Raw Meaty Bones – you are what you eat! How and why you should be feeding a Species Appropriate Diet
to your canine friends Please read this page before reading the other articles!
© Marcelle King 2002-6
I am contacted by many people about the Raw Meaty Bone diet. I prefer not to call it BARF – although this is the word people associate with the natural diet, to be correct is should be Raw Meaty Bones and Raw Food (RMBARF??). We prefer BARF to stand for ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’! I’m more than happy to help anyone feed his or her animals more healthily. It often appears that owners seem to think that this is a ‘new diet’ – rather like changing to any one of several feeding regimes! IT IS NOT! It is taking your animals (who are carnivores) back to nature – back to feeding what their species existed on for thousands of years! It is not a ‘diet’ per se – it is what nature intended them to eat. The reason nature gave them the teeth and strong jaws that they have is for killing, ripping, tearing and crushing, and they have a gut capable of digesting raw meaty bones. Some people think that now their pets are domesticated, they can no longer eat raw meaty bones. In that case their teeth would have changed. They haven't! Don’t think only of dogs and cats living in modern day countries – they exist in every corner of the world. Although the veterinary care and pampering we give our animals may not be what it is in other countries, the wild dogs and cats live off the land and off scraps from the villages, and are far healthier than your modern day pet with stinking breath, brown teeth and smelly skin, etc. If domestication really did change the diet required by pet cats and dogs – then why not feed your pet parrot, budgie or rabbit on pizza or egg and chips? The whole concept of feeding your pets a 'processed diet’, whether dried, tinned or frozen meat and biscuit, came about because manufacturers and pet food companies realised there was niche in the market. Over the last 30 years or so umpteen different pet food companies (and branches of large corporate companies) have sprung up – it seems almost on a daily basis. You are led to believe that one needs to be a vet, nutritionist or a rocket scientist to feed your cats and dogs – and they kindly do all this for you. WRONG! There's no way that our pets (or us) need a ‘balanced and complete diet’ every day, although of course a food that is supposed to supply all that your pet needs couldn’t possibly be sold any other way. It is used as a marketing ploy – you could hardly be expected to buy seven bags of dried food, a different one for every day of the week! We don’t sit down to a plate of food containing every vitamin and mineral required every day – we balance our diets over a period of days or weeks. The same goes for dogs and cats – they can eat a fresh killed whole rabbit, which is nature’s 'complete meal'! But they will also seek out other plants, herbs and prey when they feel they need those particular nutrients. ‘Balanced and complete diets’ are purely for the financial benefit of those who manufacturer them. They play on the fact that we live in an ‘instant’ society – where convenience is everything. Advertisement upon advertisement will have you thinking that this food does this, or that food does that. It is brainwashing pure and simple! These days the manufacturers list more ingredients that AREN’T in the food than those that are. In many cases the ingredients aren’t listed at all. What are 'animal and vegetable derivatives' for instance?
The tinned foods (and those multi-coloured so called 'complete foods') are designed to appeal to you, the purchaser, of course. A successful marketing ploy – but what is this stuff doing to your pets? There are foods containing the words ‘science', 'organic', 'natural', 'holistic' and 'health’ – but they all have one thing in common – they are cooked, processed and contain far too much carbohydrate (not a food often eaten by carnivores!). Now you are thinking "but the animals survive on these foods don’t they?" Yes, they exist but they do not live long, healthy disease-free lives. Cats often fair better as they go outside and catch appropriate prey to supplement their diets – if they are lucky they eat whole mice, birds, rats, rabbits and squirrels. Quite often though the cat fed at home will kill the prey but not eat it, as they aren’t hungry enough! Dogs on the other hand are normally maintained on 'this or that processed food' alone – and suffer the consequences. Feeding pets on this stuff on a daily basis is equivalent to you and your family eating ‘Pot Noodles’ every day – you wouldn’t die, but certainly you wouldn’t enjoy a long and healthy life! Recently I was shocked to read the label on a canned product for ‘Senior’ dogs that stated it was for dogs aged '5 years of age and over’. I don’t consider my dogs are old until they are about 12 – and even then they aren’t ancient! Sad fact is that dogs fed on processed food probably age more rapidly as their body is not receiving the fresh and appropriate diet needed to keep the immune system healthy and to prevent the ageing process by rejuvenating new cells. Before I became aware of the alternative (raw, meaty bones) for 15 years I fed my poor dogs and cats on processed food. And boy – one food after another caused one problem after another. Since changing them all over to a raw, meaty bone diet, I can honestly say I have had no vet’s bills at all associated with any health problems! Ask yourself if your animals are suffering from any of the following:
- Dental problems – do you need to clean your dog or cat’s teeth? Remember all those bacteria in the mouth are being swallowed and are getting into the internal organs!
