These bones are all leg sections of a cow. These are bones we would feed and recommend. We also like bones from lamb, goat and pig.
Why feed them? Loads of calcium, lots of good nutrients in the marrow, and boy do these ever work on their teeth! I have 5-6 year old adult dogs who have NO teeth issues and very minimal plaque build up. By that age, a large breed kibble fed dog most likely is experiencing periodontal disease and various other teeth ailments. These bones will work their jaws, encourage saliva production, and scrape plaque off.
How often to feed them? We do once a week. These bones aren't complete meals. They are recreational bones. Something the dogs just love to do - Chew! And some power packed nutrients and teeth cleaning thrown in for the humans to admire. If you're feeding them too often the calcium overload isn't healthy.
Risks? Oh yeah. Broken teeth are a big factor. We do NOT recommend smoked bones from the pet store. Only raw bones as they are much softer. We also do NOT recommend very large sections of bone. If the dog cannot get to the marrow, the bone is either too large or too narrow. Very hard walled bones (like the one pictured to the right) will encourage very determined chewing and potentially break teeth. Even the biggest dogs will have trouble getting to the good stuff inside but that won't stop them from trying. Skip long, narrow bones with hard outer walls.
The best bones to feed? Soft ones. These are wide, deep bones with meat on them, thin outer walls, and plenty of marrow that can easily be accessed like this bone pictured on the left. Neck bones are also a great option, but we do not recommend neck or spine bones from wild game as there are various disease risks to consider.
Where to get these bones? Your butcher! Sure, grocery stores carry "soup bones" but those are not typically cut into small, wide, manageable pieces like the ones we're picturing here. Instead, go ask a few butchers if they can offer you bones like these for your dogs. Most are glad to be able to sell something they would otherwise have to dispose of!
Did you notice these bones are frozen? Well, to help reduce really aggressive chewing that can break teeth or potentially cause a dog to swallow a large chunk, we feed the bones frozen to slow the dogs down. After all, we can't just say, "savour it, will ya?" We also feed these in crates where the surface can easily be sanitized. They will make a huge mess on your carpet and probably bury them if left outside. As such, we recommend to crate your dog with these bones followed by a quick wipe down when your dog has finished his chewing adventure.
And finally, what age to start these bones? I give neck bones, which have more meat, to my litters of puppies to chew on for a while. When they're done, I let mom have what's left over. Puppies can be started on these bones as long as the sections are wide, cut small, and you supervise them.
It's important to note that for the reasons mentioned above (too much calcium from overfeeding, broken teeth, etc) many folks choose not to feed these bones. Some are adamant that no one should feed them! It's an individual choice. What works for us may not work for you. Proceed with caution and supervise your dog with these types of bones.