When it comes to providing raw bones for dogs, it's so important to prioritise your pet's safety and choose the right types of bones to avoid potential health issues.

We asked Dr Nick Thompson, our consultant vet, for his tips on which bones are suitable for which dogs.

Disclaimer: Never feed you dog cooked bones. They become brittle and can splinter easily, posing a significant risk of causing internal injuries or choking hazards.

Always supervise, your dog while they chew on bones to prevent any accidents.


What are the best raw bones for dogs?

Dogs love raw bones. They've been eating them for millions of years. Yet there is anxiety among many owners new to raw feeding regarding how to start and progress with raw feeding. I will explain a four-stage process of taking any raw-fed dog or pup onto raw bones for life. 

If you're not feeding raw or fresh food, I would suggest feeding raw bones is not ideal for your dog. 

Before we start on the four levels, let's list a few universal truths on bone feeding to raw dogs:  

  1. You can feed pups on raw meaty bones from about three weeks of age. 
  2. You can start most dogs on raw food, whatever age. Same, once you've started, for bones. 
  3. Only introduce bones after your dog has been on raw for about four weeks or so (to allow the gut and biome to get used to real raw food). 
  4. Do NOT start with marrow bones. Most people do, but this is a mistake. 
  5. Never feed cooked, smoked or any other bone exposed to heat or processing. 
  6. You can get bones from most butchers, farmer's markets, or supermarkets.
  7. Meaty bones are superior. Chicken wings, duck necks, etc., are covered in meat and skin. Try to get bones where the meat/skin/gristle has not been removed. 
  8. Large dogs can safely chew large and small bones. Small dogs can take smaller and medium bones. Medium-sized dogs (e.g. Springers or Staffies) do best on larger bones. 
  9. Never chop bones, wings, necks or chews, even for pups. Bigger, the better. 
  10. Once larger bones get small enough to be swallowed whole, discard and give another larger bone/chew. 
  11. Antlers can be used but are very hard and should be left only for stage 4 dogs. 
  12. Each stage must be followed for one to six months before graduating to the next level, depending on the dog/dental health.
  13. Make all transitions gradual over a few weeks. 
  14. If your dog runs off and buries bones, give more. They are a high-value commodity! Once they realise bones are part of their life, they usually reduce burying behaviour.

Follow the four stages below with all dogs.

Best raw bones for puppies

Stage 1 (Kindergarten Bones), e.g. soft chicken/turkey carcases, dried chews (unprocessed). 

Key Points: 

  • All dogs, from three weeks to 16 years, start here. 
  • Start after at least four weeks on raw/fresh food unless starting three-week-old puppies where mum is already eating raw food.
  • Stick with this stage until you and your dog are very comfortable with the stage. 

Best raw bones for small dogs

Stage 2 (Primary School Bones), e.g. chicken wings, duck necks, turkey necks. 

Key Points: 

  • Congratulations. Doggo's done well with soft material and is now ready for the second stage - real bones. 
  • Stick with this stage for one to six months. 
  • You can feed from the previous stage, too. 
  • Do not chop wings/necks. Dogs have teeth! 

Can dogs eat raw beef bones?

Stage 3 (Secondary School Bones), e.g. beef ribs/brisket/vertebrae/neck; lamb ribs/neck etc. Knucklebones, trotters. Anything but long leg bones of cattle/sheep. 

Key Points: 

  • Good. Your dog knows about real bones; we're just going to increase the size of the bones. 
  • Stick with this stage for one to six months. 
  • You can feed from the previous stages, too. 
  • Do not chop ribs into short pieces.

Best raw bones for dog's teeth 

Stage 4 (Bones for Raw Food and Bone Veterans), e.g. Large leg bones, including marrow bones. 

Key Points: 

  • We can graduate to any bone, including rigid, brittle, strong leg bones. 
  • Be careful with sawn leg bones - the sharp edge can offer an edge where normal chewing pressure can generate very high penetrating and shearing forces that can split or fracture teeth. There are no saws in nature. 
  • You can feed from the previous stage, too. 

Bone broths are incredibly useful for transitioning animals onto raw food. They are handy to promote drinking in the thirstless, urolith-prone, sick animal or those taking drugs that may damage the lining of the bladder, e.g. cyclophosphamide.

Choose bones out with the dog's sensitivities (e.g. don't give chicken broth to a dog with chicken sensitivities!), and be sure to boil for at least four to forty-eight hours. Herbs can be added at the end of the process but are not essential. Salt and pepper and other seasonings should be avoided. 

Slab fractures, which can happen when chewing bones (and sticks/chews or rawhide), are usually repairable/resolvable. Periodontitis (inflammation around the tooth/gum common in non-bone chewing dogs) is less so. 

Are raw bones dangerous for dogs?

Another argument suggests bones are dangerous because they wear down teeth. Again, this is a ridiculous argument because sticks, chews and even tennis balls (especially with sand on) do the same thing. Nobody wants to ban them. 



Feeding bones is easy, affordable, and healthful, and dogs love it. Read and digest this article, follow the four stages and off you go. Enjoy a new world of healthy dogs with healthy teeth and calmer minds. 


Additional resources

Where to buy raw meaty bones for dogs

You can buy raw meaty bones for dogs from various sources, including:

  1. Local Butchers: Your local butcher can provide you with options like chicken necks, chicken wings, beef ribs, and more. Just ask for raw, meaty bones suitable for dogs, and they should be able to help.

  2. Pet Specialty Stores: Some pet specialty stores or pet supply shops offer raw food options, including raw meaty bones.

  3. Raw Pet Food Retailers: Look for stores that specifically specialise in raw pet food, as they often carry a wide selection of raw meaty bones and other raw food products for dogs as well.

  4. Online Retailers: There are numerous online retailers that sell raw meaty bones for dogs. These offer a range of options with the convenience of home delivery: Benyfit Natural, The Farmer's Dog, Nutriment, Paleo Ridge and Cotswold Raw.

Best raw bones for dogs from butcher 

Choose bones that are appropriate for your dog's size. Small dogs should have smaller bones that they can manage like:

  1. Raw Chicken Necks: Chicken necks are small and soft enough for most small dogs to chew safely. They also contain some meat and connective tissue, which adds nutritional value to your dog's diet.

  2. Raw Chicken Wings: Chicken wings can be an excellent option for small dogs. They are relatively soft and provide a natural way for dogs to exercise their jaws and clean their teeth.

  3. Raw Turkey Necks: Similar to chicken necks, turkey necks are appropriate for small dogs due to their size and texture. They offer a good balance of meat and bone.

  4. Raw Lamb Ribs: Lamb ribs can be a suitable option for small dogs. They are smaller than beef ribs and provide a good chewing experience for your dog.

  5. Raw Duck Necks: Duck necks are another option for small dogs. They are slightly larger than chicken necks but still appropriate for most small breeds.

  6. Quail or Pheasant Bones: If you can find them, quail or pheasant bones can be an excellent option for small dogs. These bones are small and delicate, making them easier for small dogs to handle.


Interested to learn more from Dr Nick?

Ask a Vet: What Age Can I Feed My Puppy Raw Food? 

Ask a Vet: Natural Ways to Calm Pets with Anxiety

Ask a Vet: Is Wormwood Safe for Pets?

For more advice and the latest pet news, check out our journal, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

July 19, 2023 — Clementina Davies