- Glazed eyes? Not bright shiny, healthy eyes but looking like they are ‘on something’!
- Does roughly the same amount of food come out one end that went in the other? If so, then it isn’t being properly digested and less nutrients are available to the body!
- Are their faeces often slimy? That's colitis!
- Hyperactivity? This is often associated with colourants and flavourings. I’ve known some dogs become aggressive that were previously sweet natured because of the food they were eating!
- Skin conditions – itchy skin, red skin, eczema (wet and dry), body odour? A whole host of skin conditions are caused by food allergies – usually to the cereal carbohydrates in the diet.
- Greasy coat, dry coat and/or scurfy?
If your pets are displaying any of these symptoms you should seriously start questioning whether you are feeding a suitable diet. And there are a whole host of other afflictions associated with diet, such as kidney/bladder stones, arthritis, diabetes and so on. Of course, when your pet falls ill the manufacturers can suggest a specially developed ’special diet’ to help put right what feeding ‘processed food’ caused in the first place! And so it goes on . . . But today increasing numbers of people are questioning this use of processed, convenience pet foods and are switching to the Raw Meaty Bone diet. It is easy to feed one or two animals by purchasing the raw meaty bones from a butcher or local supermarket. For those with more animals it is fairly easy to find a catering/wholesale butcher to supply your needs. Some pet food companies are now selling raw wings, carcasses, necks and so on. I must say that I am less happy about the companies that are now jumping onto the ‘Raw Meaty Bone’ bandwagon – and processing raw/freeze dried/cooked diets to fill this gap! The BARF (raw meaty bones and raw food) diet I have written about on the following pages was written for those that feel they want to know all the ins and outs. When I started to feed my dogs the raw diet I added a whole variety of foods. So, it includes a list of the various foods that can be used as part of the diet. For the last 5 years I have simplified what I feed my dogs and cats with no obvious differences. I write this as it is a subject I have researched very thoroughly over very many years, and have very strong feelings about the improvement of dogs’ health. If I can help just one more dog be healthier and happier for longer, then I’ll be happy too! What I feed: My dogs are fed 80% raw meaty bones (not marrow bones); the other 20% comes from raw offal, raw veggie pulp and scraps. Those scraps can include raw egg yolk, pasta, rice, yoghurt, cottage cheese or whatever is available. There's no need to make yourself a slave to the diet – in a short time it’ll become second nature to you. IMPORTANT: It recently came to light that some smaller breed dogs, and particularly greedy smaller dogs could/would swallow bones whole. It is advised with all dogs that you feed as large a piece of raw meaty bone as possible – the larger the piece, the more ripping, crunching and tearing they have to do and less chance of gulping something down whole. You can feed whole chickens (I often do), lamb necks and ribs, rabbits and so on. Then remove the food when you think the animal has eaten enough.
BACCHUS AGED 14+
My ‘once in a lifetime dog’, a grey Tervueren by the name of ‘Bacchus’, had suffered a lifetime of food allergies, had the breath from hell and was getting very stiff in the joints. He was only 9 years old. Around that time I’d lost a home-bred puppy from OCD in all six front joints – although this disease has a hereditary basis, like HD it is polygenic with environmental influences. I was sure diet had something to do with it! A friend had received a copy of the Dr Ian Billinghurst book – the newly published ‘Give Your Dog A Bone’! Having flicked through it, I bought myself a copy and read, re-read and read again! Eureka – at last something that made perfect sense! That was it – my lot were all converted to eating raw meaty bones that very day! Bacchus became like a young puppy again, his teeth and breath took on the smell of roses (well not quite!), and he went on to live to over 15 years of age and literally died of old age.
