since the topic came up in the other thread, i decided to make this post now, so i have all my notes in one place and can easily convert it to an article later on.
so first things first, here we have the bone:
this is what's commonly referred to as a "femur" or "knuckle" bone, and in the above picture, it's the most common kind people buy: beef.
at the grocery store you usually see them cut like this
, and when they are commercially sold for pets, the knuckles
are mostly cut off already, and the "body" is either sold whole
or cut into various sizes.
to be "anatomically correct", you can only refer to the bones of the hind legs that are attached to the pelvis as "femurs", but there are other bones that are very similar - the tibia (in pork: tibia & fibula), the upper end of which attaches to the femur and the lower part to the tarsal bones of the foot, and the scapula, humerus, radius & ulna of the front legs.
they are all fairly large, tubular, weight bearing bones with big joint knuckles. in beef bones, these knuckle parts are the best thing you can offer your dog as a recreational bone, since they are soft enough so there is no danger of breaking teeth.
the fact that these bones are weight bearing affects the texture of the bone, and the older the source animal is, the longer and heavier the weight compressing the bone matrix. i'm sure you have heard of this before when learning that broken bones in young humans and animals heal much faster than in adults.
so it's not exaggerated when i'm telling you that these center parts of marrow bones are the hardest, most durable bones in the body. even wild wolves and african wild dogs (two species who hunt and kill large prey animals) were observed to only chew off the ends of these bones* - their teeth guarantee their survival and broken ones put them at a disadvantage.
a word on nutritional value:
on many forums i see references to articles like this one
on thepetcenter.com and other commercial sites. they try very hard to protect their commercial interests and try to refute the benefits of raw diets in many different ways, trying to argue from the point of view that bones don't have much nutritional value.
that is really ridiculous, since the type of bones they are looking at, like our nice big marrow bone above, are recreational bones
, which are not intended to be eaten as a meal. not only do they serve as the most natural chew toy available, they also play an important role for oral health by keeping chewing muscles exercised, teeth clean and gums conditioned.
so next time you are out shopping, keep your eyes open for the knuckle ends rather than the tubular center parts.
* source: "raw meaty bones promote health", tom lonsdale, DMV: pp 324 and 325