Raw Bones for Dogs

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Raw bones are good for dogs; they are probably the best way to clean their teeth.  It’s natural for dogs to chew, and they get a great deal of enjoyment out of knawing and chewing bones.

So, let’s take a look at feeding raw bones to dogs.

Most people know that it is not safe to feed dogs cooked chicken or turkey bones.  Generally, steer away from any cooked bones because they can splinter and break into small pieces.  These bone fragments can be very dangerous for our dogs as they can cause damage to their digestive system by cutting or getting lodged.

Raw Bones

Before Dentasticks and similar manmade processed chews for dogs, many people would feed their dogs on a raw bone from the butcher as a weekly treat.  Whilst some old school breeders and individuals haven’t stopped this practice the more recent movement of feeding a raw food diet known as BARF which is short for Bones and Raw Food has brought the idea of feeding raw bones back to the forefront of dog keepers minds. 

The BARF diet tends to include raw poultry, wild-caught game birds, beef and lamb, all fed as meat on the bones. 

Those who feed a BARF diet claim that it is quite safe to feed bones as part of the dog’s diet and that doing so aids digestion and that the raw bones don’t splinter as cooked bones do.

However, many veterinarians advise against feeding raw bones except for marrow bones (beef shin bones).  They also warn that feeding of raw meat and bones can cause illness to pets and people as they may carry pathogens, like E. coli, listeria and salmonella.

Arguably, anyone whose terrier has brought home the remains of a rabbit that they’ve been eating that has clearly been dead for a while will say that dogs don’t seem to be affected by those problems.

Some vets will also tell you that you should not feed dogs chicken bones raw or cooked because there are a lot of sharp bones on a chicken carcass and they splinter easily. Vet’s do also warn that emergency surgery to remove obstructions in the intestines is often caused from the dog eating bones.

The sensible option if you want to give your dog bones or feed BARF is to source your dog’s food carefully. You should know where the bones have come from, its best to buy from a local butcher.

Generally, the feeding of raw bones is safer than cooked bones. Although, there are some raw bones that you shouldn’t ever feed to your dog:

  • Chicken carcass
  • Pork bones
  • Rib bones (because they are flexible and likely to crack and can get stuck in a terrier’s throat
  • Bones that are smaller than your terrier’s mouth could cause a choking hazard.
  • Always avoid any bones that have been cut into much smaller pieces because they could be a choking hazard. 
  • Also, be aware that bones might cause digestive upsets in dogs who are not used to having them.


You should only give puppies marrow bones, which you can have cut into smaller lengths; but no smaller than around 10cm long for a Patterdale terrier size breed. 

Marrow bones help puppies by occupying them and helping with teething.  The puppies also soon learn to work at getting the marrow out which also exercises their minds.


Any bone for any dog could become a choking hazard when it gets small, so it is a sensible precaution to remove them when they become small enough to fit into your terrier’s mouth.

When you want to make use of meat and bones leftover from your meal, there is a definite advantage to boiling up as a soup and making a tasty bone broth or bone gravy for your dog to enjoy once it has been strained and cooled.

Feeding bones or giving them as a boredom buster or teeth cleaner remains a contentious issue. So, the sensible option is only to feed marrow bones from a reliable source if you want your dog to enjoy the benefits of enjoying raw bones.  After all it is natural for dogs to clean their teeth that way.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about How to Brush your Dogs teeth and Natural Dog Chews.

2 thoughts on “Raw Bones for Dogs”

  1. Hi Amy
    It’s good to read about the benefits of raw feeding. We rescued our Patterdale at a young age and struggled with feeding for a while. We tried him with the “better” dog foods which he would eat for a short while but then refuse. He started to lose weight and become quite lethargic. I researched raw feeding in detail and once we switched, we never looked back. Without going in to too much detail, he thrived; he put on 1.5kg in solid muscle in some 2 months (I think he had some Staffie in him, as it suited him perfectly), his temperament became more even and his coat and teeth were pristine and there was never any “dog smell” in our house at all.
    It took some research but finding a good supplier is key, once you have that it helps enormously; we eventually found a farm shop in Ormskirk that was an excellent source. I realise it is far more common now and there are online suppliers to help with the move to raw but, for me, the website rawfeddogs.org was a big help in my research at the time, although I would always advise people to look into the different schools (prey model/BARF).
    It won’t work for everyone but the benefits far outweighed the negatives for us. One tip is to make sure you have a spare freezer if you can! I would buy in bulk, cut up, bag & freeze a month’s supply at a time, then take out to defrost overnight & throw it in the garden for him every morning. Chicken carcasses were a staple in the end, but he also loved ribs, chicken necks and sardines. Heart & kidney was good in moderation, but he never took to lung!

    We lost our boy suddenly last week at 17 1/2 years of age; he was still so youthful full of energy until his last day and we miss him terribly. Patterdales are such awesome dogs.


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