The Truth About Pet Food and Raw Meaty Bones

This post comes to you from guest blogger, Jim McBean:

I just finished reading a blog post over at The Truth About Pet Food blog, here’s the headline of that post, “All 50 U.S. States Give Approval for Illegal Pet Food”. Sounds great eh? :/ The gist of it is, that although there are federal laws in the United States governing what can and can’t go into pet food, the FDA apparently has chosen not to enforce those laws.

Fortunately for them, my little carnivores don’t eat commercial pet food, they eat mainly foods that I buy from local grocery stores, the same stores where I shop for my own food. No, I don’t buy them Shredded Wheat or Kraft Dinner ;), but I do buy them raw meaty bones and offal (organ meats).

Dogs Are Wolves

While there are obvious cosmetic differences between domestic dogs and wild dogs/wolves, as well as behavioral differences, inside, from snout to butt, domestic dogs are wolves. Aside from size differences, the digestive system of domestic dogs are identical to their closest cousin the Gray Wolf. Feeding raw meaty bones, offal and the odd table scrap (meat trimmings, cooked veggies etc.) approximates much more closely the diet of wild dogs, the same foods our dogs and cats evolved to eat.

What is a Raw Meaty Bone?

A raw meaty bone is a completely edible raw bone wrapped in lots of meat. Completely edible bone can include the following, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, fish, rabbit and beef etc. Marrow bones and knuckle bones and other weight bearing bones should be avoided as they are too hard and can break teeth.

Are Raw Meaty Bones Complete and Balanced?

Pet food companies love the phrase “complete and balanced”, unfortunately as much as they’d like us to believe, “complete and balanced” can’t be achieved with a bag of kibble. In fact, no animal in the history of life on earth has ever eaten a “complete and balanced” meal every single day of it’s life. Complete and balanced happens over time, when an animal eats a diet appropriate for its species. Raw meaty bones in the form that nature has dictated, are the most balanced food that our domesticated carnivores can eat.

How Do Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health?

Dr. Tom Lonsdale DVM in his book, Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones, lists three cornerstones as “pillars” of the RMB diet. The first two are applicable to this article, so I’ve included them here.

Cornerstone 1:

Carnivores need the chemical ingredients (nutrients) in broadly the same quantity, quality and frequency as is found in the prey of free living carnivores. (For instance the progenitors of Dogs – Wolves, Cats – Wildcats, Ferrets – Polecats.)

Cornerstone 2:

Carnivores need the physical texture of their food to closely match that of their free living carnivore progenitors. The simple reason being that it’s the physical form of the food that governs the quantity, quality and frequency of teeth cleaning and the correct regulation of passage of foodstuffs down the intestinal tract.

Periodontal Disease

By the age of three, most dogs are already starting to show signs of periodontal disease, and in fact, tooth and gum disease affects 80% of all domestic pets today. Kibble and canned foods are directly responsible for this, as they provide no teeth cleaning action whatsoever. In contrast, raw bone, flesh and connective tissue, scrapes teeth clean and massage and floss gums and teeth, promoting periodontal health.

Keeping periodontal disease at bay is of vital importance because bacteria that forms in the mouth of a dog causing PD will make it’s way into the blood stream where it can then wreak havoc on organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver. How many times have you heard or read about pet owners saying that their kibble fed pet has kidney disease? No you know why and how that happens, and how you can prevent it. Feed raw meaty bones.

Other Benefits of Feeding Raw Meaty Bones

  • smaller stool
  • firmer stool (naturally expresses anal glands)
  • no doggy breath
  • no doggy odor
  • healthier skin and coat
  • easier to maintain normal weight (raw fed dogs tend not to overeat)
  • save money by reducing vet visits

A list of some of the foods my dogs eat;

  • turkey drumsticks
  • turkey necks
  • turkey wings
  • chicken backs
  • chicken leg/back
  • whole chicken
  • cornish game hen
  • whole herring
  • lamb neck
  • pork neck
  • liver (beef or pork)
  • heart (beef or pork)
  • kidney (beef or pork)
  • spleen (pork)
  • green tripe (beef or buffalo)

TIP: Asian markets have an insane variety of meaty bones that are usually very inexpensive. If you have one in your area, it’s definitely worth checking out.

