Do Raw Meaty Bones Cause Fractures: The Results

We asked 290 Raw and Dry Feeders if Raw Meaty Bones Cause Tooth Fractures, Here are the Results of 541 Dogs…

Raw meaty bone tooth fracture table

This was the informal questionnaire put to both raw and dry feeders on my Facebook page over the weekend. Some data was excluded on the basis of incorrect submissions. Any folk that said they had multiple dogs over years but did not specify how many were put in as a single dog.

It is an interesting snapshot of what’s going on. In general, the vast majority of pet owners feed raw meaty bones encountered no issues whatsoever with some owners reporting multiple dogs over decades, another stating “hundreds of rescue greyhounds” has passed through her hands, all eating raw bones, all without incident. The resounding sentiment was that if the correct bones are fed (always raw, no weight bearing bones, certainly not of beef) the dog is highly likely to be safe and injury free.

I asked each owner that did see a fracture, what bone did the damage. Of those owners that witnessed raw bone-chewing damage, 16 responded with further information. Of these 16, 8 reported damage occurred on beef marrow / soup / knuckle bones (all leg bones), 2 on lamb leg bones, 1 on lamb spine, 1 on turkey leg, 1 on beef rib and 1 on a “pork bone”.

One poster highlighted the dangers of “cut bones”. These are bones that have been sawn into smaller pieces by the butcher. The sharp edge creates a sharp right-angled wedge which gets between teeth. When force is applied it visciously separates the teeth, causing breakages. Do not feed cut bones.

So, of all bones, clearly beef leg bones are doing the largest amount of damage. You need to avoid these guys. As a weight-bearing bone, they are necessarily reinforced with zinc and all sorts of minerals, making them much harder than thus riskier for teeth. Even that hollow diamond shape is not accidental, it all adds to its strength. The dog puts huge pressure down on the pyramid-shape which can result in the teeth skidding off and clashing with great force. While many dogs can get away with it I would avoid beef (and pork or even lamb) leg bones if fractures are to be avoided.

Also, many posters highlighted that while raw meaty bones have caused no damage antlers certainly did. Antlers are really hard guys, used for fighting, they too are reinforced and are clearly causing some dogs issues.

To extrapolate the findings further (and it’s getting quite tenuous now!), it’s interesting that only 31 of 501 (6%) raw feeding owners witnessed an incident. For dry feeding owners, the figure was much higher at 15% (5 of 34). Of course, this sample size is ridiculously small but it was the results I was expecting. The reason I asked what food was being fed is that I expected two things to have an effect here – dry feeding might product weaker teeth for a number of reasons (dry, kibble fed dogs are assumed to have more gum disease and nothing compares to fresh calcium) and dry feeders may be poorer versed in nutrition and therefore more likely to feed inappropriate bones (no offence dry feeders, this is only my own bias that I wanted to investigate and this goes no way to proving that, I’m just interested in putting figures to assumptions, sadly hardly any dry feeders answered with which sort of bone did the damage).

The conclusion is, while there are never any perfectly safe options, dogs absolutely needy raw meaty bones in their diet. They clean teeth and offer vital nutrition to the dog. Get ’em in there but feed right for the type.

Here’s how to safely feed dogs raw meaty bones to dogs.

Dr. Conor Brady

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.