble) that dispense her meals one piece at a time may be another worthwhile option!

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I'd be much more worried about her breaking a tooth than anything. As long as she's not gaining too much weight or having loose stools, the marrow's a great source of nutrition.

 

I'm guessing the reason you can't find the 1-2" cut marrow bones anymore is because people have realized how dangerous they can be. Huge choking hazards for many dogs and a lot also get them caught in the roofs of their mouths between their teeth.

 

Honestly, instead of anything as hard as a weight bearing bone from a larger ungulate, I'd be looking for edible raw bones to feed.

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What are some edible raw bones that would be good?

 

Generally speaking it's advised to stay away from weight bearing bones of large ungulates. So that would mean any kind of leg bones from cattle and other large animals.

 

Many people consider leg bones from sheep, deer, pigs, etc. to be OK, but the vet noticed a broken premolar in Bodhi at his last exam and I haven't given a beef marrow bone for ages, so long that I don't even know that he's ever had one. I have given deer leg bones and pork, so now I'm rethinking what's safe. Of course it's possible he could have broken it on something else, but I really can't imagine what. Ke's not a dog who even pick up rocks, much less chews them so I'm 99% sure it was bone. Of course he may have had a weakness or hairline crack from something from before I adopted him that just gave way recently.

 

Sorry for the tangent.

 

Ribs and neck bones from older, very mature cattle might be too hard, but most commercially available bones won't be from animals that old. Deer, sheep and pork ribs and necks are great choices and with hunting season fast approaching you might be able to get deer bones from processors.

 

Poultry bones are always a good choice, though I'm a little skeptical about turkey femurs since the splinter so sharply. I know dogs' digestive juices make short work of them, but it concerns me that they might puncture when they're first consumed. I might be overly cautious though as I know a lot of people who feed them. Turkey necks OTOH are great, and feeding them frozen makes than last a little longer. I do that with chicken backs as well.

 

Always, all these bones must be raw. Feeding cooked bones of any kind is hazardous as heat renders them indigestible, subject to sharply splintering and a real puncture risk.

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Thanks for the info! I have been looking for chicken and turkey backs and necks. It seems as though I find them in my local grocery once every couple months, and then they disappear for a long time. (When I had Buddy, I would buy them up and freeze them... but I literally haven't seen any in the three months I've had Cricket!)

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You could ask the meat department manager if they could order a case of them for you. They usually come in 40 lb. cases.

 

And/or look in your Yellow Pages for meat - wholesale (or search online, adding your location). You should be able to find a supplier who can get them by the case.

 

Be forewarned that when buying them by the case they usually don't have the fat trimmed off. That's fine for a lot of high energy dogs, and if she's not having problems with several marrow bones a week Cricket might be able to handle it. But you might want to trim some of it off at first to make sure it's not too much for her. Too much can result in loose (or worse!) stools at first until their digestive tracts acclimate. And, of course, for some dogs too much fat will lead to, well, too much fat. ;)

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