NATURAL DIET
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<<I thought chicken bones were very dangerous in that they splinter into shards and can slice and/or puncture the mouth, throat, and intestines.  Is that correct, or an old wives' tale?>>

Post 1 of 3:

Well, yes and no. COOKED chicken bones are extremely dangerous.  Cooking makes them hard, brittle and indigestible to your dog.  Raw chicken bones are much softer. The neck is the softest of all and works like a toothbrush/gum stimulator for your dog. Pork bones are a no-no, cooked or raw.  Some people give dogs raw beef marrow bones; some say they wear down enamel; some just give knuckle bones.

Your dog has sharp teeth and strong jaw muscles developed over millions of years of evolution to eat meaty bones and fresh food, not crunchy bits of baked carbohydrate (kibble).

Yes, after a lot of research and thought, I feed my dog raw chicken wings and other parts.  I wouldn't say it's without risk.  But I think the risks involved with eating a completely artificial diet are a lot higher. Imagine all of a sudden being switched to a diet of nothing but dried seaweed, just because it's cheap, plentiful, and easy to store. Would you be healthy?

If you want to know more, there were several links on this subject. 

Bones of Contention
Dr Tom Lonsdale's Raw
Meaty Bones

The second one is an outstanding site done by a vet with papers from vet journals on the subject of diet and it's effects on the dog's overall health.  I highly recommend it.

Irene in Montreal, AgGryphon@aol.com

Post 2 of 3

The dangers of feeding bones is in COOKING them.  They become more brittle when cooked and this is when you run into problems.   I Feed my dogs on a diet of raw chicken necks (2each) AM and then bil-jac (FROZEN,Natural) PM.  This varies from time to time as I add liver or ground beef for variety and different nutrients they carry. They also get cottage cheese, yogurt, veggies and fruit.  Once a week I give each a RAW soup bone (beef leg bone cut to 2" thickness) for them to chew and enjoy.  Since the regimine of bones began , all tartar that I had seen forming on their teeth has since disappeared and that means NO DENTALS/NO ANESTHESIA!  I can dig THAT!.

I am very pleased with the results I am seeing with the more natural feeding in changes in their skin, haircoats, teeth and over all demeanor also. They just seem more content and happy. Since I quit feeding kibbles, I also notice two of my girls who were prone to itchies have quit itching all together. No feet chewing or anything.

I plan to attend Dr Billinghurst's seminar in my area in October to learn more about natural feeding and be sure that I am giving them all they need. That is part of the reason I still use the frozen Bil-Jac. It is processed food but not cooked or preserved with chemicals.

Another note: with my rescues, they also get the benefit of the natural stuff and I have seen VAST improvements in these neglected/abused dogs....many who are malnourished or have medical problems.

Chris Kemper, Shangri-La M S
N E FLA Schnauzer Rescue

Post 3 of 3:

Our dogs are on the BARF diet and have been for about six months. What a wonderful difference in their coats, their dispositions, energy level, everything.  There are certain bones I wouldn't leave them alone with either, but knuckle bones, particularly from veal or lamb are just great.  They grind away on them and they're soft enough not to damage their teeth.  Our dogs don't have one speck of tartar on their teeth, even after whelping. I'd been told that after puppies their teeth would be brown and yucky, but ours are as white as can be.

We give them raw chicken backs and necks and chicken wings at least three times a week as part of their diet, but these are not comfort food.  I supervise this even after all this time.  The knuckle bones are comfort food.  If we have to leave them in the trailer (like at the wedding) or at home for longer than usual we always give them a piece of knuckle bones - not necessarily a whole big one.  I try and get my butcher to cut them into manageable chunks.

One other advantage to raw bones is that anal gland problems completely disappear.  All bones of course must be raw - never, ever cooked.

regards, Marilynn
mjack@wave.home.com

A collection of thoughts on starting a natural diet from the K9 Nutrition List:

**First read up on natural diets, what kinds of bones to use, how much to feed, etc. Keep these books on hand for future reference:
"Natural Health for Dogs and Cats" by Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM
"Give Your Dog a Bone" and "Grow Your Pups with Bones" by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, DVM. These are complete guides and answer many questions you might have. 
**If your dog has been eating a kibble-based diet only, it is generally recommended that you start your dogs on probiotic powder and digestive enzymes first.  Dog foods do not contain these, and they are excellent for help in digestion of fresh foods when you are first starting.