are marrow bones good for dogs

Wellness Wednesday: Unraveling the Canine Conundrum – Are Marrow Bones Good for Dogs?

Updated: March 2024

The sight of a dog blissfully gnawing on a marrow bone is a classic image of canine contentment. But as with many treats, it’s essential to separate the joy from potential risks. In this guide, we’ll delve into the nutritional aspects, safety considerations, responsible practices, and the sheer pleasure marrow bones offer our furry companions.

The Nutritional Value of Marrow Bones

  • A Mineral Powerhouse: Marrow is a significant source of calcium and phosphorus – building blocks for strong bones and healthy teeth. It also delivers iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, and other vitamins that support overall health.
  • The Fat Factor: While bone marrow is undeniably rich and flavorful, it’s a concentrated source of fat. This offers an energy boost for active dogs, but also emphasizes the importance of moderation to maintain a balanced diet.
  • Not a Complete Meal: Think of marrow bones as a delicious supplement, never a replacement for your dog’s regular, nutritionally balanced food. Keep an eye out for signs that your dog needs a meal supplement.

Safety First: Choosing and Supervising

  • Raw is Best: Never offer dogs cooked marrow bones. They become brittle, increasing the risk of splintering, and potentially causing choking hazards or internal injuries. Always source raw marrow bones from trusted suppliers.
  • Size Matters: Pick the right size marrow bone for your dog. Overly large bones can be frustrating, while too-small bones pose a choking risk.
  • Supervision is Key: Never leave your dog unsupervised with a bone. If it gets small enough to swallow whole, becomes damaged, or your dog loses interest, remove it safely.
  • Freezing for Safety & Fun: Frozen marrow bones are harder (less likely to splinter), last longer, and offer a soothing treat for teething puppies or hot days.

Bone Varieties for Every Dog

  • Knuckle Bones: Hardy and long-lasting, great for power chewers. The cartilage offers extra joint-health support.
  • Long Bones: Ideal for large breeds with strong jaws. Ask your butcher to cut them to an appropriate length for your dog’s size.
  • Split Bones: Offer easy access to the delicious marrow, especially good for beginners or less aggressive chewers.
  • Small Marrow Bones: Tailored for smaller breeds, ensuring a safe chewing experience.
  • Alternatives: For puppies, senior dogs, or those with dental issues, consider softer “marrow chew toys” filled with safe, spreadable fillings.

Benefits Beyond Nutrition: The Joy of Chewing

  • Natural Instinct: Chewing is a deeply embedded canine instinct, providing both mental and physical satisfaction.
  • Dental Delight: Gnawing on bones helps scrape away plaque and tartar, a natural toothbrush for healthier teeth and gums.
  • Boredom Buster: A marrow bone provides a focused, satisfying activity that combats boredom and potential destructive behaviors.
  • Stress Relief: For some dogs, the act of chewing can be immensely calming, reducing anxiety or excess energy.

Moderation is Key

  • A High-Fat Treat: While beneficial, marrow is rich in fat. Overindulgence can lead to digestive upset, weight gain, and even pancreatitis, especially in susceptible dogs.
  • Occasional Indulgence: Think of marrow bones as a special treat a few times per month rather than a daily staple.
  • Balancing the Diet: Make sure to account for the calories and fat content of marrow bones when planning your dog’s overall diet.

Introducing Marrow Bones

  • Start Slowly: Begin with short chewing sessions (10-15 minutes) to allow your dog’s system to adjust and to observe their chewing style.
  • Watch for Reactions: Monitor for loose stools (a sign of too much rich marrow), or signs of allergies, and adjust accordingly.


When offered responsibly, marrow bones offer dogs a delightful and beneficial experience. Choose wisely, supervise, practice moderation, and you’ll unlock a world of primal, delicious joy for your furry best friend!