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When should I introduce raw meaty bones to puppies & kittens?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023


At any point from the age of 4-5 weeks old raw meaty bones can be fed to puppies and kittens. Initially they are unlikely to eat them, more likely simply chewing and playing with the, but introducing them at this young age is a great way to get them used to the taste and provide a useful teething aid for those sharp baby teeth cutting through whilst they bitch, or queen is still able to meet their nutritional needs. For those bringing a new puppy or kitten home at say, age 6-8 weeks of age, raw meaty bones are the ideal food as they learn about their new home and surrounds. Ideally there would be no need to feed any commercial products, simply feeding a raw meaty bone-based diet from the outset to ensure the new puppy or kitten thrives in their new home.

The youngster may not have been introduced to raw meaty bones before, maybe being fed on some milky cereal-based breeder special up to now, sadly a favourite of some NZ breeders is white bread soaked in milk. If this is the case, they may be a little hesitant to try this new, foreign, somewhat strange food. Choosing soft meaty bones like chicken necks means they can easily be chopped or minced to make them a little more tempting for the pet, adding bone broth can make them extra tasty to ease the transition while providing another excellent source of nutrition.

As well as small, soft digestible meaty bones, the puppy or kitten should be given large recreational bones, these are not bones to eat, they are bones to chew on, play on, and cut their teeth on. They need to be large enough not to be swallowed and become a choking hazard, a good long bone is usually ideal. Bone eating forms a huge part of the youngsters’ development, for those who appear constantly hungry or are gaining too much weight the proportion of recreational bones can be increased and the soft edible meaty bones decreased to ensure the calorie intake does not exceed the nutritional or energy requirements. Likewise, for those with small appetites or not that interested in bones, meaty edibles bones can take priority until they develop a little more interest.

Dr Ian Billinghurst, Author

If you’re looking for an easy, well-informed read on nutrition, one author worth checking out is Dr Ian Billinghurst with chapters devoted to breeding specific nutrition, the above article is based on his text "Grow your pups with bones".


Billinghurst, I. 1998. Grow your pups with bones. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing.

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