Poultry Necks for Good Dental Health

Raw skinless poultry necks can provide health benefits to your dog. They contribute to good dental health because they consist of lean raw meat, connective tissue. and soft bones. Raw poultry bones can be chewed and swallowed safely and provide excellent cleaning and bone stimulation for the jaws. However cooked poultry bones become brittle and are unsafe. Also, it is important that your dog chew the neck and not swallow it whole which defeats the dental benefits and presents a choking hazard.

What size? It is important to choose the correct size of poultry neck. You want your dog to chew and break down the neck slowly and to not swallow large pieces. You will need to select the appropriate size of neck depending on your dog's size. Chicken necks come in one size. Turkey necks come in 2 sizes: hen and tom. Chicken necks are appropriate for tiny dogs, while hen turkey necks are better for medium-size dogs. For Chihuahua-size dogs, cut the chicken neck in two pieces and feed only one piece per meal. For small dogs either a whole chicken neck or a third of a hen turkey neck is good. Labs may eat a whole hen turkey neck or a portion of a tom turkey neck. Large dogs such as Rottweiler's may be able to eat a half of a Tom turkey neck.

Supervise feeding of the neck to see if your dog will eat it at all, chew on it rather than attempt to swallow it whole, and not leave any uneaten portion. If your dog passes all these tests then you are good to go.

Where do I get raw poultry necks?

All American Pet on Q Street and Martin Luther King Blv. in the Shari's shopping center has hen turkey necks in frozen 2-packs. Bright Oaks Meats on Main Street in Springfield has them available in 30-lb frozen blocks. Your butcher may also provide them in smaller quantities.

They are somewhat messy to work with and precautions need to be taken to ensure safety.

Frozen blocks of necks need to be separated under running water. This is the time to cut them into smaller pieces if needed and refrozen in individual servings immediately. It is best to separate them and disarticulate them into appropriate portions yourself rather than have the butcher saw the block into sections which can leave small pieces and splinters of bones.

How do I feed them?

A frozen poultry neck can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight, or under cold water. They need to fed as an entire meal in place of a regular meal and offered about 3 times weekly. It is best to confine your dog to his pen while eating to protect rugs and furniture. Be sure not to allow your dog to take them onto dead dry grass as there is danger of foxtails going up into the nose during chewing. If your dog does not finish the entire neck this may be a sign that the portion is too big and will guide you to offer a smaller portion in the future.

What about bacterial contamination?

It is assumed that all poultry products are contaminated with bacteria, some of which can be disease causing. For this reason, raw meat and poultry necks need to be handled safely. Keep fresh, raw necks frozen and thaw only the portion to be fed. Wash your hands, utensils, and cutting board with warm soapy water after handling to prevent bacterial contamination. Discard any uneaten portions. Wash dog's feed bowl after each use.