Marrow bones (also called recreational bones) are generally beef femur or hip bones filled with marrow, that have been machine cut into sections. They’re sold in the meat section of grocery stores, particularly for soups, stocks and broths.
These bones are also sold (cooked) as dog bones. As recreational bones, they are not able to be chewed up and swallowed, only gnawed on.
Feeding your dog marrow bones from the grocery store is very tempting. Especially because they’re sold for only $1-$2 per pound, raw. Not only that, they also last forever. If you’ve ever fed marrow bones, you know they get scattered around the house like Legos.
Yet, therein lies the problem!
Your dogs’ teeth are designed to rip, tear and break up food. Even large bones like ribs, skulls, neck bones, etc. But they do have their limitations.
Some of you may be thinking “But I have _______(rottweilers, mastiffs, cane corsos, wolf hybrids). My dogs have stronger jaws, bigger heads, and greater bite forces. My dogs can handle anything!”
Believe it or not, that’s a common belief among big dog owners – that their dogs are superior when it comes to, well, doing dog things.
Sure, a German shepherd is going to have stronger (denser) teeth than a Yorkie, but no dog’s teeth are invisible.
The International Wolf Center contends that wolves are capable of applying 398 pounds of pressure per square inch, while domestic dogs generate about 320 pounds per square inch. In a 2009 study, lead researcher Jennifer Ellis conducted tests and found that mastiffs could generate over 550 pounds per square inch.
International Wolf Center: http://www.wolf.org/wolf-info/basic-wolf-info/wolf-faqs/#p
However, even with these bite forces, the teeth can’t hold up against anything and everything. Think about what wolves leave behind once they have their fill of a kill. They leave the weight bearing bones, and bones that take more effort to break up than they’re worth nutritionally.
These include the skull of larger animals, thoracic vertebrae, scapula, humerus, radius and ulna, metacarpus, fetlock, lumbar vertebrae, sacral vertebrae, ilium, ischium, femur, tibia and fibula, metatarsus, pastern and coffin bones. Sometimes you’ll also see the cervical and coccygeal vertebrae left behind.
Again, aside from avoiding these bones for the health of their teeth, wolves don’t exhaust themselves over bones that don’t have high nutritional values. After organs and meat, the rib bones are what they’ll eat for bone content.
So, what can you do with inexpensive marrow bones? Make bone broth!
Bone broth is a great source of valuable amino acids, collagen, gelatin and trace minerals. By making bone broth, you’re extracting all of the bones’ nutritional properties and making them easily accessible/digestible.
What exactly does bone broth do for your dog?
1. Bone Broth Protects Joints
Bone broth is one of the best sources of natural collagen.
As your dog ages, cartilage diminishes as it gets attacked by antibodies. As bone broth simmers, collagen from the animal parts leaches into the broth and becomes readily absorbable to help restore cartilage.
2. Bone Broth Is Good for the Gut
Studies show that gelatin is beneficial for restoring the gut lining and fighting food sensitivities.
Because the amino acids in collagen build up tissue that lines the colon and entire GI tract, supplementing with gelatin rich bone broth can support healthy digestive function.
3. Bone Broth Supports Immune System Function
Collagen/gelatin and the amino acids proline, glutamine and arginine help seal these openings in the gut lining and support gut integrity.
Bone broth can even promote healthy sleep, boost energy and support a healthy mood.
4. Bone Broth Boosts Detoxification
Bone broth contains potassium and glycine, which support both cellular and liver detoxification.
Glutathione helps with elimination of fat-soluble compounds, especially heavy metals like mercury and lead. It also helps with the absorption of various nutrients, the use of antioxidants and with liver-cleansing functions.
Here are six of the key nutritional compounds found in bone broth that help provide the above benefits.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAG): Glycosaminoglycans support collagen and elastin that take up the spaces between bones and various fibers, and also support digestive health.
Glucosamine: There are two main types of naturally occurring glucosamine (hydrochloride and sulfate). Both help keep up the integrity of cartilage.
Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic acid contributes to cell proliferation, differentiation and mitigation, helping cells perform various functions throughout the body.
Chondroitin Sulfate: Supplementing with chondroitin supports healthy inflammation response as well as cardiovascular health, bone health, skin health and healthy cholesterol levels.
Minerals and Electrolytes: Electrolytes and minerals found within bone broth include calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, which are important for supporting healthy circulation, bone density, nerve signaling functions, heart health and digestive health.
Collagen: Collagen is the main structural protein found within the body that helps form connective tissue and seals the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
Bone Broth Benefits: Healing Amino Acids
Gelatin in bone broths contains “conditional” amino acids arginine, glycine, glutamine and proline. These amino acids also contribute to stock’s healing properties.
• Helps regenerate damaged liver cells
• Necessary for immune system function and wound healing
• Needed for the production and release of growth hormone
• Improves metabolism and muscle building
• Metabolic fuel for cells in small intestine
• Protects gut lining
• Helps detoxify the body of chemicals and acts as antioxidant
• Is a neurotransmitter that improves sleep and improves memory and performance
• Prevents breakdown of protein tissue like muscle
• Used to make bile salts and glutathione
• Helps regenerate cartilage and heal joints
• Helps repair leaky gut
• Makes skin more supple
So, instead of risking your dog’s dental health by feeding marrow bones, pull out your crockpot and make some healing bone broth!