GIVE YOUR DOG A BONE!
My dogs visited Windmill Vets in Winslow for the regular vaccines and the vet commented how beautiful their teeth were. I said that this is because they eat raw meaty bones regularly. Some people think that raw bones are bad for dogs. There is a myth – promoted by the pet food industry – that the only food suitable for dogs is manufactured food, such as canned, dried, pouched, treats, ie fake bones!
Of course dogs love the real thing and you’ve seen images of dogs drooling over bones. At school we cover biology and learn, of course, that dogs are carnivores. Despite this, we allow ourselves to be brainwashed by clever advertising. Processed dog food is bad for dogs on all sorts of grounds – it is cooked, it usually contains lots of grains, even the expensive stuff uses poor quality meat, it is packed for of preservatives – I could go on and on. The worst failing, however, is that no matter how hard the manufacturers try to replicate the goodness of a natural diet, it can’t match the benefits offered by a raw meaty bone.
IN THE WILD DOGS EAT THEIR PREY, BONES AND ALL:
Nature knows best. For dogs this means eating small prey, or hunting in a pack to share a larger prey. They are thrifty too. Nothing is wasted and that includes the bones. Initially, this are ripped, torn, chewed and sucked to remove all the meat and marrow. Then they are gnawed, crunched and (if small enough) eaten whole.
There has been some fantastically interesting research in Australia proving this in which scientists studied the insides of hundreds of wild dogs. One study was a chap called S J O Whitehouse (Austrialian Wildlife Research magasine 1983). Hundreds of dogs were examined across a wide geographical area. The results were conclusive not only on the bone issue, by the way, but also on other dietary preferences. No wild dog ever eats grain (note there is more research available on the same topic including detailed studies by Neville Buck who studied a wide range of dogs and wolves at Howletts and Port Lympne Zoological Parks in the UK).
BONES ARE PACKED FULL OF VITAL NUTRIENTS:
It is easy to understand why the dog wants the meat and marrow, but what makes the bone itself so desirable? The answer is that bones contain a huge number of nutrients that are vital to your dog’s health. These include:
- Minerals including calcium and phosphorous
- Protein containing essential amino acids including lysine
- Essential fatty acids
- Fat soluble vitamins (A, D and E)
- Blood forming nutrients (in the marrow) including copper and iron
BONES KEEP TEETH HEALTHY
Bones are nature’s toothbrushes. By allowing your dog to chew on raw, meaty bones you ensure that they keep their teeth clean, avoid decay and that their gums stay healthy. This will mean they won’t develop some of the nasty oral diseases to which many dogs on processed food are prone. It will also mean they are sweeter breath.
You may be interested to know that a growing number of vets believe that there is a close connection between oral health and general health. One vet dentist who has studied this is Dr Gary Beard who is based at Auburn University in Alabama. In 1991 he wrote a paper pointing out that heart failure, renal failure and other serious diseases in dogs could be a direct result of poor oral hygiene. Another vet Dr Richard Hamlin of Ohio State University proposed that diseases of the heart, liver and lungs could be caused this way.
BONES ARE GREAT EXERCISE AND HELP WITH MENTAL HEALTH
Having two labs I know how much they look forward to their meals! Sometimes they eat too fast and ask for more food. This is because they require the mental stimulation that goes with eating bones. Bones give my dogs great exercise. It strengthens their jaws and upper body. It is a sort of mini-workout for them. You will also find that chewing bones keeps your dog happily occupied for hours!
WHERE DO I FIND RAW MEATY BONES?
From your local butcher (when you go to buy meat for your Sunday roast et al). Elliott at Padbury butchers is very accommodating. I have also given my dogs raw chicken carcasses from here. Chicken carcasses are fine as long as they are raw as the bones are soft.