After the last Healthy Animal Update (March), several people asked about feeding bones.
One asked: Thanks as always for your newsletter. I would like to ask which of the following raw chicken bones your recommend as safest (30lb and 50lb dog)- chicken thighs or wings (have heard that drumsticks have a nasty bone)? I give raw necks and raw beef heart chunks for breakfast but frankly I do cook the meat for their dinner although I do add ground up raw leafy greens/zucinni etc.
First, realize that nothing is totally safe – deaths happened from processed pet foods; bones get stuck in the mouth (as do sticks, stones, plastic things, toys, etc); diarrhea from raw foods or processed foods can happen; etc.
My cats will not eat a hunk of bony meat (I cut up chicken backs, thighs, legs, wings) bigger than 2 inches. A friend who rescues cats feeds an entire leg or thigh and I watched her 10 cats each eat them completely. A veterinary friend will give her 2 standard poodles a rack of ribs and they wrestle and tear their way through. Many client’s animals will only eat ground meat. A student with a Maltese surprised me when reporting that she eats beef rib bones.
Most importantly, watch your animals eat. If a dog is inhaling a turkey backbone piece, then coughing – try a bigger piece, or hold onto it, so he eats more slowly. A 50 # dog could eat a quarter of a big chicken, a 30# dog may need just a whole breast or leg, two backs or several necks.
In 30 years of raw feeding, I have seen most dogs and cats thrive on the fresh food and I have seen problems with some animals and some bones. Each animal is different, so one person may say chicken legs with bone in cause problems, while someone else had problems with wings because their dog choked on them.
Also, I see no need to ever cook the meat as cooking denatures the bonds, making it less easy for the stomach acids to break it down; it eliminates some of the vitamins and minerals. It is fine to give cooked meat as a treat; to cook meat because you know it is best to feed a variety of locally raised fresh ingredients but you just are too scared to not cook it (at least just sear the outside); to cook meat because your animal, from an ayurvedic or TCVM perspective does better with cooked meat. Again, there is no one right answer.
Finally, the key to knowing what is right is to keep a journal (the digital cat one will be up soon) and look for improvements in the Early Warning Signs of Internal Imbalance. Have it be fun. Do not worry. Deal holistically with any adverse effects.