Let's start with bones and what kind and how much to include in your dog’s raw diet. Good bones to include as part of your dog’s meals are all the smaller ones — wings, necks, feet (yes with chicken claws) or drumsticks from an organic chicken, turkey or duck. These are typically the most accessible and easy to find ones. And to answer your question even before you would have one popping up in your mind: no, it doesn’t matter if a dog swallows these whole — their stomach will safely break it down.
But do use your conscious mind and don't use bones that can get stuck in your dog, puppy in particular. I myself prefer to grind the small cartilaginous bones, especially for young pups that are still mastering their chewing and swallowing techniques. However, when grinding it you have to be very particular about the size as small pieces can be sharp. Hence unless you have a Vitamix blender to use to grind the bones they are safer to be given whole.
However, don't be a stranger to other types of bones as well like big bones. These can include marrow bones, pork feet and tails (even ears are awesome for cartilage and chondroitin supplement), lamb necks, turkey necks, goats’ ribs and alike. Feed large bones on ‘bone days’ when your dog would get just a good meaty bone for the entire day. These will help your dog’s digestive system to wind down as well as promote natural teeth cleaning (lol like going to a dental hygenist to clean all that tar build up and teeth stones)
BONES TO AVOID GIVING WHOLE would be ones that are considered “supporting” or “load-bearing’. Such as flank, femur and knuckle. These bones are dense and may easily result in broken teeth or compacted molars — expensive to treat and painful for your dog. I will admit, however, that I do give them at a time to some of my older dogs who are known to be excessive chewers. But they are only given for a limited amount of time as “stress relief” or “boredom toy” rather than as a nutritional supplement. It’s reasonable to allow your dog to chew the meat from these bones but not to grind the bone down further. So you’d need to supervise your dog with these bones and remove them at the appropriate time.
In fact, it's a good idea to always supervise a dog when eating a bone, to guard against bones being swallowed in chunks and blocking airways.
Perhaps THE BIGGEST NO-NO when it comes to bones, is cooked bones. Never, ever feed bones that are fully or partially cooked (smoked or baked as per marketing packages). Cooking a bone turns it brittle and it will splinter and tear at the oesophagus. They really are very dangerous.
Now to the all so good and OFFAL. This I promise to keep short and sweet. Offal, also known as organ meats or variety meats, the literal definition of offal is to “fall off”—that is, whatever falls off the skeleton during the butchering process. This includes internal organs such as the heart, liver, lungs, brain, tongue, bone marrow, tripe, blood, kidneys, and the spleen.
Offal is a nutritional treasure trove. A hearty source of nutrients like B-complex vitamins, vitamins E, D and K2, amino acids, iron, and trace minerals like copper, chromium, and zinc, offal is proving to be a nearly one-stop-shop for your dog’s nutritional needs, as well it is rich in protein. Ideally, it should account for 10–15% of your dog’s diet (slightly higher for a young growing pup).
Just to give you an idea here is the scientific fact for you to show you how nutritional offal can be, let’s take a look at the top three organ meats—and their benefits—that you might consider adding to your dog’s diet routine:
1. Liver: Liver is the biggest winner when it comes to packing a nutritional punch. Not only does it rank high in protein, coming in at a 20 grams per serving, it’s also a great source of copper, folic acid, and iron. Thanks to its Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the liver has a cardiovascular benefit—it improves endurance and strength, and has a somewhat magical “fatigue-fighting” effect. 2. Kidneys: Packing in a lot of protein without the extra fat, kidneys are also high in B12, riboflavin, and iron, and also contain B6, folate, and niacin. 3. Heart: Heart contains amino acids and a high amount of protein, thiamine, folate, selenium, phosphorus and zinc—a combination proven to build muscle and stamina, improve metabolism, and provide an anti-aging effect.
So now think how much money you would be saving on not buying those highly advertised and nicely packaged dog multivitamins that are honestly just a big scheme in my opinion.
Stay tuned for my next blurb on a raw diet. It will be on how to balance your dog’s diet. And a few easy-to-follow recipes that you can easily
prep yourself without overpaying for commercial branded packaged raw food.