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We hope you enjoy browsing on our new Web site on Beauceron and Manchester Terrier and that you will find lots of useful information .


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Feeding Meat to Your Dog



In this chapter I explore the role of meat as part of a balanced diet for dogs.  There is not really a lot to know.  In short, meat supplies high quality protein.  The best way to feed it to a dog is raw, on the bone, as already described.  However , people ask me lots of questions about meat, so I shall start talking about it by answering a few of those questions.


Is Meat Good Food for Dogs ?

Yes, because dogs are carnivores, it is totally natural for them to eat meat, it is an excellent source of high class protein.  However, even though it is excellent as part of their diet, let me stress that if meat forms the whole of a dog’s diet, or most of it, the dog will eventually become sick.  This brings me to the next question …


Can My Dog Survive on Meat Alone ?

When I tell people that commercial dog food is sub-standard canine fare, and is causing their dog'’ many health problems, they commonly ask, ‘’does that mean we should just feed our dog meat ?’’

The answer is of course NO.  A meat-only diet is highly unnatural and highly unbalanced.  It is in fact one of the common feeding errors I have already spoken about in Chapter 4.  You will recall that raw meat is deficient in a number of essential nutrients including calcium, iodine, and vitamin C, and by itself would give a dog too much phosphorus and protein.

  • An all or largely meat diet fed to an adult dog over a lifetime, with it’s excessive protein and phosphorus will eventually cause chronic kidney disease, together with numerous other problems resulting from it’s many nutrient deficiencies.
  • For a growing puppy, the calcium and iodine deficiencies cause immediate bone and growth problems.  These surface in as little as two weeks.  An all meat diet was the most popular way to wreck puppies, particularly their bones, about fifteen years ago in Australia, but is less common these days.

Other frequent question are as follows.


Should Meat be Cut up of Left in Large Lumps?

Meat off the bone should definitely be left in large lumps.  It is far better for dogs to have to rip and tear and chew the meat.

Some people become concerned when a dog regurgitates a large lump of meat.  However, resist the temptation to remove it from your dog.  Watch while your dog either chews it a little more thoroughly, or swallows it whole again more carefully, more slowly.


Is it  Essential for Dogs to Eat meat ?

Definately not.  Your dog might be a carnivore, but he or she being an omnivore, can quite happily exist without meat.  In fact, if your dog does eat meat, it should only form a small part of the over-all diet.  Dogs have not evolved to eat muscle meat as the major part of their diet.  The muscle meat eaten by wild dogs forms a small part of a diet that consists of a wide variety of other foods, including a lot of bone.


Should My Dog’s Meat be Cooked or Raw ?

For your dog’s sake, the meat should be raw.  Raw meat has all the benefits of raw foods as discussed in chapter two.

Dogs have always eaten it that way.  Raw meat is one of the foods your dog’s body is designed to use.  Cooked meat is not.  Raw meat has innumerable health promoting advantages.  Cooked meat given long term promotes failing health.

  • Over-cooking meat decreases protein digestability and destroys essential amino acids such as lysine and methionince.  A common example is poorly processed pet food, particularly dry dog foods.  here it is common for over-cooking to make a poor quality product even worse.

Cooking can appear to have advantages.  It can help to remove fat, but is it worth it when you can use a knife ?  Also, the mineral levels in meat cooked on the bone are higher than in raw meat because they leach out into the meat from the bone.  However, a dog is far better to eat the meat AND the bone – raw.  That way your dog has access to ALL the minerals.

  • IMPORTANT – read Chapter 9 which deals with the desease HYDATIDOSIS which can be transmitted from dogs to man via raw meat.

A lot of people tell me they will not feed raw meat to their dog because it will encourage their dog to take baits.  Unfortunately, many a poisoned dog has been killed by poison placed in cooked meat and other cooked food.


What Nutrients are in Meat ?


Meat Supplies Protein.

That is it’s major role in nutrition.  It also supplies varying amounts of fat, water, and some vitamins and minerals.  Because it supplies fat and protein, it also supplies energy.


That is, it contains all the ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS necessary for dogs of all ages, including growing puppies, and of course desexed-living-at-home-not-doing-very-much-dogs.

The protein is of high quality because it is very DEGESTIBLE in contrat to the protein from vegetable sources which is much less available for your dog.

Chicken and pork, the white meats are somewhat lower in protein content than sheep and beef.  Beef has the highest out of these four.


Meat Supplies Fat

The fat in different types of meat varies in the level of essential fatty acids present.  Chicken and pork have the highest levels while lamb and beef are both low.  Lamb usually contains more essential fatty acids than beef, but only because it has more fat.


Meat Supplies Water

Lean young meat in 70% - 75% water, with the rest being mostly protein.  Meat from older animals contains less water.  Note that canned dog food contains on average, more than 80% water.


Meat Supplies Energy

There are no carbohydrates in meat.  That is, no starch or sugar or fibre.  As the fat content rises, the percentage of water drops and so does the protein.  As the fat content of the meat rises so does the energy it can supply your dog.  For example, a lean piece of meat weighing 100 gm will contain about 400 to 450 kj of energy.  If that same weight of meat consisted of 30 percent fat, it would supply three times as much energy.

