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Are marrow bones good for dogs teeth

Are marrow bones good for dog’s teeth?

15 Sep, 2016

Marrow bones are the large bones from the fore or hind limbs of cattle. At butchers and supermarkets, they are often marketed as “dog bones”. They typically have very little meat or connective tissue on them and sometimes they are cut lengthways so the marrow is easily accessible.

Raw bones are widely recognised as being beneficial in preventing dental disease in dogs. (Please see blog for further details.)

The action of chewing coarse textured food such as bones helps prevent dental disease in a number of ways.

Prevents plague build up

As the dog rips and tears meat from the bone and chews the bone, the tooth surface is abraded. This action prevents calculus forming and providing a surface on which more plague can accumulate.

Produces saliva

Chewing also produces saliva which has anti-bacterial properties to protect the dog from dental disease.

Maintains healthy jaw and gums

Finally, chewing exercises the musculoskeletal structure of jaw and maintains the health of the periodontal ligament and surrounding gum structure.

(Bjone et al 2005, Fagan 1980, Haberstroh et al 1984, Watson 1994)

Are marrow bones the best bones to keep dog’s teeth clean?

Marrow bones are generally very hard bones that are difficult for most dogs to break. So for dogs that are unable to break them, marrow bones would be somewhat beneficial for tooth cleaning. Dogs can scrape their teeth against the bone’s surface which could provide the physical abrasion necessary to dislodge plague.

The downside of marrow bones however is that due to their toughness, dogs are not able to actually chew any of the bone (except perhaps the softer end points).

Further, for large breed dogs that are able to break marrow bone, the toughness of the bone fragments may cause gastrointestinal problems. (Billinghurst 1993)

What are the best bones for cleaning dog’s teeth?

I personally don’t give my dogs marrow bones because they are too hard – so the dogs can’t eat the bone. Marrow bones also don’t have enough meat and connective tissue to get a good balance of nutrients (but that is a subject for another blog!).

Here are my favourite bones for my dogs.

1. Chicken necks – They are convenient, readily available and inexpensive. Chicken necks provide a daily teeth clean and are a good source of nutrients. Even small breed dogs and puppies can manage chicken necks.

2. Chicken wings – They are readily available and inexpensive. Like necks, wings keep the teeth clean and are a good source of nutrients.

3. Beef brisket bones – These bones are also readily available and offer the dogs a little more of a challenge and physical work out. They also clean the teeth and provide nutrients.

4. Roo tail – These bones may not be quite so available, but seek them out. They are nutritious, clean the teeth and are a great doggy treat.

5. Lamp flaps – These bones are available at butchers. For some dogs they may be a bit too fatty and require the fat to be trimmed. For my dogs, I leave them in large pieces so they offer a bit of a challenge to eat.

Remember to feed bones raw only. Cooked bones are hard and brittle and therefore more likely to splinter and get caught in the dog’s throat or intestines.

For more information about incorporating bones into your dogs’ diet please contact me . Full Stride works with you and your dog to formulate a balanced nutritious canine diet that meets your dog’s requirements and fits with your lifestyle.

Until next time, enjoy your dogs.


Billinghurst, I 1993, Give your dog a bone:the practical common sense way to feed dogs for a long and healthy life, Warrigal Publishing, Bathurst NSW.

Bjone, S, Brown, W, Billingham, J, Harris, A, & McGenity,P 2005 “Influence of chewing on dental health in dogs” Proceedings of the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference – Gold Coast, Australia (16 -19 May 2005)

Fagan, D, 1980 “Diet consistency and periodontal disease in exotic carnivores”, Meeting of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, October 18, 1980

Haberstroh, L. I., Ullrey, D. E., Sikarski, J. G., Richter, N. A., Colmery, B. H., & Myers, T. D. 1984. Diet and oral health in captive Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica). The Journal of Zoo Animal Medicine, 15(4), 142-146.

Watson, A.D.J 1994 “Diet and periodontal disease in dogs and cats” Australian Veterinary Journal, Vol 71, No 10, October 1994