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Safe Raw Bone Feeding for Dogs and Cats: 8 Essential Rules for Pet Parents

Updated: May 23

Frozen raw bones available from red dog blue kat for dogs and cats
RDBK Pork Femurs

When it comes to nourishing your pets with a raw diet, bones play a crucial role. They serve as nature's toothbrush, promoting excellent dental health while delivering essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Additionally, chewing on bones provides jaw exercise and valuable mental stimulation for your furry foodies.

Download Our Vet-Approved Bone Safety Guide for Pets

Feeding bones, while beneficial, can pose risks to any pet, especially those with dental or gastrointestinal issues or those on low-fat diets. These risks may include tooth fractures, gastrointestinal upsets, and even choking hazards. Click below to download our vet-approved safe bone feeding guide for dogs and cats to learn more:

DIGITAL - RDBK Bone Safety Guide (V. Sept 2023)
Download PDF • 551KB
Guidelines for feeding raw bones to pets safely
Download now!

8 Ways to Safely Feed Raw Bones to Pets

To ensure a lifetime of happy and safe raw bone chewing, remember to always read the feeding guidelines and safety information provided on the packaging of all pet food products. 1. Choose the Correct Bone


1. Choose the Correct Bone

Selecting the correct bone for your pet is crucial because it ensures their safety and enjoyment. Bones that are appropriately sized for your pet and match their chewing style reduce the risks of potential choking hazards, dental issues, stomach upset or discomfort during consumption:

  • Know your pet’s history and chew style before offering bones. Take the RDBK bone quiz for a list of recommended bone options based on your pet’s size and chew style.

  • Always choose a bone larger than your pet’s mouth capacity.

  • If you are uncertain if raw bones are right for your pet, please reach out to our education team, a holistic nutritionist or a raw-supportive veterinarian.

2. Know the difference between Consumable and Recreational Bones

Bones can be categorized into two types: consumable bones and non-consumable bones. Consumable raw bones can be safely eaten and digested as part of a meal, while non-consumable raw bones are better suited for recreational chewing.

Consumable Bones:

  • Consumable raw bones can be fed as a meal replacement, including meat, connective tissues, joint cartilage, fat, bone and sometimes a small amount of marrow.

  • These bones include chicken and turkey necks, beef and bison knuckles, bison leg joints, kangaroo tails, whole sardines and salmon heads.

Recreational Bones:

  • Recreational raw bones provide minimal nutritional value to your pet's diet. However, the advantages of offering your pet these marrow bones as a natural chew are numerous.

  • These bones include beef, bison, pork and lamb femurs, beef hocks and shanks.

  • Recreational bones include variable amounts of meat, connective tissue, and generous amounts of marrow (fat) which may be partially consumed.

  • Do not give recreational bones to aggressive chewers or gulpers.

If you'd like to explore the various types of RDBK raw bones available for cats, please click here to learn more. For information about our raw bones for dogs, click here.

3. Never Cook Raw Bones

When it comes to bones, raw is the way to go. Cooking alters their chemical composition, making them brittle, sharp, and difficult to digest. Feeding cooked bones can result in issues such as choking, vomiting, diarrhea, or digestive complications. Raw bones are naturally enriched with essential minerals and nutrients, making them the ideal choice for your pets. Remember, this rule also applies to raw meals containing ground bone – never cook them.

4. Always Thaw Raw Bones

Feeding your pet frozen bones can pose certain risks, including an increased likelihood of choking, gastrointestinal upset, and tooth fractures. This precaution applies to all bones except Whole Sardines and Salmon Heads. Following the below thawing practices will minimize potential risks and enhance the safety of feeding raw bones to your furry companion. :

  1. Complete Thawing: Thaw bones completely in the fridge before serving, which typically takes about 6-12 hours. This rule applies to most bone types. However, Whole Sardines and Salmon Heads can be fed partially frozen to more experienced chewers, making for an enjoyable summer treat.

  2. Keep Frozen Until Ready: Keeping bones frozen until you're ready to serve them to your pet is important. This helps maintain their freshness and ensures that they are at the ideal temperature for consumption.

5. Transition Pets Slowly

For pets new to a raw diet, it's advisable to start with ground raw bone meals for a period of 14-30 days before introducing whole raw bones. Transitioning to a raw diet can bring about changes in the digestive tract, including shifts in gut microbiome and pH levels. Allowing these adjustments to occur before introducing raw bones can make the transition smoother for your dog or cat.

For additional tips and tricks on correctly transitioning your pet to a raw food diet, check out our article How To Transition Your Dog Or Cat To A Raw Food Diet: 10 Easy Steps. Simply click here to dive into the details.

6. Teach Pets How to Chew

Chewing raw bones is a learned behaviour and may initially feel strange to a pet not used to it, so puppies, kittens, and adult dogs new to raw diets may need some guidance. Begin by holding one end of the bone while offering the other to your pet. Wearing gloves can help keep your hands clean during this process. Be patient and supportive, and remember to praise your pet's efforts!

  • The safest way for your pet to chew a raw bone engages the entire mouth, making use of the large pre-molar and molar teeth situated at the rear of the mouth. Encourage them to alternate chewing sides by gently moving the bone from side to side within their mouth.

7. Always Supervise Your Pet

To give raw bones safely to your pet, it's essential to remain close by and observe their enjoyment. This vigilance is particularly vital for pets who are new to bone chewing. If any concerns arise during this time, be sure to keep a watchful eye on your pet and be prepared to remove the bone promptly.

  • Avoid serving bones on an empty stomach when your pet is hungry, as this may increase the risk of them gulping the bone.

  • For recreational bones, do not allow your pet to chew the bone down to pieces that can be swallowed.

  • Specifically for Kangaroo tails and recreational bones, it's essential to remove and discard them if one or more of the following conditions apply:

    • The majority of the meat, connective tissue, and marrow have been consumed.

    • Your pet reaches the brittle part of the bone.

    • If you observe cracks or splinters in the bone.

  • After handling bones, remember to wash your hands and all surfaces with warm, soapy water for proper hygiene.

8. Know Pet First Aid

In case of an emergency, like with any items we provide our pets, such as toys or treats, knowing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver is crucial. Watch as RDBK's Vet Nutrition Advisor, Dr. Jules Mantler, guides us through the step-by-step process of effectively performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking dog or cat. This skill can be a lifesaver in emergency situations.


We'd love to see your pets enjoying their raw bones! Share pictures of your happy pets chewing on their bones and use the hashtag #rdbkfoodieclub while tagging us @reddogbluekat. When you're done, send us a message to get a 20% discount on your next purchase. Thank you for being part of the Red Dog Blue Kat community!

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