The most obvious – and perhaps most readily understandable by the general public – is the improvement that can be seen in dental hygiene when a dog is changed over to a diet of raw meaty bones. “The abrasion between bone and teeth when chewing is believed to scrape off dental plaque. Cartilage, ligaments, and tendons are thought to act as a natural dental floss. The chewing and tearing action is also believed to strengthen the jaw, neck and shoulder muscles, keep the digestive juice flowing and boost the neurological and immune system.” (Wikipedia, 2011). Basically, bones act as a natural toothbrush, they help prevent tooth and root decay as well as abscesses. (The Daily Puppy, 2008)
But dental hygiene aside, there are many other health benefits for animals switching to raw meaty bones. According to rawlearning.com, people who have changed their dog’s diet to raw have reported a number of improvements including more energy, allergies disappearing, arthritis reducing and in some cases disappearing, better weight management, dogs living longer, and bitches coping with pregnancy better along with a higher survival rate and better weight in puppies.
So let's break it down to what meat and why ...
According to Dr Ian Billinghurst, 1993, chicken is one of the best all-rounders in nutritional benefits when it comes to feeding raw meaty bones. Chicken is a great source of protein and has some great nutritional benefits, containing such minerals and vitamins as - thiamin, zinc and manganese, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium. “The inside of a chicken bone (marrow) is rich in nutrients and surprisingly porous. Raw meaty bones (RMB) are not only great for maintaining oral health, it also provides essential nutrients such as essential fatty acids (EFA's), fat soluble vitamins, enzymes, and the mineral content is in perfect balance (ie, Calcium to Phosphorous ratio).” (They Are What They Eat blog, 2009).
Basically, because bones are living tissue they are a complex source of nutrients, containing all sorts of goodness in the form of minerals, protein and fat soluble vitamins. According to The Daily Puppy, the marrow of these bones also contains a highly nutritious mix of blood forming elements, iron, anti-oxidants, anti-aging elements and enzymes, concluding that bones are full of natural minerals that a dog requires to function normally. In addition, poultry necks and wings also contain natural glucosamine.
Billinghurst asserts that beef, while still of benefit to an animal, contains less vitamin B and is lower in calcium than chicken. However, he says it is an excellent source of readily digestible protein (more so than sheep, chicken or pork) and has less fat, thereby lessening the risk of obesity.
While it has the lowest cholesterol levels, it is low in essential fatty acids. Beef bones are harder than chicken bones and are therefore of more use when it comes to dental hygiene.
According to website nutritiondata.self.com, beef is a good source of Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin C, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Iron, Phosphorus and Selenium.
Interestingly, when comparing kangaroo to beef we find that it is very low in fat and cholesterol but high in protein and iron. “This makes kangaroo meat a very healthy choice. Just as it’s important for humans to be careful of dietary fat intake, so too should be our pets. Too much fat can be just as great a problem for pets as it is for humans.” (www.lowchensaustralia.com, 2008-2009)
Website www.livestrong.com states pork is high in protein and contains each of the 10 amino acids essential to a healthy diet. “The meat contains several B-complex proteins, including vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6 and B-12, and it provides a rich source of niacin, or vitamin B-3. Pork also contains small amounts of vitamin E and choline, two other essential nutrients. Finally, pork loin provides a source of the minerals phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium and sodium, all of which contribute to a healthy diet.” (www.livestrong.com)
Different types of fish have different nutritional value. Livestrong.com states fatty coldwater fish, such as salmon and tuna, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which is good for the heart. It can decrease the risk of abnormal heart rhythm, lower blood cholesterol and slightly lower blood pressure.
Oily fish, such as sardines and salmon contain vitamins A and D – only present in white fish’s liver, says lowchenaustralia.com: “Fish contains most of the essential amino acids; arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threoline and valine. The only essential amino acid not found in significant amounts is tryptophan. Non essential amino acids are also present; cystenic, aspartic, serine, glumatic, proline, glycine, alanini, tyrosine and taurine. Minerals -Phosphorous, fluoride, magnesium, iodine, calcium and potassium are found, while trace elements of iron, zinc and selenium can also be found. Vitamins - Some of the B group is found in fish; thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. The liver of white fish contains vitamins A and D, while these vitamins can also be found in the flesh of oily fish.”
It’s hard to go past the benefits of feeding raw meaty bones. In this case the proof is not in the pudding, but rather the pooch or puss. Leaving the last word to Shamblin, 2010, most raw feeders report healthier dogs, full of energy and vitality: “Our dogs have less illnesses, clean white teeth and fresh breath. Visits to the vet for skin and ear infections and dental cleaning become a thing of the past. We see less year around shedding in our dogs, increased muscle tone and stamina and more mental and physical fitness.”
All The Best Pet Care, Raw Meaty Bones for Dogs (and even cats), 2010 (www.allthebestpetcare.com)
Aussie RMB, 2010 (www.aussiermb.org.au)
Billinghurst, Dr Ian 1993, Give Your Dog A Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs For A Long Healthy Life, Warrigal Publishing, Bathurst, NSW, Australia
Dog Health, 2008-2009 (www.lowchensaustralia.com/health/fish.htm)
5 Star Dog, Dog Food, 2011 (www.5stardog.com)
Hawthorne, Kimberly, 2008, What Bones Can Dogs Eat? (www.dailypuppy.com)
Livestrong.com, 2011 (www.livestrong.com/article/427309-nutrition-in-a-4-oz-raw-pork-loin/)
Pet Health Core, The Nutritional Value of a Raw Dog Food Diet, May 21, 2011, (www.pethealthcore.info)
Pet Synergy, Overview of Nutrition for Dogs and Cats, 2010 (www.petsynergy.com)
Raw Learning, 2009 (www.rawlearning.com)
Raw Meaty Bones, 2007 (www.rawmeatybones.com)
Self Nutrition Data, 2008 (nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/666/2#ixzz1R08bPnYF)
Shalako, Schipperkes, The Raw Diet, 2006 (www.shalako.com)
Shamblin, Rooster, Feeding Your Dog A Raw Chicken Diet Like I Do, 2010 (roostershamblin.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/feeding-your-dog-a-raw-chicken-diet-like-i-do/)
They Are What They Eat, blog, 2009 (theyarewhattheyeat.blogspot.com/2009/05/raw-chicken.html)
United Kingdom Raw Meaty Bones Support and Action Group, Why Should You Feed Your Pet Raw Meaty Bones?, 2009 (ukrmb.co.uk)