Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thoughts on Beef Marrow Bones

Most dog owners have come across the beef marrow (aka soup) bone dilemma... to feed or not to feed?

Following the "know thy dog" mantra, there is no way I could safely answer the beef marrow bone dilemma for you, but I will share what I know and let you make the educated decision for your dog. Again, my two dogs are both under 25lbs. Also, please keep in mind I am only discussing RAW beef marrow bones.

Shown below is a great example of a decent, raw, frozen, beef marrow bone. A better example would be a slightly longer marrow bone covered in globs of tissue and meat filled with marrow:

To most exclusive raw feeders (esp. prey model raw), beef marrow bones are given three names:
1. Wreck Bones
2. Rec Bones
3. No

The first represents the major risk factor associated with this type of bone - they are weight bearing bones from the originating animal and therefore are designed to withstand a great deal of pressure and trauma. If your dog is a power chewer (goes through anything and tries to go through anything) than using this type of bone will make the risk of tooth breakage that much higher because "jaws of steel" doesn't mean "teeth of steel."

The second represents the concept of 'treat' designed for dental health (not unlike the concept of rawhides). Rec[reactional] bones are given sometimes (also depends on who you ask.. sometimes can mean nightly, weekly, monthly..) and the purpose is not to devour the entire bone, but to gnaw the tissues and meat from the outside of the bone, and to clean out the marrow from the inside of the bone. Therefore, finding the right sized raw beef marrow bone with substantial meat and tissue to gnaw off is key.
And the price! Most times, it can't be beat... I can find a pack of 6 'soup bones', raw with globs of the goodies from a local butcher for under $3. Cheaper than rawhide!

Coinciding with the 'wreck' theory, when the bones look like this:

It is safer to just throw them away.

And "No" means no means no. In a balanced raw diet, there is no need for raw beef marrow bones. Why? Because there are a plethora of SAFER non weight bearing bones available to cover the necessary 10% bone ratio (raw chicken, duck, fish, turkey, rabbit, goat, lamb bones). And while raw meaty bones are absolutely essential in a balanced raw diet, weight bearing bones of larger animals (cow, deer, lamb) are non-essential.

To answer my own question, to feed or not to feed, I do in fact choose to feed as once weekly recreational bones. The second image above is what the bones look like when I take them away. My dogs are never unattended while eating these bones and my ears are in superpower mode to hear any bone scraping or gnawing.. as that is the time to remove the bone.

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