Ask Dr Fiona
Can I give my 9 week old Mastiff x puppy bones to chew on?
In the wild, puppies naturally wean themselves from their mother’s milk at around 6-8 weeks of age. They start to eat on their own and decrease the amount of milk they drink from their mother.
From this age, your puppy needs to be fed a quality balanced premium commercial puppy food and this food needs to comply with the Australian Standard. You should ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
As their adult teeth begin to erupt at around 3 -6 months of age, fresh RAW meaty bones can also be introduced to ‘teach’ your puppy how to chew properly. The chewing action can help keep teeth clean and healthy but be aware that feeding bones is not without risks!
You should follow these guidelines if you plan to introduce bones:
- Bones should always be raw. Never feed cooked bones as these can splinter and cause internal damage or lead to an intestinal obstruction
- The bone must be ‘meaty’ so that the puppy can chew slowly on the bone. The bone should not be able to fit entirely in your puppy’s mouth and your puppy should not be able swallow the bone whole
- Always supervise your puppy when eating raw bones
- It’s best to allow your puppy to chew on the bone for 15-20 mins only
- Too many raw bones can cause constipation. One raw bone per week is generally a good guide
- Dogs can sometimes become protective with a bone so be careful around the dog and do not allow young children to approach dogs that are eating
- Some examples of bones that you could offer your puppy include raw lamb ribs and raw lamb flaps
- Do not feed large marrow bones, t-bones, ‘chop’ bones e.g. lamb cutlets, large knuckle bones or bones that have been halved lengthwise
- Discard the bone once your dog has finished chewing or after 15 -20 minutes
- Do not feed raw chicken bones or raw chicken necks as there has recently been a study that shows there may be a link between feeding raw chicken and a disease that causes paralysis in dogs. You can read more about the study here.
- You should talk to your veterinarian for more advice and consider a veterinary examination before feeding bones to ensure your puppy’s jaw is normal and that your puppy can safely chew on a bone.
If you’d like to chat in person, you can get a live video call or start a text chat to discuss in more detail, as soon as possible.
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