Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Raw Meaty Bones for Dogs (and Even Cats)

Raw meaty bones are a great way to improve your pet’s nutrition, keep his teeth clean, provide exercise and improve his psychological well-being.  Many holistic veterinarians, including Dr. Ian Billinghurst who wrote Give Your Dog a Bone and The BARF Diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), recommend feeding uncooked bony parts of chickens (necks, wings, backs), beef knuckles, marrow bones, turkey necks, lamb ribs.  And they should be a significant part of your dog’s diet. 

Raw Bones are NOT Dangerous
We’ve all heard how bones can splinter and get caught in your pet’s throat, but that is not the case for RAW bones.  Yes, cooked bones can become brittle, but raw bones are pliable and resilient.  Poultry bones can be chewed and digested (or swallowed whole, if you are a certain lab-chow mix who lives with me).  Harder bones like beef or bison are mainly recreational, not meant for eating, just chewing.  They provide marrow, gristle and connective tissue, contributing valuable nutrients, roughage and teeth-cleaning components.

Of course, you should supervise your pet while they are chewing, just like you should supervise them during play or with toys.  And thaw out the bone before feeding it since a hard frozen bone could chip a tooth.  Your white carpet is definitely in danger with a gooey raw bone around, so feed outside or in a crate or on a floor that can be mopped.  Choose a bone to match your pet’s head size--you can’t give them a bone that is too big, but you can give them a too small bone they might choke on.  One last tip...separate your dogs when you give them their bones.  Even the best of friends may get testy when there is freshly killed prey in the house!

Raw bones provide the perfect balance of minerals for a carnivore’s growth, development and maintenance.  Wild canines and felines depended for eons on the bones of their prey for adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other trace minerals.  Feeding raw bones in your raw diet helps achieve this balance without you having to worry about micromanaging supplements and additives.

Raw bones also provide essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins, blood boosters from the marrow, cartilage and collagen to prevent arthritis, proteins and important amino acids.  Poultry necks and wings contain glucosamine.  Meaty bones can constitute an entire meal, occasionally.  Dr. Richard Pitcairn, who wrote The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, even recommends a short bone fast once or twice a month to mimic lean times your dog might encounter in the wild.

Dental Health
Raw bones are nature’s toothbrushes!  Kristi has never had to spend $400 to get her pets’ teeth cleaned because raw bones act like floss in the mouth, polishing and scraping away tartar as the animal gnaws.  And raw meat creates a slightly acidic oral environment that retards plaque and tartar formation and freshens the breath.  The myth still prevails that dry kibble cleans teeth, but if that were true, then we should be able to brush our teeth with Chex mix and animals fed kibble should never need their teeth cleaned.

Have you ever watched one of those nature shows and seen the wolf or the lion feasting on its kill?  I usually turn the TV off before it gets to that point, but my point is that when feeding on raw bones, your dog or cat will use every muscle in its body to tear the meat from the bone, bracing its prize with its paws while pulling the meat with its teeth.  Cats will stalk that chicken neck and tackle it with gusto once it’s “dead.”  Watch your cat or dog crush, rip, tear and chew bones and be glad they are domesticated!  

Mental Health
You’ve heard of Runner’s High?  How about Chewer’s High?  I just made that up, but it is exactly the same thing...the act of chewing/gnawing on a bone, like taking a long run, releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins that continue to circulate long after the chewing is over.  

Ground Poultry Bones for Finicky Animals
Some dogs and many cats are hesitant about bones, or their teeth are poor and they have difficulty chewing.  Feed these guys Green Earth Pet Food Chompin’ Chicken (dogs), Lickin’ Chicken (cats) or Savory Salmon (cats), all of which contain ground chicken bone.  It’s not quite as effective at cleaning teeth, but does provide the same nutritional value.  Or you can try chicken feet … they are mainly cartilage so easy to chew but also provide teeth cleaning qualities (and all that cartilage really helps arthritic dogs).

We also sell organic beef marrow bones which are 2” to 3” long--small enough for the little dog or big enough for the large dog in your life.

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