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Why Dogs Should Have a Natural Diet.
A raw food-based diet is one approach that has grown in popularity over  the last decade, but  along with this growing popularity has come growing controversy regarding the benefits of feeding a raw diet. One of the biggest challenges in deciding whether to feed a raw diet is the overwhelming amount of conflicting information, and the fact that much of this information is anecdotal in nature. There are numerous websites and message boards extolling the virtues of a raw diet and there are others condemning raw diets as unsafe and unhealthy. When choosing how and what to feed your dog, you need balanced information—information that outlines both the good and bad so that an educated choice can be made.
There are two types of raw bones you can feed your pet as part of a healthy raw diet:
·        Edible bones are the hollow, non weight-bearing bones of birds (typically chicken wings and chicken and turkey necks). They are soft, pliable, don't contain marrow, and can be easily crushed in a meat grinder.
These bones provide calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals to a raw food diet. (When you feed meals containing edible bones, you should not supplement with bone meal.)
·        Recreational bones are the big beef or bison femur or hip bones filled with marrow. They don't supply much nutrition (because they should be gnawed on only, not chewed up and swallowed), but they do provide great mental stimulation and oral health benefits.
When your dog chews on a raw recreational bone, especially a meaty one with cartilage and soft tissue still attached, his teeth get the equivalent of a good brushing and flossing. This helps to break down tartar and reduces the risk of gum disease.
A veterinarian submitted an article to us about raw feeding, and we sent it back.
We don’t usually turn back content, but we did this time, and for a variety of reasons.
One of the reasons was the first impression we had of the author and the content. The article started with something to the effect of, “There is nothing more dangerous than a poorly prepared raw diet.” While we don’t disagree that dietary imbalances can cause health issues in dogs, the fact remains that nearly 10,000 dogs were killed by contaminated kibble in 2007.  In the face of this, it’s a pretty bold statement to say that nothing is more dangerous than a poorly prepared raw diet.
Raw feeders do have to be careful with what goes into their dogs however.
Meat and bone are lacking in many important nutrients. This is why it’s important to to to feed your dog all of the organs and all of the parts of an animal that they would eat had they tracked and killed that animal in the wild. Although some organ meats can be difficult to find, they are the most nutrient-dense part of the animal.
Many people that if we actually took one glance at them, the keyboard warriors we would soon come to the conclusion that they know very little about diet ,nutrition and quality food. You may take from that factual statement what you wish ! Yet they sit behind those qwerty keys and make general statements they have found using google as a research tool or they have listened to a novice dog owner who for some odd reason wishes to become queen of the castle and have those with the inability to think follow them…. Odd so odd. In order to understand the nutrition bones provide to pets, it's first necessary to nail down exactly what we're talking about when it comes to bones.
Raw bones contain marrow.
However, marrow isn't bone.
It's comprised primarily of fat and blood components, which are high quality nutrients – just not nutrients provided by the bone itself.
There is also cartilage attached to raw bones.
Cartilage also isn't bone.
It is connective tissue composed of about 50 percent collagen and mucopolysaccharides (chains of glucose molecules combined with mucous).
Collagen is fibrous connective tissue that is poorly digested by pets.
According to Miller's Anatomy Of The Dog, 2nd Editioni:
"Bone is about one third organic and two thirds inorganic material. The inorganic matrix of bone has a microcrystalline structure composed principally of calcium phosphate."
So bone is composed primarily of calcium phosphate. Calcium and phosphorus ratios and total amounts in a pet's diet are important. This is especially true for large breed puppies with unique nutritional requirements (0.8 percent calcium and 0.67 percent phosphorus is considered the ideal ratio for these pups).
The ideal total amount of calcium in dog food is 1.0 to 1.8 percent of the dry weight of the food. Many inexpensive, poor quality dog foods contain higher amounts of calcium – sometimes twice the recommended percentage. This is because large quantities of ground bone wind up in meat, poultry and fish meal pet food ingredients. Any pet food with "meat and bone meal" at or near the top of the ingredient list probably has an excessive amount of calcium, which can be detrimental for growing animals.   
Bone Found in Commercial Pet Food
According to, there are several forms of bone available, including:
·        Whole, fresh or frozen bones
·        Fresh bone meal or "green" bone meal
·        Bone meal or "raw" bone meal
·        Steamed bone meal
·        Bone meal ash or calcinated bone meal
Steamed bone meal is the type of bone used most often as an ingredient in mass-marketed commercial pet food. It's made from bones that are pressure-cooked to remove tissue and fat, then dried and ground. It ends up as a grayish granule or powder.
