A Bone to Pick

31Days2013

Do you have a dog who loves marrow bones? Read on for a way to reuse empty bones, creating a snack your dog will beg for!

The Large Breed is now two years old, and let me just say: he has some seriously beautiful pearly whites. They’re huge and they sometimes scare children (and adults), but they are strong and shiny and clean, and I’ve only brushed them once.

When the Large Breed was a puppy, I was determined to “keep on top of the brushing” of his teeth, unlike with dogs I’d had previously whose teeth were stained and yellowed and caked with tartar. These dogs all hated canine toothpaste, no matter how tasty the brands tried to create them (Peanut Butter? Liver flavored? No wonder they gagged).

So I set out to brush the Large Breed’s teeth, and let’s just say he would have NONE OF IT. It was a terrible experience for both of us, and I wasn’t keen on repeating it anytime soon. Months passed; a year…

Then one day the Large Breed’s Best Bud (who is almost the same age as Large Breed) was over playing and I had a good look at his teeth. Ew. I knew from Best Bud’s owner that Best Bud isn’t “into bones” as is Large Breed. I started noticing other dog’s teeth, and asking the humans/owners about bones, and almost without fail: dogs with “good teeth” were dogs who chowed down on bones.

For anyone who is about to panic, picturing dogs with splintered chicken bones protruding from their throats, I’m talking about marrow bones. Raw beef bones, sometimes bearing bits of meat and fat and sinew, sold in most supermarket meat departments. They pose no risk of breaking or splintering as dogs gnaw on them.

The Large Breed loves marrow bones like he loves his mama. More. And if allowed, he’d go through several a day. But the bones are reserved for special treats, or when we need to distract him for a while (at home watching a movie; at an outdoor cafe in Brooklyn). We try to keep a ready supply of bones in the freezer, but we’re not always able to find them at the market. Also, we have quite a surplus of empty bones the Large Breed has finished mining of marrow, and I hate just throwing them away. So I developed a method of reusing them.

I wait until a dozen or more bones are empty, gnawed dry by the Large Breed, then I clean them. This might mean scrubbing them in the sink, soaking them in boiling water, or even running through the dishwasher. Then I line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper. I stand the bones on end on the paper, and stuff the bottom with a bit of raw ground meat- chicken or turkey, usually, but any will do. Then I tuck inside a tiny treat or two- a small piece of cheese; a chunk of beef or liver or other raw meat. Then I stuff the bone to the top with more ground meat, lay the bones down on the baking sheet and place in the freezer. In a few hours they’ll be frozen solid, ready for immediate treating, or storing in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

Top L bone is an "unused" marrow bone. See the meat and fat on it? Bottom L and Top R bones are empty. Bottom R bone is refilled with ground meat and snacks tucked inside.

Top L bone is an “unused” marrow bone. See the meat and fat on it? Bottom L and Top R bones are empty. Bottom R bone is refilled with ground meat and snacks tucked inside.

The Large Breed loves the reused meaty bones as much as the original marrow bones, though he’s quicker at emptying them of their contents. Afterward, he’ll chomp on the bone for quite some time, tossing it up, catching it in his molars, happy as a clam. I’m certain that all this bone-biting is the reason his teeth still look lovely, and I hope the habit will continue to help his teeth stay healthy as he gets older.

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One thought on “A Bone to Pick

  1. Pingback: Thirty-One Days: Reuse, Remake, Re-love | reusethematerialgirl

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