That extra energy is great if your dog is working hard.  If not, it will cause obesity.


Meat Supplies Minerals

  • Raw meat is low in sodium and high in potassium.

This is good news for older dogs with heart problems.  The meat with the lowest sodium is beef, with pork being fairly low.  The meat with the highest potassium is pork, with chicken having the lowest potassium levels.

This makes lean pork a good all round meat for heart patients, particularly in view of the high levels of the amino acid Taurine present in pork.  Taurine is essential for normal heart function.

  • Both beef and sheep meat are relatively well endowed with zinc, making them good foods for dogs with a deficiency of zinc.
  • Unfortunately chicken has low zinc levels.  Pork has more zinc than chicken but not as much as sheep and beef.
  • Of the meats, beef is probably the best source of iron, with sheep next, then pork, with chicken coming last.  If your dog is consuming whole raw chicken wings it is getting iron from the bone marrow.


Meat is NOT a Complete Food

It is valuable to know what meat does not supply.  Meat is deficient in some of the B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iodine, copper, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin D.

Pork no vitamin A at all.  Chicken fat has more vitamin A than any of the others, with beef coming second and sheep having very little.  The general lack of vitamin A in meat is easily remedied with either a vitamin A supplement such as cod liver oil, or some liver once a week.

Pork has the best levels of vatamins B1, 2, and 3, with chicken having the lowest.

So far as cholesterol is concerned, chicken has the highest levels, with beef having the lowest.  Pork and sheep are intermediate for cholesterol.

  • Unless you have a reason to know the above details, forget about them.  The reason I include them is to help you realise the importance of feeding a wide variety of meats to your dog.  That is, feed some of each … not all at once, at different times will be fine.  By doing that you will ensure a better balance of all those various nutrients present at different levels in different types of meat.


In minced Meat any Good for My Dog ?

Minced meat is not natural, so that in most instances it is less valuable than meat fed whole – on the bone.

Firstly, all the physical benefits are lost.  That is, meat that has been minced means no ripping, tearing, chewing, teeth cleaning, gum massage etc.

The other problem is, unless you minced the meat yourself, you really have no idea what is in it.  You do not know what ingredients were used, and you do not know what chemicals have been added.  You have lost control over your dog’s food.

Unless you minced in yourself.  You also have no idea of the original state of the meat, and whether it was prepared hygienically.  Particularly mince sold as pet food.

Having said that, let me add that problems caused by contamination are not common because of a dog’s natural ability to eat bacteria-laden food.  When problems occur, it is usually the very young and the very old or the already sick.  That is, animals whose immunity is not working one hundred percent effectively.

Minces meat is of value however when changing diets.  The new minced-up diet is thoroughly mixed with the old minced-up diet.  It is also valuable for young puppies as a small part of the diet, or for old or sick dogs, or dogs with no teeth, as part of their diet.  Get if from a reliable butcher or mince if yourself.

  • Note that raw mince in better value for your dog than cooked mince.


How Much Meat Can or Should My Dog be Fed ?

The amount required depens very much on the age and activity of the dog.

For an adult dog who has finished growing, so long as he/she is eating bones as at least 50% of the diet, then from nothing up the half the rest of the diet could consist of meat with the rest being fruits and/or vegetables and/or cereals and/or organ meat etc., plus vitamin supplements.  For more information on practical diets for adult dogs, puppies and older dogs, please turn to the appropriate chapter.


Which is the Best Sort of Meat to Feed My Dog?

The choice in Australia is between, beef, sheep, pork and chicken.  In pet shops you will also be able to purchase meat labelled as horse, kangaroo and buffalo.  However, in many parts of Australia, MOST of the red meat you buy in pet shops is kangaroo, even if it is labelled otherwise.

Although meat generally contains first class, good quality protein, the one exception is horse meat where the quality and digestibility of the protein is lower than other meats.  There is not much difference between the more commonly used meats in this respects.  However, out of beef, chicken, lamb and pork, beef is highest and chicken is lowest.

The major difference between meats is it the level of ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS.  Chicken and pork have the highest levels, with lamb second, beef third and kangaroo last.  I have no data on the horse, except that most of it is pretty lean, but the fat which is present is yellow and oily, indicating the presence of carotenoids (vitamin A precursors) and high levels of unsaturated fats.

Kangaroo meat is very lean.  The protein is of excellent quality.  I have no reliable data on the type of fatty acids present, althought I would suspect they fall somewhere between beef and sheep on the saturated side and pork and chicken on the unsaturated side.

As your dog ages, the white meats are far more healthy for dogs than the red meats.  From a scientific standpoint I am not at all sure why that is so.  I do not know whether it related to the level of essential fatty acids present, the lowe protein, or some unknown factor.  It is just that the red meats seem to be associated with more degenerative conditions such as arthritis.


Rabbit as Dog Food

Whole rabbits are great food for dogs.  They are a very natural food for dogs, and of course are a complete food, containing everything your dog needs, including good levels of the essential fatty acids.