Manufacturers of steamed bone meal provide a guaranteed analysis for minimum calcium and phosphorus, minimum crude protein and maximum moisture.
·        According to, much of the bone meal sold to U.S. pet food manufacturers is imported, typically from China, Pakistan or Thailand. It may or may not exceed safe maximum limits for lead or other heavy metals. This is a question you'll want to ask the pet food company whose products you purchase.Contrary to a common misconception, the protein content of the food does not have any impact on the progression of renal disease Hypoallergenic diets limit the antigenic load the intestine has to cope with even when they are not true exclusion diets. As well as fat restriction masking clinical signs of fat malabsorption, modification of the n3:n6 ratio may modulate the inflammatory response. Finally, the diet should contain some moderately fermentable fiber (eg, psyllium, ispaghula) to ensure colonic health. Raw-meaty bones (BARF) diets have been recommended in IBDA natural diet for carnivores requires the animal to tear food material, which has a natural flossing action. Chewing materials that mimic a natural diet are raw meaty bones, rawhides or other chews. Large hard biscuits are also somewhat beneficial, particularly those that include a chemical anti-calculus agent such as a polyphosphate. Standard kibble dry food fed dry is only moderately effective in retarding plaque accumulation compared with canned food in dogs. Raw bones are usually sold frozen. When they thaw and your pet chews on them, they become a goopy delicacy that can leave 'bone prints' of grease, a little blood and small bits of meat around your house until your dog has completely cleaned them up. Many people offer bones outside, in crates, or on a surface that can be mopped afterwards. Don't offer raw bones on white carpet!
·        I tell people to match the size bone offered to your dog's head. Dogs can't be given a bone that's too big, but they can be given a bone that is too small. Bones that are too small can be choking hazards and cause significant oral trauma.
·        If your pet breaks off pieces of raw bone I recommend removing them.
·        Never cook raw bones; cooked bones splinter and are dangerous.
·        Always supervise dogs when you've given them raw bones.
·        I recommend separating even the best of dog friends when offering raw bones.
·        Recreational bones do not supply adequate calcium for homemade meals that don't contain edible bones or bone meal.
Myths that owners believe :
1. The best foods are those by veterinarians

While large brands sold in veterinarian's offices may be marketed as premium, top of the line foods, one look at the ingredients tells a different story. These formulas, made by large conglmorate food manufacturers, derive far more protein from grains or grain by-product sources such as corn gluten meal, brewer's rice, and wheat, than from healthy meat sources.
2. Dry food cleans your dog's and cat's teeth
This one is very common, even among some veterinarians, but it is most definitely not true. Dogs and cats have very pointed teeth; even their molars are sharp edged, not flat. These teeth are designed to bite, tear, and chew raw meat, so when a dog or cat eats kibble, they either swallow it whole or shatter it. Kibble does not scrape down onto the lower parts of the teeth or near the gums, which is where dental problems start. In fact, kibble can contribute to dental problems when the shattered bits lodge between the teeth, promoting bacterial growth
3. Pets need life stage appropriate diets, like puppy, kitten, and senior formulas
Life stage diets were created as a marketing tool:the more formulas manufacturers develop, the more shelf space they command. While it is true that puppies and kittens need more food for their size than adults, they don't need a specially formulated puppy or kitten diet. A high-quality, varied diet is the best option for your young pets. For puppies this can include dry foodcanned
dehydrated, and raw food.

4. Table scraps and other "people foods" are bad for your dog and cat
Most holistically trained veterinarians encourage the practice of feeding "people food" to our pets. Healthy leftovers are an excellent supplement to your companion's regular fare."There are only two rules with people food for pets:
1) It must be healthy for them: meat, steamed and finely chopped veggies & fruits, baked sweet potato, rice, oatmeal; no junk food; and
2) If you give them some of what you are eating, remember to feed less of their own food so that they don't put on extra pounds."
