Dogs are natural scavengers and will eat just about anything. While this can be a good thing for keeping them from begging for food at the dinner table, it also means that they can be prone to eating things that aren’t good for them. This includes cow hooves, which can be dangerous if not properly prepared. In this article, we’ll show you how to prepare cow hooves for dogs to be safe to eat.
Cow hooves are the cow equivalent of our fingernails, but they are made of keratin rather than actual fingernails. They are mainly used to make glue and plastics because keratin is pretty brittle and can be crushed into powder form; therefore, it’s not entirely necessary to prepare the hooves before feeding them to your pup.
Things You’ll Need
- Large pot for boiling water
- Cookie sheet (for drying)
- Knife, spoon, or hack saw (to scrape and hack off the hooves)
- Large tray/container to collect the water (After boiling)
- Cooler and ice
A Step by Step Guide on How to Prepare Cow Hooves for Dogs
Step 1: Determine How Many Hooves to Boil
Most dogs will eat one cow hoof per meal. If you have a small dog, this may be too much, but if your dog is over 100 pounds, it can handle 2 or 3 cow hooves in one meal (boiled). How many you prepare at once depends on how quickly you plan on feeding them and the size of the pot. I prefer to do about four hooves because it allows me to work with one at a time and not worry that I’ll be waiting for water to boil.
Step 2: Clean the Hooves
Clean the hooves off with warm water and any soap you have. Ensure all dirt, hair, or anything else is removed from the hoof. They must be clean before boiling them because otherwise, they will not cook properly inside. If they are dirty, it may keep them from being soft enough to chew, so be careful!
Step 3: Boil the Hooves
Take your container, put water in it, and put the hooves in. Make sure you have enough water to cover 1/2 way up to the top of the hoof. Turn your stove on high heat and make sure you monitor it while they are boiling because if you let them go too long, they may get overcooked, which will make it hard for your dog to chew. How long you boil them depends on how many cow hooves are in there at once and your pot size. Larger pot = Longer time spent boiling = Softer Hooves! I usually do about 10 minutes or so each since I am only doing 2-3 at a time in this large pot.
Step 4: Remove the Hooves from Boiling Water and Cooling
Place your cooling rack on a cookie sheet or pan that will catch any water that falls as you scrape and cut off the hooves. You can also use the same container to boil them in; just make sure it’s big enough to handle them after they are boiled! How many you do at once depends on how quickly you want to go through this process. I usually only do about 2 or 3, so I can work with one at a time and pay more attention while cutting them.
Ensure your hands are excellent before handling these because it’ll be harder for you to cut/scrape them without hurting yourself if they burn your hand! However, I don’t think it’s possible to get burned by them if you touch them when they are right out of the water because they will still be very hot. Also, the warmth from your hands will help to loosen up any last bits that may be stuck on there.
If you get burned, it should only feel like a minor sunburn, and your skin shouldn’t blister or anything like that. After boiling for about 10 minutes in this large pot, they should come off quickly with a knife and spoon (or hacksaw). It is essential to keep an eye on these while cutting because we all know what happened the last time we got distracted! If you happen to cut too deep and take a chunk out, don’t worry! Just turn the hoof over and use that side to fill it in.
Step 5: How Many to Feed and How Often
So, how many should you feed your dog and how often depends on the dog’s size. I would recommend starting with one per meal and seeing if they like it. How many days in a row depends on your preference for freshness (the fresher they are, the more nutrients) and how quickly your dog eats them (they may eat all four within 10 minutes resulting in them becoming dry). Soaking them overnight in water can help last longer, but this is up to you!
I don’t soak mine because my dogs love these so much that they quickly go through them! How often you feed them also depends on how quickly your dog goes through a bag of these. How many you should give per meal is up to you and how much your dog needs! If you have a senior dog, I recommend giving them about 1-2 a day for a puppy who should be eating more often, maybe 5 or 6 at each feeding. Of course, how many can vary from pup to pup, but this should give you an idea of what to start with.
Step 6: How Long do Cow Hooves Last?
I usually buy 3 lb bags of these, and they last my dogs about a week or a little less because I have three 30 lbs pups that go through them pretty fast! The fresher, the better, so try to get them as fresh as possible for your dog! How long you can keep them depends on how much your dog goes through their cow hooves. If they are eating 2-3 a day, they should be pretty dried out after about a week or so and lose some of their nutrients. How long they can be kept varies from pup to pup, but I would recommend at least three weeks, if not more! These steps will help in how to prepare cow hooves for dogs.
1. Make sure the cow hooves you choose come from a free-range, grass-fed cow so that it will be as natural and healthy as possible.
2. If your dog has any allergies, do a spot test before feeding them a hoof for the first time since they can sometimes cause allergic reactions in dogs.
3. Cow hooves are very tough, and dogs have to work their jaws extra hard chewing on them, which can lead to dental problems if it’s not something they’re used to or if they’re not lasered regularly.
4. Avoid getting yourself dirty by wearing gloves while preparing the hooves.
5. Make sure you have enough time to do this task yourself before giving it to your dog; you don’t want them getting impatient while waiting for their treat!
Pros and Cons of Giving Cow Hooves to Your Dog
In general, cow hooves are an excellent treat for your dog. While a typical snack–a big bag of beef jerky sits in many people’s pantries—the critical difference is that cow hooves have no additives or preservatives and therefore have longer-lasting benefits for dogs. That being said, there are some cons associated with giving your dog a cow hoof:
- The chewing action associated with eating a cow hoof cleans and polishes your dog’s teeth
- The chewing action associated with eating a cow hoof exercises your dog’s jaw muscles which helps to prevent dental problems later in life
- The chewing action associated with eating a cow hoof satisfies your dog’s need to chew and can help keep them from chewing on household items they shouldn’t be chewing on
- In some dogs, the consistency of a cow hoof is not well-suited for their particular palate
- In certain circumstances, giving your dog too much of a good thing in terms of nutritional value is possible. How much this occurs is a matter of significant debate within the veterinary community. Still, it’s important to note that if you have any concerns about whether or not feeding your dog cow hooves is a good idea; you should always consult with your veterinarian first.
- If improperly stored, the nutty flavor of nutritious cow hooves can be easily compromised by odors that other items in your pantry might pick up, which could turn your dog off to the treat entirely.
You can check it out to Restrain a Dog to Cut His Nails
We hope you have learned how to prepare cow hooves for dogs. Cow hooves are a great source of calcium for dogs. If you want to give your dog cow hooves, make sure that they’re prepared correctly by boiling them in water with beef bones or other animal parts for at least an hour before feeding them to the dog. Boiling helps remove any bacteria and toxins from the cow’s hoof so that when it is provided to your pet, there will be no risk of food poisoning. Remember this simple rule if you plan on giving your pup some cow hooves: prepare first!