Bone in a Raw Diet
Why Feed Bone?
Feeding your carnivore bones is necessary when providing your pet with proper nutrients. Bones provide calcium, phosphorus, minerals, and all sorts of other nutrients. Not only that but providing your carnivore with bones to chew on is very important for their health: dental, physical, and mental.
However, it is not always possible to feed your carnivore bones. Sometimes your pet may not have teeth, you may not trust them with bones for some reason, or they may have trouble breaking the bone down. So, in this article, we will cover how to feed bone as well as how to supplement it if needed.
How Much Bone Should Be Fed?
Typically, with raw feeding, we are working to create a diet that is similar to that of whole prey. This means that we want about 10-15% and even up to 20% bone in the diet. Varying the amount of bone in the diet is totally acceptable because the amount of bone from one prey animal to the next will vary somewhat.
The best way to know if your pet is receiving ample bone is to keep an eye on their stool. Hard white stools indicate that you are feeding too much bone. While softer stools may indicate that you need to increase bone content.
Bones To Keep In Mind:
There are two different types of bone that you should be aware of. First, recreational bones. These are large weight-bearing bones that your pet cannot fully consume but are super fun for your carnivore to chew on. These bones can be great for your pet’s dental health.
The second type of bone is known as an edible bone. This is a bone that your pet can fully consume, which means he will be able to get all of the nutrients from the bone. These are bones like poultry wings and necks, and some neck and rib bones from larger animals.
It is important to note that what is a recreational bone for a Yorkie or ferret may be an edible bone for a Labrador. The edibility of a bone depends on the size of the pet as well as the age, jaw strength, and how aggressive of a chewer your carnivore is. It is always best to observe your carnivore when chewing.
Before You Supplement:
If your pet is having trouble digesting bone then it might be a good idea to add a digestive enzyme or raw pancreas to your pet’s diet. These items may help your carnivore with breaking down and digesting the bone. Your pet may seem to not digest bone but if you add a digestive enzyme he may be able to digest bone.
Another thing to try is feeding ground bone to your carnivore. There are several companies that offer premade grinds that include ground bone. The smaller pieces of bone may help your pet to better absorb or reduce the need for your carnivore to chew the food (helpful for toothless pets). If this is still too hard for your pet to break down then you can also buy fine ground products or regrind the products yourself to make the pieces smaller.
Now if you are short of bones, or your pet is not tolerating bone well, there are some options for your pet to still get the calcium that it needs. The first option is bonemeal. Be sure that you source food-grade bonemeal from organic, pasture-raised animals, preferably local. This will ensure the best nutritional content. If possible choose freeze-dried vs. heat-processed bone. The heat processing can reduce the nutrient quantity as well as make the bonemeal less absorbable. While freeze-dried bone will preserve the nutrients and keep it in a more digestible form.
How much bonemeal you add will depend on how much calcium the bonemeal provides. The bonemeal should provide you with the amount of calcium it provides. For a pound of food, give about a teaspoon of bonemeal if it provides 1,200mg of calcium per teaspoon. Aim for about 1,200mg of calcium per pound of food fed.
Ground eggshells can be another option for replacing the calcium content of bone. However, eggshell is mostly calcium and doesn’t have much phosphorus. This can be a great bone replacement for animals that are suffering from kidney failure and need to reduce their overall phosphorus ratio.
You can make your own eggshell powder if you would like too. Use eggshells from organic, pasture-raised poultry. Empty the egg from the shell and rinse off any egg white, you can leave the membrane. Then simply dry the eggshells out in the 300F oven for 10-15 minutes or until brittle to the touch. After they are cool grind them up in a clean coffee or spice grinder. Use ½ tsp of eggshell per pound of food fed.
Green tripe is another option that has a perfect ratio of 1:1 calcium to phosphorus. Green tripe is also excellent for supporting your carnivores digestive tract and is filled with probiotics and enzymes. You can feed tripe with other meat or as a meal on its own. Most pets will do fine with tripe in place of bone, however, some may have digestive upset when fed a meal of only tripe.
It is always best if your pet can consume his food in the most natural form possible, namely whole prey. The next, best option is to feed raw bones, like chicken necks. The next best option is raw ground bone. The next options after that include bonemeal, ground eggshell, and green tripe. Always monitor your pet’s health and stool to know for sure if his diet is supporting his health the way it should be. And remember, never feed your carnivore cooked bones!