3 Key Principals When Feeding Raw meaty Bones

  1. Always feed RMBs raw
  2. Feed meaty bones in large pieces to ensure maximal cleaning of teeth and gums
  3. Feed RMBs from a variety of animals to ensure a good balance of nutrients

Getting Your Head Around It

Some people have a hard time visualizing how to feed raw meaty bones. I’d recommend doing a Youtube search on ‘dogs and raw meaty bones’ or ‘cats and raw meaty bones’. That will turn up tons of videos of all breeds and sizes of dogs and cats eating all manner of raw meaty bones.

Recommended Reading

Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (This book is a MUST READ for those interested in exploring raw feeding)

Raw Meaty Bones Yahoo Group

Raw Meaty Bones for Healthy Pets

Jim McBean is a dog lover and guardian to a Border Collie named Sweety and an American Pit Bull Terrier named Zeus. Jim blogs about canine health and nutrition with an emphasis on feeding raw meaty bones. To learn more about feeding your pet carnivore a raw meaty bones diet, check out Jim’s blog.

About Stacy @Trupanion

Stacy Kowalchuk is a dog mom to her rescued Whippet-mix, Ellie. During the week, you can find Stacy surfing (the internet, that is) and managing Trupanion's presence in the social media world. In her free time, Stacy likes to bake, especially cupcakes! To balance her culinary affinity, she also likes to stay active, especially with activities that include her dog such as hiking and going to dog parks.

9 Responses to The Truth About Pet Food and Raw Meaty Bones

  1. Michele says:

    Jim, You really are the expert on this topic. It is scary to read food labels. Glad you are educating us on this.

  2. alexa says:

    Feeding raw is ever so important to keeping our dogs healthy… It’s just like feeding them mcdonalds when we given them one of those big brand names.. And we know what that can do to a person! Kudos to you for promoting healthy eating! :)

  3. Liane says:

    1. Dogs are not carnivores. period. Ask any vet with a brain
    2. There is a reason why wolves do not live to be 12 years old. poor nutrition.
    3. Bones are broken teeth waiting to happen.
    4. You really shouldn’t advertise this like you are a doctor. This is not the best diet for dogs.

    • Mark says:

      Actually, what kills many wolves are diseases, infections and parasites as they of course receive no vacinations, no antibiotics, no heartworm preventive, no flea/tick preventative, like domesticated dogs . Domesticated dogs don’t get injured/killed hunting prey that fights back or from fights with other wolves, bears, cougars either. There’s no comparing animals in the wild with those kept in some form of captivity that typically outlive their wild counterparts for many of the same reasons listed. Outside of starvation, animals “natural” diet keeps them healthy.

      • JoeyAf says:

        Cooked bones are ‘Are broken teeth waiting to happen’, not RAW bones. Raw meaty bones are the BEST thing you can give your dog. Until I see dogs cooking their own mushy ‘food’ and harvesting grains no one will convince me otherwise. People that think the ‘pet food’ industry that has emerged over the last 50 years somehow has negated millions of years of evolution are deluded.

    • Scurvydawg says:

      Dogs are not carnivores? That’s an insane statement. You need to use something called Google to easily find out you’re wrong. A Wikipedia search for their article on dog is another easy way to find out you’re wrong. Next you’re going to say that evolution is fake too. Read a book and stop being a troll.

    • Jo says:

      Liane, you should do some research to support your views rather than just trying to get your point across by being insulting. You obviously believe that dogs should eat kibble – do you actually think they’ve evolved in 100 years to eat processed, cooked food?
      To take your points as listed:
      Look at a dogs teeth – they have teeth exactly the same as other carnivores meant for ripping and tearing flesh. Their jaws don’t move side to side for grinding non meat foods.
      If wolves have always been malnourished on their evolutionary diet they wouldn’t have survived as a species – it’s proven that malnutrition interferes with reproductive health.
      Feeding the proper bones, ie: raw, meaty & non bearing, doesn’t cause teeth problems, in fact they act as nature’s toothbrush keeping the teeth clean. On the other hand, chewing rocks and sticks (which many dogs do) can break teeth. I’d be interested in finding stats from vets as to how often they see broken teeth and blockages from those & other items compared to bones.
      At no point did the writer claim to be a doctor. Yes this is the best diet for many dogs.

  4. Liane,

    Point 1: Look up the taxonomy of the domestic dog, and let me know what you find.

    Point 2, See what Mark said.

    Point 3: Any vet with a brain “should know” that wild dogs do not eat the hard weight bearing bones of their preferred prey (ruminants), and only consume the softer, completely edible bones.

    Point 4: I’m not advertising anything, and I assume you meant veterinarian as opposed to doctor?

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