Is bone marrow too rich for dogs? Expert Advice

Should Marrow Bones Be Cooked for Dogs?

First, the easy answer: you should never give your dog or puppy cooked bones. Whether you’ve barbecued them, roasted them or boiled them, a bone that has been heated has been cooked–and that means you do NOT want to give it to your dog as a chew. Save it make your dog a nice batch of bone broth, a much safer way for your dog to enjoy the nutrients still found in the cooked bone.

The cooking process dehydrates the bones, making them far more likely to splinter and break. Splintered bones can puncture an organ and lead to life-threatening complications.

Beyond that, though, things get a little stickier with both pros and cons to giving your dog marrow bones.

#1: Sourcing Marrow Bones

The BEST place to obtain marrow bones for dogs is your local butcher, the meat counter at your grocer, or the frozen section of your local pet store. Why? Marrow bones need to stay frozen or refrigerated to prevent bacterial growth. Remember, marrow bones have meat attached to them. Meat SPOILS at room temperature. You don’t want to give your dog rotten meat.

If you’re at a meat counter, ask for the marrow bones to be cut on the vertical. This provides those typical half-circles you’re familiar with. The vertical cut is the safest for your dog to chew on. Horizontal cuts splinter.

Long femur bones prompt the most damage to teeth. Small neck bones are the most likely to get swallowed whole, causing choking or intestinal obstructions.

It sounds a little strange, but try to avoid marrow bones from older animals. The longer an animal lives, the more chances it has for exposure to environmental toxins. (You don’t want your dog chewing on that kind of thing) Lamb, chicken, and young cow bones are your best option. Try to avoid bones from pigs and ANY rib bones – they crumble easily.

How to Feed Bone Marrow to Our Dogs

So, now that we know that bone marrow has a lot of health benefits (studies linked below), how do we add it to our dogs diet? Yeah, we can buy marrow bones, but Im still nervous about them, so I did some research to find out if there are any marrow products for pets.

I found a highly reviewed bone marrow supplement for humans, but I dont know how much we should give to dogs (or if we should). Its easy to get excited about adding bone marrow to the diet given the benefits, but should we?

And Steves Real Food offers split marrow bones (which exposes the bone marrow more), which I want to try because my dogs can get to the marrow easily and its less bone for them to gnaw, which makes me feel more comfortable. Of course, I would monitor my dogs while chewing.

I was tempted to buy the supplements for myself, but I want to speak with a nutritionist first. Do I need to be on a keto diet to make this additional fat work in my diet? Who knows?

Feeding Bone Marrow to your Dog – Is it Safe

Despite the precautions outlined below, bones can become an important part of your dog’s diet. When fed responsibly, they can help with their dental, diet and mental health.

Supervise your pet when feeding raw bones and manage your pack if you have a multi-dog household. Bones are high value resource and fights can break out.

NEVER feed cooked chicken bones, or any kind of cooked fowl bones – EVER. They can splinter and perforate your pet’s intestines or stomach and cause severe injuries or death.

Slow Roasted marrow or femur bones offered by some pet manufacturers while okay to give to your dog, offer none of the benefits of raw bones. Your dog might chew off a large chunk, something more easily done with a cooked bone, swallow it and not be able to digest it causing gut pain (colic), scarring of the gut lining and bleeding, choking, impaction, even death. Never feed a knuckle or marrow bone that you have cooked at home….those will definitely splinter and cause harm.

Large dogs can handle large bones like 5” or larger marrow bones, large knuckle bones, whole chicken frames and wings. Do not give a large dog a small bone ever. They tend to want to try and swallow the smaller bones and they can become lodge in their throat or they can get bones stuck across the roof of the mouth or behind their molars. If giving dogs raw poultry necks, always chopped them up…some dogs will try to swallow the whole neck and can suffocate or choke to death. Some bones, like chicken bones, are for consuming quickly while others, like beef and bison bones, take a bit more time.

Do not feed bones to dogs that tend to break their teeth when chewing or to dogs that have had restorative dental work.

If your pooch has a predisposition to pancreatitis, withhold raw marrow bones as they are too rich. You can however scoop out most of the marrow and feed a “low fat” bone to that pooch so they can enjoy the other benefits.

Do not feed pork bones. Only feed rib bones to very small pooches. Most medium to large dogs will run into trouble if you let them have rib bones because they tend to consume too much bone which can result in impaction or because the rib bone can be broken into smaller pieces becoming a choking hazard (see size the bone right).

Always refreeze or refrigerate bones that still have marrow and meat left on them. Put the bone in the refrigerator if giving it back the next day or refreeze it if several days will pass before the bone is given again.

Toss old bones away that don’t have any marrow or meat left. Even though your pooch might enjoy gnawing on it, it can become brittle and break apart.

Knowing the precautions of how to feed raw meaty bones will keep you pets happy, healthy and chewing!

Cats are obligate carnivores and as such require high quality animal protein, muscle meat and organ meat, plus raw meaty bones. Cut up a turkey or chicken neck, removing most of the skin, and let them have at it. Once accomplished, the pieces can be larger. Sometimes, cats prefer starting with the softer chicken bones, including backs, wings and legs. Again, NEVER cook these products as the bones will become brittle and splinter causing very serious injury to your cat. Get them started young. Your cats will soon be begging you for raw bones and you’ll be rewarded with seeing brilliant feline fangs!