No Bones about it -Calcium is essential for dogs!
The primary and most significant dietary difference between humans and dogs is the need for calcium. In a nutshell humans need more phosphorus in their diet relative to calcium and dogs need more calcium than phosphorus. So feeding a dog just human food is not going to meet your dog’s dietary need for calcium. This is especially important with puppies. They require a calcium rich diet to grow, and can suffer greatly if that is not provided.
Bones are the simple answer to providing calcium, they are naturally made from calcium (and phosphorus) and generally dogs love them. Bones need to be consumed not just gnawed, for the calcium to be obtained.
Veterinarians generally recommend bones three times weekly, and they should not be given in my view without supervision. Although ‘natural’ for a dog to eat raw bones, they can splinter, break, get caught in the teeth or mouth or throat, and that is before they are swallowed!
Cooked bones are a greater danger in doing all of the above as they are already ‘dried’ by cooking and are more brittle and prone to sharp breakage. The danger is this getting caught somewhere on the way through which can be very painful for your dog and very expensive to fix. So err on the side of caution, say no to cooked bones no matter the begging eyes.
Or you can have the problem I faced with Beanie who is intolerant of raw bones. She is a “crush and swallow” kind of dog and would vomit any bone back up, and if it did get through it would mean days of diarrhoea. She needed to have a supplement for calcium, and that was part of my journey in making Wellbeing Essentials. Amongst other things, Wellbeing Essentials has the correct ratio and if given in the prescribed amount for their weight, will meet the calcium to phosphorus ratio they require. Puppies need twice the amount of calcium of an adult dog so if using Wellbeing Essentials the easiest is to just double the dosage for their weight.
Calcium is in many things, a quarter of the earth’s surface is made up of calcium. Given a high protein diet your dogs phosphorus needs will be naturally met, however the calcium need will require a bit more planning.
Calcium is in abundance in diary of course, dark leafy greens like broccoli and Chinese greens, and of course it is feasible to supplement with Dolomite (calcium carbonate) or buying human supplements of calcium hydroxyapatite (pharmacy grade bonemeal) from your health food store. The amount required varies by age and weight and source of calcium; it is a bit complicated because there are a number of variables – the absolute amount of calcium required and for the ratio of calcium to phosphorus to be correct.
Although dogs are very tolerant of high calcium diets, you will know when they have too much calcium as it is excreted in their faeces; if the ‘output’ is dry, white, chalky looking on an ongoing basis, then cut back the bones. Too much calcium, for dogs who have lots of bones in their diet, can effect zinc absorption so be mindful of this too.