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Are oxtails good for dogs?

Quick Answer

Oxtails can be a healthy treat for dogs in moderation. They are a good source of protein, minerals like calcium and phosphorus, and glucosamine which supports joint health. However, oxtails are high in fat so should only be fed occasionally. It’s best to stick to lean meat without bones for regular meals. Supervise your dog when feeding oxtails to prevent choking on bones.

Are oxtails safe for dogs to eat?

Oxtails are generally safe for dogs to eat in moderation. Here are some key considerations when feeding oxtails to dogs:

  • Choking hazard – Raw oxtail bones can pose a choking hazard. It’s best to feed cooked oxtails with bones removed.
  • Fat content – Oxtails are high in saturated fat. Limit oxtail intake to occasional treats.
  • Allergies – Some dogs may be allergic to beef. Monitor for signs like itching or gastrointestinal upset.
  • Raw meat risks – Raw oxtails may contain bacteria like Salmonella. Cook thoroughly before feeding.

As long as you follow basic precautions, oxtails can be a nutritious source of protein, minerals, and glucosamine for dogs. Feed in moderation along with a balanced commercial diet.

Nutritional profile of oxtails for dogs

Here is the nutritional breakdown of 3 ounces (85g) of braised oxtail meat without bone:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 245
Protein 17g
Fat 19g
Calcium 25mg
Phosphorus 140mg
Glucosamine 136mg

As you can see, oxtails provide a good amount of protein and minerals like calcium and phosphorus. They are also high in glucosamine, a nutrient that supports joint health.

However, oxtails are high in saturated fat. This means they should only be fed occasionally as a treat.

For regular meals, it’s best to stick with leaner cuts of meat or commercial dog foods formulated with your dog’s nutritional needs in mind.

Benefits of oxtails for dogs

Here are some of the main benefits oxtails can provide for dogs:

Joint health

Oxtails are naturally high in glucosamine and chondroitin. These compounds support cartilage health and may help manage arthritis and joint problems in dogs. The collagen in oxtails may also benefit joint health.

Muscle maintenance

The protein in oxtails helps maintain lean muscle mass in dogs. Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles.

Dental health

Chewing on oxtails can help clean plaque and tartar off your dog’s teeth. This helps reduce the risk of dental disease. Make sure to supervise chewing and remove any loose bone fragments.

Mental enrichment

Gnawing on meaty oxtail bones provides mental stimulation and enrichment for dogs. The chewing action can help relieve boredom and anxiety.

Nutrient intake

In addition to protein, oxtails provide other key nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. These support overall health and bodily functions.

So in moderation, oxtails can be a tasty and nutritious supplement for dogs. Just be mindful of the high fat content and potential choking risk.

Are there any risks with feeding oxtails?

While oxtails can make a healthy treat, there are some potential risks to be aware of:

Gastrointestinal upset

The high fat content of oxtails may cause digestive upset in some dogs if fed too frequently or in large amounts. Diarrhea or vomiting could occur.


The fat content also poses a risk of developing pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Obese dogs are at higher risk.

Choking hazard

Raw oxtail bones can splinter and pose a choking risk or damage the esophagus/intestines if swallowed. Never feed uncooked bones.

Bacteria exposure

Raw or undercooked oxtails may contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella. Thorough cooking is essential to kill bacteria.

Nutritional imbalance

Excessive oxtail intake could lead to an unbalanced diet if it replaces too much of your dog’s regular food.

To reduce risks, feed oxtails in moderation along with a nutritionally complete commercial diet. Always supervise your dog when eating bones.

How to choose and prepare oxtails for dogs

Here are some tips for choosing and preparing oxtails safely for dogs:

Select meaty oxtails

Look for meaty oxtails with plenty of flesh attached rather than just mostly bone. This provides more edible meat for your dog.

Avoid seasoning/salt

Choose plain oxtails without any seasonings or salt added. Seasonings and salt are unhealthy for dogs.

Cook thoroughly

Boil, bake or braise oxtails for at least an hour until the meat is fully cooked and tender. This kills any potential bacteria.

Remove loose bones

Once cooked, take the meat off the bones and remove any loose bone fragments to reduce choking risk.

Cut into pieces

Chop the oxtail meat into bite-sized pieces appropriate for your dog’s size before serving.

Avoid raw bones

Never give dogs raw oxtail bones as they can splinter and cause internal injury. Only feed cooked bone-free oxtail meat.

Following these preparation tips will allow you to safely feed oxtails as an occasional treat.

How much oxtail can I feed my dog?

It’s best to limit oxtail intake to no more than 10% of your dog’s total daily calories. Here are some general oxtail feeding guidelines based on dog size:

  • Small dogs – No more than 1 ounce of oxtail 2-3 times a week
  • Medium dogs – No more than 2 ounces of oxtail 2-3 times a week
  • Large dogs – No more than 4 ounces of oxtail 2-3 times a week

Always monitor your dog’s body condition and adjust as needed. Obese or overweight dogs should eat oxtails less frequently.

For puppies, wait until at least 6 months old before introducing oxtails to reduce choking risk. Start with very small amounts.

If your dog ever experiences diarrhea, vomiting or other signs of digestive upset after eating oxtails, stop serving them and see your vet.

Can I make bone broth from oxtails to feed my dog?

Yes, bone broth made from oxtails can be a nutritious supplement for dogs. To make oxtail bone broth:

  1. Place oxtail bones in a pot and add water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for at least 6-24 hours.
  3. Skim off any foam or fat that rises to the top.
  4. Strain the broth through a colander into a container.
  5. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for months.

This long simmering time extracts collagen, glucosamine, and minerals from the bones. These nutrients support joint, gut, and immune health in dogs.

Feed a few tablespoons of oxtail bone broth over your dog’s food as a supplement 1-2 times per week. Avoid overly salty broths.


Oxtails can make a healthy, nutritious treat for dogs in moderation. They provide protein, minerals, and joint-supporting compounds. However, oxtail bones pose a potential choking risk and require thorough cooking.

Stick to lean meats without bones for your dog’s regular meals and limit oxtails to no more than 10% of their diet 2-3 times a week. Supervise chewing and prepare oxtails properly to minimize risks. With some precautions, oxtails can be a tasty supplement to support your dog’s health.