The 101 on Raw Meaty Bones - Nature’s Toothbrush!

Jul 04, 2024 Dan




Why are raw and meaty bones so important to a dog or a cat?

Calcium and cartilage offer great nutritional benefits. 

The pleasure center gets the attention it deserves. 

It is a workout. 

Your pet’s teeth get a brushing and flossing naturally. 

Let us sink our teeth into this in a little more detail!!!


Bone is an important ingredient in a dog’s or cat’s diet.  Why?  Calcium.

Calcium is vital to bone structure.  Our dog’s and cat’s need calcium for blood coagulation, muscle contraction, and has a significant effect on vision and heart function.  Calcium is extremely important to bone density and joint health during growth stages and in larger breeds. 

The prepared raw dinners and blends that we offer have a specific amount of ground bone or bone dust included in the mixtures.  The amount and type of bone and cartilage will vary by protein and by manufacturer.  Rest assured, your dog and cat are receiving the proper amount of calcium when feeding the foods we merchandise in our stores. 

Happy Quotient 

Canines are facultative carnivores.  Felines are obligate carnivores.  Both have jaws and teeth that are structured to rip and tear as well as crunch and smash cartilage and bone. 

Have a look at the dental structure of a dog.  The front teeth (Incisors and canines) are used to rip and tear.  The back teeth (molars) are used to crunch and smash to get the food down to size so it can be consumed.  One thing to note that is not apparent from the diagram is the jaw.  The jaw is structured to move up and down only.  There is no sideways movement to the jaw like an omnivore or herbivore.  The sideways structure is used to grind and mulch down plant matter.  No such availability for a carnivore. 

When they can use their jaws and teeth like they are intended to, they are in their happy place.  They love it.  They are engaged.  Watch a dog go hard on a beef neck or a cat crunch away on a chicken neck.  You will see how focused they are and, in turn, how content they become.  Feeding a good raw meaty bone makes our pets happy. 

Physical Workout 

Pay close attention to what is happening when our pet is ripping, tearing, and crunching away on a good bone.  The jaw muscles are working hard.  This turns into a series of muscle workouts from the neck, through the shoulder, down the legs and into the paws.  Everything is working hard so they can get at all the good stuff.  A great benefit to this workout is that it has the potential to tire them.  Especially for puppies and kittens.  They are always looking to chew and go at something.  So, instead of them eating a shoe or the corner of a sofa, engage them with an appropriate raw meaty bone (or healthy single ingredient chew).  It will fulfill their need to crunch and chew AND tire them out. 

Dental Health 

A huge benefit to feeding a dog or cat a real food diet is dental health.  The ingredients in well-prepared and balanced raw diets DO NOT promote significant staining and tartar build-up.  Raw bones that they can crunch through can really help to keep teeth pearly white and free of any nasty build-ups over time.  This keeps the dental bills down, and most importantly, supports a healthy immune system (healthy teeth, healthy body).  The crunching of soft bone and hard cartilage scrapes along the back teeth.  This scraping action is the best teeth cleaning you can give to your pet.  Once or twice a week is all that is needed. 

Sometimes we try to do everything we can to keep our pets’ teeth free of stain and calc build-up.  Some dogs and cats, like humans, are just prone to excessive staining and tartar.  You might want to consider a Happy Hounds Teeth Cleaning Clinic.  Happy Hounds Teeth Cleaning offers safe and gentle cosmetic teeth cleaning for your pet without the use of sedation or drugs.  Both Burlington and Oakville store host clinics monthly.  If you would like to learn more about this service, you can check it out HERE


We like to classify raw bones into two groups. 

Meal Replacement Bones.  These are chunky meaty bones that can be used in place of the pre-mixed grinds that we feed.  Non-weight bearing bones like turkey necks, duck necks, boar necks, chicken feet, duck feet are great examples.  They can be fed frozen (sometimes a bit more of a challenge to crunch and a better workout) or thawed out. 

You can have a look at the selection of Meal Replacement Bones HERE

Recreational Bones.  These types of bones are meant to provide your pet a great chewing and crunching activity but do lack the muscle meat and fat that is needed to be considered meal replacement.  These bones are relatively high in bone/cartilage content versus the meal replacement bone.  Most pet owners are familiar with the marrow bone and is one of the more popular recreational bones.  Other great recreational chews are knuckle bones (hip and knee joints), patella (kneecaps), hocks(feet) and rib bones. 

Check out our selection of Recreational Bones HERE

Special Note on Marrow Bones 

Beef marrow bones are the section of a cow’s leg, or femur.  These are considered weight-bearing bones and are denser and harder than your pet’s teeth.  Good raw marrow bones can have lots of muscle meat, fat, and sinewy bits that your pet will love stripping off.  The marrow inside the bone is also something they will love to get at.  However, we highly recommend that allowing your pet to go hard on the bone is very dangerous due to the fact that aggressive crunchers and chewers can potentially wear away tooth enamel AND chip or crack a tooth.  Now we are into some significant vet bills.  Bottom line is marrow bones are ok if you do not let your pet go hard on the bone! 



Chicken Feet                        Duck Feet                  Cornish Hen Feet

Whole Sardines                   Chicken Necks


All raw meaty bones for cats and small breed dogs +

Duck Necks                           Smaller Turkey Necks        Whole Herring

Pork Tails                               Medium Beef Necks          Chicken Heads

Duck Heads 


All raw meaty bones for cats and small breed and medium breeds +

Large Turkey Necks            Whole Herring                    Chicken Frames

Boar Neck Bones                Large Beef Necks                Kangaroo Tails

How often should I give my dog or cat a bone? 

If you are feeding a balanced raw diet, then including meal replacement bones once or twice a week is appropriate.  Most raw meaty bones are relatively high in bone content.  We want to make sure we do not over do it.  This will depend on the type of meal replacement bone you are feeding, the size of your dog and how well your dog processes(digests) cartilage and bone.   

What about cooked bones? 

NEVER offer cooked bones.  Cooked bones can splinter, shard and crack.  This can create some serious issues in the stomach and/or lower digestive tract.  When bone is cooked, it changes and can no longer be broken down by the stomach acids and can accumulate creating some serious blockages and potentially serious health issues.  

Raw bone and cartilage are highly bioavailable.  Most healthy dogs and cats can break down and digest raw bone.  We were always told to never feed chicken bones to dogs and cats.  Raw chicken bone and most other non-weight bearing animal bone is relatively safe. Never cooked bone. 

Final Note

It is important to exercise some common sense when introducing something new to our pets to chew on and ingest.  


If your pet is an aggressive chewer or voracious swallower, you might want to exercise some caution with the size of bone you give.  Most cats and dogs know to crunch to get to size.  Some, not so much.  Introducing new bones (or chew treats) for the first time should be done under supervision to give one a level of comfort that our dog/cat can handle the chew and does so without a risk of ingesting something too big. 

Feed your dog and cat a bone. Make them happy, keep them healthy, give them a workout, and help maintain those pearly whites.