There are two important things to take away from this post. The first is the importance of giving your dog a bone. The second is the importance of thinking through your blog post titles. This is “part two,” because I already wrote a post with this title, despite the fact that it had little to nothing to do with giving your dog a bone. Lesson learned.
I was inspired to write this by way of the fact that it is Pet Dental Health Month. I know this because as a professional in the animal care industry it’s important for me to have my finger on the pulse of such things, and definitely not because my friend sent me a text message saying “one of my students just submitted an assignment on Pet Dental Health Month, you should write about it!” So here we are, me in the airport on the second last day of September, Googling whether it is in fact Pet Dental Health Month and discovering that no, it’s not. It was in August. I guess you can’t just take everything nine year olds say at face value…
Nonetheless, the dental health of our pets is paramount. So much of our health begins in our mouth. The food we eat (or don’t eat), our digestion and the care we take of our teeth and gums all have an enormous impact on our overall health, and dogs are no different.
So it may surprise you to learn that wolves do not have toothbrushes. Shocking, I know. How on earth did dogs keep their teeth clean before the invention of denta bones and canine dentistry in all its myriad forms? A veritable mystery. Well, not really. They did it by eating bones, or as I like to call them, nature’s toothbrush.
Unlike tinned or dry dog foods, which offer no dental benefits and can actually significantly contribute to or cause periodontal distress, the act of ripping and tearing flesh and crunching bones actually cleans a dog’s teeth while they eat. “Traditional” dog food, despite its claims otherwise, creates a build up of food on the teeth, which can cause bacteria to enter the body and lead to a host of health issues. This build up will also likely cause teeth to rot, gums to become inflamed, heinous doggy breath that with make you question all of your life choices up to that point, and perhaps most distressingly, a life of pain for the animal. Routinely feeding bones will significantly improve and may even resolve many of these issues. Certainly feeding your dog bones from a young age is the best way to avoid these problems.
Bones also serve a number of other functions in the canine diet, including the crucial provision of calcium from meaty bones, which are fully consumed. The awfully ironic exception to this is if your pup’s dental health is too poor to tolerate bones from years of eating food that doesn’t support their dental health. In this case, or if you omit meaty bones in a fresh diet for any other reason, you need to supplement your dogs’ food with calcium.
The third and equally important benefit of bones is the mental stimulation they offer. Chewing a meaty bone for an hour is the doggy equivalent of …oh I don’t know. I didn’t think this analogy through. Harder than the quiz in the Herald Sun, not as taxing as writing an academic paper. But I guarantee they’ll need a nap afterwards.
The best part is, unless they have a specific ailment that prevents it, all dogs can eat bones. For recreation, choose something that is large so it cannot be swallowed whole, from an animal smaller than a cow (not too hard or weight bearing), something that isn’t too marrow-y as this is mostly fat, and always supervise your dog when chewing. Take it away if it gets too small. The only thing I need you to promise me is that you will never ever ever feed your dog cooked bones. Never ever.