RAW MEATY BONES are an Integral Part of a Healthy, Raw Food Diet
First, let me make something perfectly clear. Dogs are carnivores, taxonomically and anatomically.
Taxonomically, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists in the Mammal Species of the World, A Taxonomical and Geographic Reference dogs were reclassified as a subspecies of wolf (Canis lupus familiaris). Robert K. Wayne, Ph.D. (1993), a canine evolutionary biologist at UCLA, asserted that dogs are a diverse group of modified wolves: "Dogs are gray wolves, despite their diversity in size and proportion."
Anatomically, dogs possess the obvious characteristics of a carnivore. Their eyes are positioned at the front of their head, looking forward. They have large nasal passages. They have strong, muscular jaws with prominent carnassial and canine teeth. Their digestive system contains a large, highly acidic stomach and relatively short intestinal tract and bowel. They also have a small pancreas. This design allows them to rip and crush their prey, and eat large amounts of food and bone in a short amount of time; it also protects them from bacteria, which lets them eat rotting carcasses when necessary.
Despite all of this scientific evidence, vets still insist that dogs are omnivores and must be fed an over-processed, cereal-based, chemically-infused diet of kibble. They also believe that raw diets have been proven a dangerous fad. What proof of danger? And, how can a diet that is thousands, maybe even millions, of years old be a fad? (Fad: a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal.)
With all this information in mind, I have chosen to feed my own dogs an archetypal, natural, and varied diet of carcass pieces, including bones, organs, and green tripe. (I really ought to be better about the tripe, but it reeks!) This diet is referred to as raw meaty bones, prey-model, and, sometimes, frankenprey. Let me embark on the what, how, and when of why I feed my canine furkids an archetypal canid diet.
As I established in advance, all dogs' anatomy is adapted to assimilate a raw meat diet, from the smallest Chihuahua to the largest Mastiff.
Raw, whole carcasses are best suited for our dogs but are often unrealistic in modern society. (Can you imagine your neighbor's reaction to a whole cow in your yard being dismembered by your dog?) Domestication has not changed dogs' digestive system enough to change their nutritional needs.
Those of us who feed raw, prey-model diets report white teeth, shiny coats, less shedding, reduced allergy symptoms, vanishing doggy odor, smaller stools, improved disposition, easing of arthritis symptoms, a healthier GI tract, and maintaining ideal weights. I know these sound like superficial changes, but they are consequential. White teeth are due to the enzymes in raw meat. They act as toothpaste, while the scraping action of bones act as a tooth brush. Shiny coats and less shedding are the result of animal fats and proteins in the right forms and ratios to prevent toxins from having to be excreted through the skin. Allergies clear because no grains are present. Smaller stools are due to the bioavailability of the food. Their bodies are using it instead of excreting undigested/unusable carbohydrates.
Dispositions improve because sugars and synthetic chemicals are no longer a part of their diet. Arthritis lessens when the immune system isn't taxed with inappropriate foods. The GI tract won't have to work as hard on digestion because it gets the necessary enzymes to complete the digestion process. Weight is naturally maintained when there are no carbohydrates to store, and the ripping and tearing of raw carcass pieces give the stomach time to prepare for the arrival of food by increasing its acidity level. So, all the superficial appearances have real health value to go along with them.
Carcass pieces, organs, bones, and tripe! Remember, you need to keep in mind your dog's size and appetite, but here are some of the crazy things I feed my Newfs:
Beef, Lamb or Pork: ribs, shanks, houlders, necks, oxtails, feet, brisket, hocks, heart, tongue, kidney, liver, sweetbreads, and green tripe.
Poultry (Chicken, turkey, duck): eggs, necks, backs, bonein breasts,legs, wings, liver, hearts, gizzard, and, if your dog is large enough, you can simply half or quarter the chicken! Big game (buffalo, venison, elk, antelope): ribs, necks, liver, tongue, and green tripe. Whole: rabbit, quail, herring, mackerel, sardine, tilapia, and trout.
Personally, I rarely feed pre-made raw diets, although any raw is better than none. Ground meat and bone are not natural-state foods for dogs, and there is not enough time for the stomach acid to prepare for the food. Many, if not most, pre-made raw diets are based on the misconception that dogs are omnivores. Therefore, they add fruits, vegetables, and worse, some add grain. Others add unnecessary synthetic vitamins, minerals and trace elements. And some pasteurize their foods to kill bacteria, which also kills enzymes! (The few times that I feed a pre-made raw, it is always a ground meat, organ, and bone diet)
Raw prey-model feeding doesn't require recipes or much preparation. From the creature of your choice, take a hunk of meaty bone (sized appropriate for your dog) and hand it to him. You can feed meaty bones as a stand-alone meal or with a side of organ. I follow the 80/10/10 model: 80% muscle meat, 10 percent organs and 10 percent bone. And I try to feed fresh raw green tripe as a standard, although I need to add more of that.
As for how much, the general guideline is 2 to 4 percent of your dog's ideal body weight. I recommend starting at 2 percent for most dogs, 3 percent for puppies. Remember, these are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.
Differences in age and activity level vary, sometimes drastically. Even seasons and weather can affect how much dogs eat. Feel your dog's ribs, watch the waist: If he's gaining or losing weight, adjust the food accordingly. Sometimes, this can vary day to day.
If you have made the commitment to raw feeding, it is best to fast your dog for 24 hours, then dive right in! However, this is not for everyone. Some people want to start slowly. You can do this by using raw as treats. Some people will feed both raw and kibble. If you must do that, don't feed the kibble and raw simultaneously. Do separate meals, feeding the kibble when there will be at least 8 hours before feeding raw.
Like most raw feeders, I base how often I feed according to my dogs needs and adjust as necessary. I feed once a day. If we are working out, with my dogs performing water rescue work and pulling carts through a course, they will eat twice a day, with about a 30 percent increase in food.
So here are some starting guidelines. For puppies up to three months of age, feed four times a day until they consistently refuse a meal. Then go to three times a day for puppies up to six months of age. Again, when pups begin to consistently refuse a meal, go to feeding two times a day. Dogs over six months of age can eat twice a day. During periods of rapid growth, I recommend staying at twice a day, but cutting the food back if they aren't. Follow your dogs' lead - they will let you know, so pay attention!
Again, like a lot of prey-model feeders, I fast my dogs. The night before a fast, I will give them 30 percent more food, so I take advantage of larger meaty bones.The following day, I will just be sure that there is plenty of filtered water available. This cleanses the GI tract and gives it a rest.
Feeding raw prey-model diets is getting back to nature, back to basics. This is the most ideal way to feed our domestic wolves. The cooked, processed convenience dog foods we began to feed in the fifties cannot provide the nutrition our dogs need. But now, you know that there is a healthful, easy, and safe alternative for feeding your dogs.