Never, never, never feed cooked bones to your pet. Cooked bones are more brittle than raw bones and can splinter when your pet eats them and perforate their intestinal tract. They can also blunt your pet’s teeth after regular chewing, or can even cause broken teeth. Cooked bones are harder to digest due to the collagen becoming denatured during the cooking process, (Lazarus, 1999).
In addition to being dangerous to a pet’s health the cooking process causes bones to lose many of their nutrients, including essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins (A, D and E), proteins and enzymes. During the cooking process the chemical structure of minerals change making them unavailable and potentially toxic, while the calcium may chemically combine with iron, copper, phosphorous and zinc making them unavailable as they pass through the digestive track.
Cooking reduces the quality of the protein in bones, while bone marrow which is rich in blood forming nutrients becomes less valuable and vitamins are destroyed by heat. Cooking also destroys enzymes which are essential to the digestive process and a healthy gut.
A dog’s digestive system has evolved to digest raw bones; their stomach requires a low ph of 2 to maintain the necessary acidic level required to digest bones. A dog’s digestive system is incapable of digesting cooked bones, and due to being brittle they could puncture the digestive track, rectum etc. as they pass through the body.
Raw Meaty Bones
Raw bones are an important part of a pets diet as they provide many health benefits to pets:
They bulk up stools making them firm and assisting to express the anal glands as they’re eliminated from the body. Full anal glands can be painful and if they are not adequately expressed they can become blocked causing infection which leads to pain and necessitating surgery.
Meaty bones take time to rip, tear and chew giving the digestive system time to prepare for the arrival and digestion of food, preventing indigestion and a feeling of discomfort after eating.
Bone eating prevents obesity because once the digestive system is full it sends a message to the brain to stop eating. Obesity is a problem for dogs fed a commercial pet food as they tend to overeat before their digestive system has a chance to tell the brain it is satisfied.
They supply a balanced level of minerals, e.g. calcium and phosphorous. The right balance of minerals is important to ensure that dog’s are not adversely affected by an overabundance or low level of minerals which can lead to disease and/or growth and bone formation problems. Minerals are necessary in the correct ratio to ensure they are effectively used by the body.
Bones are also natures toothbrush and help clean a dog’s teeth and massage gums, which is the reverse effect of commercial dog food.
Finally, bones provide dogs with a great way to exercise their entire body (jaw, neck, legs, shoulders and back). Observe your dog eating a bone, how they stretch and bend to chew a bone, this gives their body a great workout.
Are of vital importance for healthy development of bone and muscle tone in growing dogs, preventing bone diseases and building a strong immune system.
They are emotionally and physically satisfying for a dog.
Dogs and cats require a diet of both bone and meat as neither one provide all the nutrients a pet requires to grow and maintain health. Also, as different meats contain different levels of nutrients e.g. protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, a diet comprising a variety of these meats ensures a full complement of nutrients is consumed.
Meat is rich in protein and many other nutrients needed by dogs and cats (Pitcairn, 2005). However, meat is deficient in calcium, iodine, copper and the vitamins A, E, D and some of the B vitamins (Billinghurst, 1993).
Bones are rich in minerals, fat soluble vitamins, enzymes, protein and amino acids (except methionine which is found in meat) but lack some of the B vitamins. Therefore, feeding raw meaty bones supplies your pet with a nutrient rich meal. What bones lack in nutrients, meat provides.
Billinghurst, Dr. Ian, 1993, Give Your Dog a Bone, 22nd Print, Warrigal Publishing, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Lazarus, Pat, 1999, Keep Your Dog Health the Natural Way, The Ballantine Publishing Group, New York, USA
Schultze, Kymthy, 1998, Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: the Ultimate Diet, Hay House Inc, USA