Raw "Entertainment" Bones: Yay or Nay?

Most veterinarians you ask will tell you that bones of any kind are a nay. Giving dog a bone is generally discouraged. The recommendation is using bone replacement chews such as rawhides or nylabones.

Cookie feasting on a raw venison bone.

I am not a fan of bone replacement chews.

I don't see the point of having my dog chewing on a piece of plastic material shaped like a bone. And I don't see that being any safer either. And rawhides are their own story all together. Plus the one time I gave in and tried giving Cookie rawhide chews specially designed for dental health, she almost choked on it.

Safer? I don't think so.

Of course I have concerns. When Cookie introduced herself to raw diet, she started by catching and eating small critters. With the bones, of course.

When I started introducing raw bones to her diet, I decided to play it safe with turkey necks and chicken feet. Cookie has been eating those for over a year and never had the slightest issue with it.

When a friend brought a partridge or a rabbit for her, I let her eat it as it was, including the bones. She never had the slightest issue with it.

Those are classified as edible bones.

Entertainment bones are those that are too large and too hard to actually be eaten. Raw meaty bones meant to be gnawed on. Of course, I can imagine some dogs will attempt to actually eat those too and either break off and eat pieces that are too large or break a tooth on them. Which is obviously a bad thing.

I believe the use of bones depends on the bone and on the dog.

I tried introducing Cookie to the entertainment bones a few times. But while she knew perfectly well what to do with a half of a bunny or partridge, she didn't seem to get the idea of bones meant for gnawing. She'd lick it for a while and the walk away from it.

Which was fine, there was no real need for her to get them.

Now, though, with the extreme exercise restrictions during her recovery from the iliopsoas injury, and the new one she managed to start the new year with, entertainment became scarce.

Yes, we play games, yes she has food and puzzle toys. All of that doesn't take up enough time out of the day. So I decided to try and introduce an entertainment bone once again.

It took a little while but Cookie finally figured out what they're for.

That is awesome because one bone can give her something to do for one to two hours. That's a lot of entertainment bang for the buck.

Cookie gets these regularly now. Between that, the medication she's on, play and the short walks she can have now once again, she is actually tired at the end of the day. EVERYBODY is happy.

What makes these bones safe for Cookie?

  1. They are served raw, of course. NEVER feed your dog cooked bones.
  2. I am always there to supervise. I would never give a dog a bone and leave them along with it.
  3. She knows that she's supposed to gnaw on the soft bits (meat, cartilage and connective tissue) and doesn't try to actually chew up the hard parts of the bone. If she did, I couldn't give them to her.
There is always some risk with everything.

The question is whether the risk is outweighed by benefits. In Cookies case, it certainly is. Not to mention how great her teeth look. She is practically brushing her teeth for one to two hours a day!

I will always be a bit nervous giving her any kind of bones because disasters can happen.

I think that's okay because it makes me vigilant and careful. Careful about the choice of bones and careful about strict supervision. But for Cookie, raw entertainment bones are a "yay".

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  1. Supervision has been key for our dogs. It taught me which bones worked and which didn't work for our dogs and it allowed me to train them on how to properly gnaw on the bones. Now they do great. They know they can eat the duck necks and eat the meat off of recreational bones.

    I let them gnaw away until right before the bones become a choking hazard.

    This is a great time for us to practice "drop it."

    1. Yeah, I would never consider just giving a bone and leaving a dog alone with it. Cookie does well too, though for the longest time couldn't figure out the entertainment bones.

      We already have a solid "out" which is being constantly reinforced while she's chewing on water bottles or sticks. She knows that when she spits the chunk out, she gets a treat in exchange. By now she spits them out even when I don't catch it to ask for her to do so.

      Just once I had a big scare with "food" bone when she was eating a rabbit leg and decided to just swallow the shank bone. I was freaking out but nothing bad came from it. From then on, though, I just remove that part because it doesn't have enough meat on it and I don't want a repeat of that adventure.

  2. My dogs love raw bones. Like you, I always supervise them when they're gnawing on them. They're a definite yay! at my house.

    1. Great to hear. I think the hype about bones has gone too far. There are risks with other items and "replacement bones" just as well.

      Bones can be safe when done properly.


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