Ah, dog chews. Dogs love them, and some serve all kinds of essential purposes — they promote gum health, provide mental stimulation, and supply minerals and proteins for skin elasticity and joint health!
We also know that bones aren’t the best choice of chews because of their health risks, whether cooked or raw. Instead, here’s a natural alternative — cooked soft bones. These are the hyaline cartilage at the ends of the ribs of a pig and easily found in supermarkets, which makes them readily available for all dog owners!
Hyaline cartilage is rich in collagen, which is a protein that gives cartilage its strength, flexibility, and wearability. The other constituents that make up a soft bone are sugars, minerals, and water. In a nutshell, it is a rich source of proteins, minerals, and collagen.
As with all raw foods, raw cartilage may risk contamination. Cooking kills the harmful bacteria that may have contaminated the raw cartilage, such as enterococcus, salmonella, and listeria. These can all lead to deadly health complications in your dog, so never feed your dog raw soft bones!
Besides making it safer for consumption, cooking also increases the digestibility of the cartilage, which makes it easier for your dog to absorb the nutrients locked in it. Collagen is poorly absorbed through the small intestines, so if you wish, you may cook it with slow or high pressure to convert it into gelatin, which is broken down easily by intestinal digestive enzymes and readily absorbed by the intestines.
This is very important for puppies and dogs with chewing difficulties (perhaps due to severe gum or dental disease) because feeding soft bone pieces to young puppies may injure delicate gums and cause choking, vomiting, or get lodged in the intestines if swallowed whole. On the other hand, dogs with severe gum or dental disease will find it difficult and painful when dealing with the firmness of soft bone.
As mentioned earlier, par-boiling or cooking the soft bone ensures the killing of bacteria present, and cooking the cartilage will increase the availability of its nutrients. In addition to that, only give soft bone as a chew if your dog is a delicate chewer! Dogs that tend to swallow and gobble their food rather than chew may choke or experience intestinal obstruction if given a large piece entirely.
Commonly-sold dog chews that are made from dried animal parts include pig’s ears, bully sticks, and rawhide. Here’s a quick low-down on why they may not be the best choice for your pooch, and why you might want to consider switching to cooked soft bones if it’s suitable for your pet:
This article was written in consultation with Dr Lennie from The Animal Clinic.
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