The older dogs vomited for a couple of days during the change over – but this is because the stomach is a muscle. With nothing much to do over the years of digesting slop, it loses it’s efficiency, and I think the same goes for the digestive juices! Anyway, by day 3 or 4 they were fine and starting to look so much healthier. So impressed was I, that I bought a whole bunch of books to give to my friends, including another "must-read" on the subject, Dr Tom Lonsdale's Raw Meaty Bones. Visit Tom's website at www.rawmeatybones.com. Tom has recently produced a new book, ‘Works Wonders’. I really recommend you read this book – it includes all you need to know about feeding raw, meaty bones. Available from http://www.ukrmb.co.uk.
The diet is extremely cheap too (not that that was a consideration), and now I know exactly what my dogs have to eat! Or as exactly as any of us know what we are eating. Sure, when I handed them their first raw chicken wing, I waited by the phone to call the vet! Now, I feel the same way if they have contact with dog food – believe me!
I’ve fed my own dogs and puppies this diet for 12 years now – everyone from our little Pomeranian to the largest hound. No problems at all, ever!
Before I fed this diet my dogs suffered a multitude of health problems, not least skin diseases, digestive problems and allergies. Also I had to clean my dogs’ teeth then, but they were never white. Now I don’t need to clean their teeth, yet they are pearly white with pink gums! Just remember, all that bacteria accumulating on the teeth gets into the blood stream, which in turn affects every organ in the body and compromises the immune system, causing who knows how many diseases.
MAGGIE SHOWING HER
WHITER THAN WHITE TEETH
I have reared three litters of Tervueren on the BARF diet – and insisted the puppies continued with it. These have been the healthiest puppies ever, with none of the problems we’d experienced in the past. Puppies develop much better with food to chew at, rip at and tear at – they have much more muscle development of the jaw, neck, shoulder and back legs. They also appear much calmer, and of course are much more pleasant to clear up after. It is not necessary to force young dogs to grow quickly by pouring bucket loads of artificial calcium down their throats. Depending on the breed, this may make them look more mature in the show ring at an earlier age, but it isn’t natural and may be the reason for long term joint problems. Whilst they can be classed as omnivores, dogs’ teeth are those of a carnivore – they haven’t changed for at least 12,000 years (some breeds can be traced back to 1200 BC), and neither have their digestive systems. Dogs can still breed with wolves and produce puppies, and survive on freshly killed and caught rabbits, birds, deer etc. They don’t pick the flesh from the bones. Also, if as much is coming out of one end as goes in the other, then the food is not being digested properly is it? On the raw, meaty bone diet very little comes out the other end, and it is inoffensive and does not attract flies! Carbohydrates (cooked cereals) are not a natural diet for a canine – they are used these days to bulk foods out. It is these cereals that so often cause skin allergies, not to mention a multitude of other health problems including temperament problems! Yes, inoculations have reduced the incidence of death by distemper, parvovirus etc, so why aren’t dogs living longer ‘healthier’ lives? As for tinned food – it is made to appeal to the owner with chunks resembling steak in gravy – have you never questioned what is REALLY in the can? Read the ingredients, they tell you nothing. If it was full of tasty meat, it would be listed as an ingredient AND there would be pictures of said animals on the tin, wouldn’t there? It is what you eat ‘most’ of the time that is important! Would you live a long and healthy life by eating a bowl of the same dried, processed food day in, day out? Only cats and dogs are made to eat this way – all other pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, donkeys, horses, birds, mice, etc.) must eat a ‘species appropriate diet’, and even though it can be dried cereals and seeds, the daily diet must be supplemented with fresh food daily. Canine/feline dentistry has become a huge growth industry in the veterinary field. Don’t give your dog a bone they cry (sure, cooked bones are a different story), but DO subject it to the risk of anaesthetic to have its teeth cleaned! The PROS: Long-lived, healthy dogs with clean teeth, sweet breath, gleaming coat and strong developed muscles. Proven reduced vets’ bills. Tiny, smell-free doggy dos to clear up. Reduced feeding costs. Control over what your dog eats. The CONS: Takes a little more commitment. Dogs might need to be separated when eating bones (mine don’t – too busy eating!). © Marcelle King 2002-6