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Raw Meaty Bones for Dogs and Cats

At the moment there is an ongoing campaign by the UK Raw Meaty Bones Group lead by Tom Lonsdale to promote the feeding of raw meat and bones to carnivores (cats and dogs) kept as pets.

I have read the UK Raw Meaty Bones website and although I agree with some of Mr Lonsdale's views I do take a slightly more balanced view. The diet endorsed by the UKRMB website involves feeding cats and dogs exclusively with non-processed food. This to a large extent involves feeding RAW meat and bones from chicken, lamb, pigs, cattle etc together with offal, fish and a small amount of vegetable. It is important to understand that bones should be fed with the meat to provide a balanced diet. This type of diet is what nature intended for carnivores but some people may not wish to feed their pet in this way or their pet may not cope with it very well. If this is the case for you then a good quality commercial diet may be best for you and your pet. As with many other issues it is important to take a balanced view and treat each animal and set of circumstances individually. I do have to point out here that I have seen many animals fed on many different diets and those fed on raw meat or a good quality commercial diet do seem to be more healthy in general than those fed on poor quality commercial diets.

Nature intended cats and dogs to eat raw meat; there is no getting away from this fact. They are carnivores designed to hunt, catch and eat other animals. This would provide for their nutritional needs in the wild. They would probably eat carrion and insects as well as a small amount of plant material as part of their total natural diet. Partially digested plant material would also be ingested when carnivores consumed the intestines of their prey. It is sensible to assume that animals fed on a diet with which they have evolved would be more healthy than those fed on other types of food. I therefore would agree that the feeding of raw meaty bones would probably be
beneficial for most carnivorous pets. If a balanced diet of non-processed food is given to pets they will probably be very healthy and this type of diet may well be cheaper than buying commercial pet food.

The Raw Meaty Bones movement endorses the feeding of whole poultry or rabbit carcasses, poultry by-products such as heads and feet, fish, pieces of goat, sheep, calf, pig or deer carcasses sawn into large chunks containing meat and bone, offal such as liver, lungs or tripe. Take care if you feed large marrow bones as animals may chip or crack their teeth on these.

If you decide to try this type of diet I would suggest that you try to find good quality organic meat. (I believe that we should all try to support small, organic, welfare friendly farms rather than big commercial producers). Bones should be fed raw. If they are cooked, small bones such as chicken and lamb may splinter and cause damage to the intestines.

The raw meaty bones website indicates that it is fine to feed raw meat frozen or "ripe" (which I presume means unfresh) to dogs (not cats) but I would endorse defrosting food before feeding and feeding fresh meat suitable for human consumption.

It may be difficult for older animals or those with misshapen jaws or abnormal teeth to cope with a raw meat and bones diet. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs or bulldogs have abnormally shaped jaws and may suffer from malocclusion of the teeth. They may be unsuitable candidates for a raw meat and bones diet.

Great care should be taken with liver. Feeding liver in excessive quantities can cause disease, especially in cats. Make liver an occasional treat not a major component of the diet. The major part of the diet should be meat and bone, not offal.

If fish are used in the diet it is wise to feed a variety of species. Some fish such as carp contain an enzyme which destroys vitamin B1 (Thiamine). Also some fish such as salmon may contain harmful pollutants from the environment.

Dogs should be fed a varied diet and some table scraps and vegetables are OK as a small component of the overall diet. Cats are obligate carnivores and should not have much vegetable matter in their diet at all.

It should be mentioned that the feeding of raw meat may make your pet more likely to contract pathogens such as Salmonella and E.coli etc as well as parasites such as Ecchinococcus. This is an indisputable fact and must be considered if you are going to feed your pet this type of diet. Animals fed on bones may sometimes choke or suffer from impactions. I believe it is irresponsible if these facts are not pointed out, although a raw meaty bones diet may still be best for your pet.

In general I support the Raw Meaty Bones movement as I am convinced that a natural (non-processed) diet is best for animals.

Never feed your dog or cat cooked bones.
If you feed raw meat to your pet(s) then you should deworm them regularly.
If you feed raw meat you should take good care with hygiene to prevent disease.


Reference:
UK Raw Meaty Bones Website www.rawmeatybones.com

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