Feeding your Dog Raw Poultry Necks: Tasty Treat or Health Hazard?
It might not seem appetising to us, but feeding dogs raw meat and bone is growing in popularity with owners.
This is mostly thanks to the health benefits involved, but also because of increasing distrust of commercial pre packed dog food. But along with this burst of popularity also comes the issue of whether feeding your dog raw meat with bones really is safe!
One of the most debated of these bones is raw poultry necks, especially from turkeys. Are they of great benefit to your dog’s health and worth adding to its diet, or are they a danger to their safety and to be avoided at all costs? Let’s look at the facts!
Why Go Raw
Most manufactured dog food contains a long list of additives, preservatives and grain products. Just as we have become more aware and concerned about these in our own diet, dog owners have taken notice for the sake of their dog’s health.
It is actually not biologically natural for dogs to eat food that's been reduced from its whole, unaltered state into prepared, packaged food. So you could argue that raw meat really is a dog’s natural food source.
Health Benefits of Poultry Necks:
- They are rich in Omega 3 which is great for skin, joints and cellular health
- Have high levels of Iron which is vital for the transport of oxygen around the body
- Contain large amounts of selenium, which is hard to obtain and can help reduce the chances of several forms of cancer
- The neck bone itself has plenty of calcium, and has no marrow, which means it is nice and low in fat
- Far less calories than in commercial dog food, which reduces the chances of bone disease in later life.
Plus chewing on the bones can be great for keeping your dog’s teeth healthy. After only a very short time on a raw diet, your dog may have much-improved breath, little or no tartar and much cleaner teeth. All this without having to visit the veterinary dentist or brushing their teeth.
A HUGE health bonus of raw meat - The chance of getting Gingivitis and periodontal disease in the teeth, which can lead to the spread of bacteria in your dog, is greatly reduced by feeding your dogs bones.
HOWEVER this doesn’t mean that they should be the only thing your dog is fed, or even the only source of meat. While poultry bones have some meat on them, they do not have enough to sustain a dog!
Also if neck bone is the only thing they are regularly fed, then the bone content in the diet will be too high, resulting in your dog suffering from poor digestion. Your dog would be missing out on the protein it needs and other vitamins and minerals that they would get from a balanced diet. At most, neck bones should make up no more than half of a dog’s main meal food, and be balanced out with other meats and vegetables.
BUT, as with all bones, there is risk involved with feeding these to your dog, and it must be done carefully. Not everyone would recommended poultry bones as there is always a small chance of bones splintering.
First and foremost! Rule number 1! The Prime Directive! Never ever feed your dogs cooked bone. Cooking or boiling makes the bone become hard and brittle, and more likely to splinter than raw bone.
This doesn’t mean that all raw meat bones are safe. It is usually advisable when feeding your dog any bones to supervise them until they are finished to make certain they are not swallowing large chunks of bone.
Because of the size and shape of poultry necks you should be very aware of a few facts before feeding them to your dog. While they are quite long bones, they are also slim, which can be an issue for larger breeds, with wider throats.
There is an increased chance that if not chewed properly the dog could swallow them whole and get the neck bone trapped down the throat! This is an experience I am sure none of us want to see happen.
One method to ensure that this didn't happen would be to hold onto one end of the neck while your dog chewed on it. However this might not be appropriate for some dogs as they may not be delighted at the sight of you holding onto their food as they eat it!
Know Your Dog
We already know that there are strong health benefits, but the worry of bones doing your dog a serious injury may still make you reluctant to indulge them. It isn’t even as simple as feeding a small dog small bones, or a large dog large bones.
Personality is more important than size. A 50 kg Rottweiler might daintily chew and nibble the neck safely, while a tiny Chihuahua might greedily try to swallow it whole.
Learn what type of eater your dog is. If you believe they are the kind of dog to carefully chew and swallow bone in small pieces then poultry necks may be ideal for them.
If your dog is more of a gobbler, it probably isn’t worth the risk. A more indelicate dog may also cause damage to their teeth from chomping too hard on bones. However some people believe the strong benefits to dental hygiene outweigh the smaller risk of cracking or breaking a tooth.
You might have considered cutting up the neck into smaller pieces to make it safer, but this may actually do more harm than good. Unless you are extremely careful, you run the risk of creating sharp edges on the cuts you make, which may in turn end up cutting your dog.
One more thing you should be aware of!
If your dog has not had raw meats in the past, please make sure to slowly introduce it into their diet. Dogs have surprisingly delicate stomachs, and the sudden introduction of a lot of raw meat can cause them to have stomach issues.
In the end it is up to your best judgement to decide if raw poultry necks would be good for your dog. The health benefits are numerous. They could make up the heart of your dog’s meal intake, alongside other meats and vegetables, or just be reserved as a tasty snack.
But always think safety first! If your dog is a good chewer, rather than a gobbler, and will crunch the bone properly and not swallow very large pieces, then they should be fine with poultry necks and really enjoy eating them.