Did You Know?
Calcium deficiency is a big problem with commercially-fed dogs; one that contributes to health problems like hip and elbow dysplasia.
A nursing pup gets a good and balanced supply of calcium from his mother’s milk. But once weaned, he depends on his humans to provide it in a form that is easily assimilated and provides nutritional balance.
Commercial food claims to provide sufficient calcium, yet cases of hip and elbow dysplasia, common to domesticated dogs, are not known to wolves in the wild. The difference points to diet. Raw and unprocessed bones are nature’s perfect dietary calcium source. Plus, the meat that comes with them gives the potassium needed to metabolize the calcium.
For healthy bone-development in a pup, quality calcium and potassium must be ingested in a 1:1 ratio; erring on the side of more calcium, but not less. Excess protein in relation to calcium causes an imbalance which results poor bone development.
About Raw Meaty Bones…
Raw meaty bones (RMBs) provide dogs with terrific nutrition including an abundance of top quality (easily assimilated) calcium, and a good supply of potassium.
If, on the other hand, a dog gets his nutrition from a processed diet – let’s say a high-protein kibble product – the calcium and potassium must be carefully balanced in order to meet basic needs. This is because, according to clinical tests by Australian vet and raw food expert, Dr Ian Billinghurst, a dog’s own natural ability to balance calcium intake is somehow short-circuited when fed “fake industrial food” (FIF). This tends to result in a calcium deficiency, due to one or more of the following: Poor quality ingredients that the body cannot properly metabolize, inadequate quantities, or an improper calcium/potassium ratio.
But with nature’s food, as in the case of RMBs the dog automatically assimilates the calcium it needs, while rejecting any excess. In addition, as long as the bones have meat on them, sufficient potassium will come as part of the package.
Move Towards Quality, but be Easy on Yourself
Much of life is compromise, for good intentions are often harder to execute than to conceive! The concept of raw food (link) for dogs is a simple one. And the appeal of its inherent natural, quality ingredients, once understood, is obvious. However, actually providing raw food for our dogs requires both money and effort, when compared to the relative economy and convenience of processed foods.
The key is to do what we reasonably can within the constraints life puts upon us.
So we must count the cost in money and time. Yet, the question of whether to continue with a commercial diet, or switch to a raw one, does not have to be the all-or-nothing proposition implied. The key is to do what we reasonably can within the constraints life puts upon us.
Not so many years ago, in terms of the long history of companion dogs, owners would regularly toss bones to their dogs. Also, not so many years ago, there were many fewer cases of elbow and hip dysplasia amongst domesticated dogs. We see here an important connection.
A Win-Win Compromise
Virtues of a RMB Household
Many people write to us at German Shepherd Place who are wrestling with the question of whether or not to go with a raw diet for their dogs. So we witness first-hand the challenges and sometimes frustrations involved in trying to do the best thing for our GSDs. And this has led me to the conclusion that for many of us the commonsense approach may be to take a step in the right direction, one which may or may not be a bridge to a bigger change down the road. So here is my suggestion, which just-for-fun I’m naming the Raw Lite Prescription:
Raw Lite Prescription!
The prescription comes in 5 parts. It is intended to help insure a good calcium and potassium intake, and as a bonus it will help promote sparkling teeth, and provide a moderate physical workout:
• Give your dog a raw meaty bone
• Watch for him or her to wag, slobber and crunch with delight
• Repeat once or twice a week
• Observe health benefits
• Feel good that you did something great for your dog, and it didn’t cost you the world
By following this simple prescription you’ll make a significant impact on your dog’s health and life-quality. He’ll love the treat and be healthier for it.
Bare Bones Shopping Guide
Raw versus cooked: Cooked and raw are not the same. Keep the bones raw. That way, all the nutritional value will remain intact. Plus, you’ll not be subjecting your dog to the dangers of internal injury from the splintering effects in some cooked bones, notably those of chickens.
Type of Bones
Many types of bones can be used. But some of the best, and most readily available are chicken backs, beef ribs, knuckle bones and turkey necks. The latter are particularly good, being natures “toothbrush”. With turkey necks, teeth-scrubbing accompanies the crunching. Ox tails would have a similar effect.
I would recommend in closing, that you read our article, Raw Food Diets for Dogs, if you are new to the concept. It addresses many common concerns, including matters of food safety, and tips on handling.
In writing this post I drew on a series of articles by Dr Ian Billinghurst, published in the July, September and November issues of Dogs Naturally Magazine. By special arrangement, we have been able to get a 30-day free trial for our readers, and a discount if you subscribe after that! To take advantage of these offers, click www.DogsNaturallyMagazine.com.