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So, I've noticed some tartar build-up on Rascal's teeth lately, and I was thinking about swapping out his usual rawhides/chew sticks for some raw meaty bones to help clean his teeth.

I've browsed through the forums, but a lot of the recommendations tend to be as a part of a full raw diet, rather than specifically dental/recreational so I wanted some additional info. (But if I totally missed an ultra important post on this same subject, I'm sorry for making a new thread)

There were several mentions of chicken wings as a good size for small dogs (Rascal is only about 10lbs) but I'm still a bit concerned about him swallowing them whole, and I'm not sure those are large enough to really chew on. Obviously I'm going to supervise him the entire time, but I'm still concerned. He eats like a boa constrictor sometimes.

There were several 12 packs of chicken legs at the store for $2 or so which might work as a starting point, but I've read that weight bearing bones are a no no. Or is that only referring to larger animals?

Any other suggestions of specific bones I should look for that will be appropriate for a dog his size while keeping his teeth clean? There are plenty of butchers/farmers/feed stores around here, so I should have a lot of options.
 

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I don't have a lot of experience with a dog this small. My dog was that big when he was maybe 10 weeks and now he is 75 pounds and growing. I just want to put my advice in context.

For dental health, you could feed supplemental raw meaty bones. This would be raw meat with enzymes and digestible bone that he can chew on, break and swallow. What I would try is some chicken necks, chicken wings, or chicken ribs. Cornish game hens would also have small bones throughout.

I believe the idea behind avoiding "weight bearing" bones applies to bones you expect the dog to break and consume. The two problems are size and hardness or stiffness. In the case of a aged animal, a weight bearing bone might have grown rigid and hard over a long time. In the case of chickens raised commercially for slaughter, this doesn't apply because the full grown chickens are slaughtered at only several months age. Those bones, even the large ones, are quite soft. Nevertheless, if you want to introduce digestible bones to a 10 pound dog, I would start with something smaller than the drumstick or thigh which have some fairly large joint knobs.

You could also feed recreational bones for gnawing on without expecting the dog to break or digest the bone. In that case, look for "soup bones" which are usually a large bone like a cow femur that has been cut with a bandsaw by the butcher. These can be enormous for a 10 pound dog but if he likes it you know he's not going to choke on it. I would also look for "marrow bones." These are similarly large bones that have been sliced like little steaks. They're usually about an inch or inch and a half thick and have thin layer of meat and connective tissue on the outside. Inside is the marrow. They're usually 2-3 inches diameter and would be perfect for any dog to gnaw on. Gnawing scrapes their teeth and the enzymes on the meat and bone when it's fresh can help too. My dog knocks the marrow out and eats it, then cleans the bone until it's polished white.

Another cut I would love to feed my dog is oxtail. I don't because for whatever reason it's nearly $6 a pound at my butcher. My wife makes a soup with it but at best the dog gets to smell it. It could be great for a small dog. The smaller vertabrae could be swallowed, the larger could be gnawed on.
 

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For dental health I would choose less meaty options. Oxtail is good for dogs that size. So are pork neck bones, beef rib bones, and turkey necks. Also like you mention, Bart, the sliced bones for soup may be a good option for a dog that size.

Be aware that marrow is an EXTREMELY rich food. Be careful with bones with large marrow cavities with small dogs. Diarrhea or Pancreatitis can result from consumption of a large amount of fat, especially if the dog is not used to it.

I would also recommend you get a good digestive support supplement, and start your dog on this several days before you plan to offer the raw bones. These supplements increase and support the natural flora of the digestive system in dogs. Most dogs benefit from them, with less gas, and better utilization of the food they consume. I happen to use one made by Nature's Farmacy, but there are several good ones out there made by different companies. This will ensure your dog does not experience any digestive upset from the fresh meat.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the tips! I'll check to see what oxtail goes for (and some of the other options), and look into some digestive suplements.
 
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