5. Your dog and cat should only eat food labeled as "complete and balanced."
Pet food companies have a pretty big interest in perpetuating this myth. Is every meal you eat complete and balanced? Even the most health-conscious among us don't worry about meeting the proper balance of nutrients at every meal. We know that over the course of the day or week our diet will be fairly complete, so we don't have to worry about eating exactly what the food pyramid recommends on a daily basis. Many of us take vitamins and supplements to fill in any gaps because even eating a very healthy diet of whole foods may not provide all the vitamins and minerals our body needs to stay healthy. One caveat here: meat is higher in phosphorus and lower in calcium, so when adding more than 15 - 20% extra meat to your companion's diet on a regular basis, keep the calcium and phosphorus ratio balanced over time by including raw bones or adding a calcium supplement.
6. Feeding raw food is dangerous due to the risk of Salmonella and E. Coli
The digestive tracts of dogs and cats are very different than those of humans. The human digestive tract is approximately 25 to 28 feet long with a stomach acidity between 1.5 and 2.5, whereas dogs and cats have a much shorter digestive system at an average of 10 to 13 feet for dogs (shorter for cats) with an acidity of less than 1. This means that raw food moves through your pet's system in less than half the time it would through a human's system, and the high acidity kills most bacteria. Even if the food was contaminated, it is likely that the microbes would not enter the animal's bloodstream. Commercially prepared raw food manufacturers take measures to control against the presence of unwanted organisms such as salmonella and e. coli, so if you're concerned about contamination, frozen raw diets are a good option.
If you eat meat, then you are aware of the precautions to take when handling raw meat. The same precautions apply to raw pet food: wash bowls, utensils and your hands after feeding and handling the meat. Keep the meat frozen until two to four days before feeding, and thaw in the refrigerator. Don't leave the food down for your pet for more than 30-40 minutes, and throw any leftovers away after this time. If you use common sense, feeding raw food is no more difficult or dangerous than any other pet food, and the health benefits are unparalleled.
7. High protein diets are hard on your pet's kidneys, especially as they age
This myth is a result of poor quality food manufacturers. The truth is that high plant protein diets are hard on your pet's organs; high animal protein diets aren't only healthy for your aging pets, but essential. Poor quality, mass produced pet foods are packed with protein from soy and corn. Unfortunately, your dog and cat are unable to properly digest and assimilate these sources of protein. 
"Animal protein is hugely important to our pets throughout their entire lives. High quality protein from actual meat sources contains important amino acids that your pets need to thrive."
8. Ash Content is an important guideline in choosing your cat's food
Concern about ash content in pet foods came about as veterinarians and cat guardians were looking for the cause of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD - formerly known as FUS). In the 70’'s & 80's, veterinarians thought ash was a factor in causing crystals in urine. There are, however, a variety of causes and ash is no longer considered a factor in causing FLUTD. The main problem was the formulation of commercial pet foods: most pet foods were creating a more alkaline urine (higher pH) which leads to an increase in struvite crystals. Most dry kibble diets are formulated with a high vegetable and grain content which creates a more alkaline urine. An all meat diet such as a cat would eat in nature creates a more acidic urine.
A high protein diet is the best way to maintain a low urinary pH naturally. Cats eating canned diets have fewer problems with FLUTD than those eating primarily dry kibble diets. This is due both to the higher meat content of canned diets as well as the higher moisture content; increased hydration also prevents crystal formation. A frozen raw food diet is ideal for maintaining a lower urinary pH and providing proper hydration. Focusing on low-ash foods will not solve FLUTD problems, but a healthier diet and proper hydration will.
9. Changing formulas or brands of pet foods is hard on your dog's or cat's digestion
A healthy dog or cat can eat a different food at each meal without issue as long asthey are high-quality foods. Holistically minded guardians and veterinarians know that variety is important for several reasons, the most important being to avoid the development of sensitivities to any particular food or protein type. When the same food is fed for many months or years at a time, animals can develop allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients in the food. Plus, many holistic veterinarians believe that feeding the same food for many years is a contributing factor to inflammatory bowel disease.
10. It's fine for dogs and cats to eat each other's food
While there are a few canned formulas available that meet the needs of both species, most foods are designed specifically for cats or dogs. Cats require a higher percentage of protein and fat than most dogs and they have specific requirements for additional taurine. Dogs that eat too much cat food are at risk of weight gain and even pancreatitis. Cats that eat dog food are at risk of weight gain when the food is high in carbohydrates, as well as more likely to develop deficiencies in important amino acids like Taurine.

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