Many dog parents consider raw beef marrow bones as the ultimate recreational and healthy treat for their furbabies. In fact, many commercially available bones of this type are sold at pet stores.
The advocates of giving dogs raw marrow bones claim that they have multiple health benefits for the animals. And that they can also serve as natural toothbrushes and chew toys to keep them engaged.
But those who oppose this practice support the idea that eating raw bones or meat can lead to nasty and, in some cases, fatal infections with bacteria, parasites, and viruses if the meat source is unreliable.
As always, we recommend that you discuss with your vet whether or not it is advisable to treat your four-legged companion with marrow bones or other new foods.
Most dog owners and vets agree that you shouldn’t give pups cooked large bones. The reason is that the high temperatures can make them brittle and easy to break into sharp shards that can hurt and even be fatal to the dog.
Here are the pros and cons of giving marrow bones to dogs.
Pros Of Giving Marrow Bones To Dogs
Bones of all kinds have long been considered a natural diet for canines. Most people, who are convinced of their benefits, believe that adding raw bones such as beef marrow bones to the dog’s diet can have the following advantages:
The safely sourced and properly cut and portioned small raw bones, which the dog can eat and digest. They can provide it with essential nutrients, including the calcium it needs for bone and tooth health.
Larger marrow bones from reliable sources can be excellent recreational chew toys and keep the pup entertained and stimulated. They can be very helpful for dogs suffering from anxiety or for bored pups.
Raw marrow bones are packed with other healthy nutrients. These include protein, collagen, glucosamine, calcium, phosphorus, and chondroitin, which can boost the dog’s health and well-being.
The bone marrow contains adiponectin, which decreases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers associated with obesity in canines.
Chewing on the raw bone can help keep the pup’s teeth clean and its gums healthy.
Most dogs will crave and love chewing on raw marrow bones.
Do I Need To Cook The Marrow Bones For My Dog?
No, you should never give your furbaby any cooked bones. The main reason is that the heat from the cooking process can make them brittle, and they can splinter into sharp pieces easily. Such shards can easily cut your pup’s mouth, throat, or intestines or cause a puncture or an obstruction of its gastrointestinal tract, which can be life-threatening.
The only way to safely feed your pup with cooked marrow bones is to boil them and slow cook them. This will allow you to make that rich, nutritious, and hydrating broth that you can add to your pup’s food or use for preparing dog-friendly treats.
Cons Of Giving Marrow Bones To Dogs
The veterinarians and others who are against feeding dogs with raw marrow bones claim that the risks are greater than the potential benefits for the pup.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, in fact, warns dog parents that they can cause fractured teeth, intestinal perforations, or obstructions or lead to gastroenteritis.
Here are the risks of feeding your dog raw bones.
Large raw marrow bones can easily break your dog’s teeth which can be painful and difficult to treat. In most cases, your pup will need to have the damaged teeth extracted.
So, it is recommended to only give your pup a raw marrow bone as an occasional treat and monitor it closely as it chews on it.
Allow the dog to chew it until it gets the marrow out, and once the bone is empty and starts to dry out, discard it. The reason is that it can become harder and more likely to cause damage to your pet’s teeth or can splinter when it is dry, leading to potential cuts, damage to the esophagus and the digestive tract, or blockage.
Keep in mind that the marrow itself, while delicious, is quite fatty, so if your pup has a sensitive stomach, it may cause digestive upsets such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even lead to gastroenteritis and pancreatitis.
Large bones with a lot of marrow are also high in calories, so be careful about the quantities and sizes of bones you give to your dog. In general, it is recommended that you treat your pup with suitably sized raw marrow bone only occasionally.
Make sure to calculate the calories to be no more than 10% of the pup’s recommended daily caloric intake. At the same time, reduce the portion size of its food by 10%. This rule of thumb is valid for any dog treats and snacks you add to your pet’s regular, complete, balanced diet.
If the dog swallows a large piece of the bone, it can cause a blockage in its intestines. This often requires surgical intervention and can be a life-threatening condition.
Aggression And Resource Guarding
If you have more than one dog or other pets in the house, you should be careful when handing out highly desirable treats such as raw marrow bones. Dogs can become highly protective of their bones, leading to incidents and fights among them or even accidents with the humans in the house.
How Can I Minimize The Risk Of Feeding Marrow Bones To My Dog?
If you want your pup to benefit from the nutritional qualities of the bones but without the abovementioned risks, don’t hurry to throw your bones away. Instead, use these and any other leftover bones from your cooking and meals to make a rich, nutritious, healthy broth.
Slow cook the bones in water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and dog-friendly veggies such as carrots.
Do not add salt, fat, or other harmful ingredients like onions or garlic.
What Do The Veterinarians Think About Marrow Bones For Dogs?
Veterinarians are split when it comes to feeding dogs with raw marrow bones. Some support and even encourage the practice, and others oppose it.
Speak to your vet before giving your pet any uncooked bones or any other new food it is not accustomed to.
Some canines can be allergic or sensitive to beef or other proteins, so monitor your furry friend for potential adverse reactions when you first give it a raw bone.
To provide your pet the benefits of all nutrients in the bones and marrow, the safest way to do it is to extract these nutrients by slowly cooking them into a broth and giving your dog the broth only.
If you want to give your dog a bone as a chew toy, you may choose a safer variant, such as a chew toy or a Kong or other toy stuffed with food instead.
Cow or pig ears are another safer alternative to give to your pet, but only if they come from trusted sources.
As you can see, giving your pup marrow bone has many pros and cons.
If your vet approves of it, choose bones that are manageable in size and come from a reliable source, and monitor the dog as it chews on them.
Never feed your pup cooked bones, bones that are too large and can cause tooth fractures, or bones that are too little and can easily be swallowed and cause an obstruction or choking.