  • We feed them to our dogs whole, both with the fur removed of left on.  Our dogs particularly love the heads which are rich in nutrients because of the brain and the eyes.

In greyhound circles it used to be common to feed a whole rabbit to a not-one-hundred-percent-well greyhound, particularly a greyhound with diarrhea which could not be attributed to any spectific cause.


Raw Beef Meat as Dog Food

Beef is very popular as dog meat.  It is a excellent source of high quality readily-digested protein.  Beef contains hegher levels of protein than sheep chicken or pork.  It usually has less fat and therefore less energy than other meats which means it contributes less to obsity.  It has the lowest cholesterol levels ut is low in essential fatty acids, with 5% polyunsaturated, 47% monounsaturated and 48% saturated fat.

Beef is very low in calcium.  It has good levels of iron and zinc.  Chuck and skirt steak have the highest zinc level.  This is important when male dogs have reproductive problems or when dogs of any description have skin problems.

Beef contains small amounts of the B vitamins (1, 2 and 3), but very little of any of the others.

  • When dogs are fed mostly beef, they seem to have more health problems than when lamb or chicken is fed.  I am not sure why this is so.

It may be due to a lack of minerals because beef is usually fed without bones.  Both chicken and lamb are usually fed on the bone, or if fed cooked, even without the bone, the meat and juices contain the minerals which have leached out of the bone during the cooking process.

It may also be due to a lack of essential fatty acids.

Another possibility is that beef off the bone does not clean the teeth and provides no eating exercice.  Most dog owners make matters worse by cutting the beef up into small pieces.

  • Greyhounds often perform best on beef.

This may relate to it’s high protein, zinc and iron content, and the fact that any deficiencies in vitamins and essential fatty acids are made good with incredibly high levels of supplementation.  It may also relate to the fact that some of the more successful grey hound breeders/trainers feed beef in the way that wild dogs eat beef.  As the whole animal.

Greyhounds fed this way have to work for their food.  They have to rip and tear it off the bone.  They eat the innards including organ meat, the grassy contents of the bowels, and the contents of the large bowel, which is rich is essential fatty acids and B vitamins.  They also eat it as it ‘’goes off’’… which confers other nutritional advantages to a dog whose whole evolutionary history is filled with eating in this manner.

Contrast that to most other dogs fed beef today.  Almost invariably, it is without the bone attached.  Certainly the rest of the carcase is not available as a source of nutrition.


Raw Sheep Meat as Dog Food

Lamb is very ‘’fatty’’.  Fat can make up to thirty or forty percent of what you feed, even more with fatty off cuts from the butcher.  The cholesterol levels are slightly higher than beef.

The excessive fat can be a problem.  If that is so, either cut it off, or don’t feed that excessively fatty piece.

The fat is only 3% polyunsaturated, with 54% saturated and 43% monounsaturated.

  • Because lamb is often fed untrimmed, it supplies more essential fatty acids than beef.
  • Zinc in sheep meat varies from 2 to 10% but is mostly about 3 to 5%.  This is similar to beef.  The highest levels are found in the shank and the neck chops.  If your dog has a zinc deficiency, these are the neck chops.  If your dog has a zinc deficiency, these are the cuts to feed.
  • Because lamb supplies plenty of fat as well as zinc, switching dogs with skin problems from a dry dog food diet to a diet based on lamb, meaty off-cuts often sees a dramatic improvement.  More so than switching to beef with it’s lowe fat levels.

Note that a lamb shank has only 25% fat, so do not rely on lamb shanks to fix fatty acid deficiencies.

The protein levels in lamb vary between 15 and 32%, depending mainly on how much fat is present.  As fat increases, the protein levels drop.  This protein level is slightly lower than beef.

Like any other raw unprocessed meat, sodium is low and potassium is high.  That means sheep meat may be fed to dogs with heart and kidney problems.  Note that lamb shanks are higher in sodium than other cuts.

Calcium levels are a bit higher in lamb than in beef, but still too low to feed a lot of lamb without bone.  Do feed the bone!  Iron levels are quite reasonable, just slightly less than beef but better than chicken.

The levels of vitamins in lamb are roughly comparable to beef.

  • The bottom line with sheep meat, particularly if it is on the bone, is that is is valuable dog food.  This includes shanks, breasts, chops, legs, shoulders, ribs, bnecks, pelvis, backbone, head etc..

We have fed all of these pieces over many years to many different dogs with few problems.  Occasionally we notice, and clients report, that some dogs suffer diarrhea when fed sheep meat.  The simple answer is not to feed such dogs with sheep meat, or introduce it slowly to minimise digestive upsets.


Raw Chicken Meat as Dog Food

  • We find chicken is the best all round meat for our dogs.

Naturally we always feed it on the bone – as nature intended.  It makes up about 60% of the raw meaty bones we feed our dogs.

  • It can be the fattiest meat fed to dogs, particularly when feeding boned out chicken carcasses as we commonly do.

Fat can be anywhere from 3% to 40%.  Of the fat, 14% is polyunsaturated, 52% monounsaturated and 34% is saturated.  In other words, raw meaty chicken bones are an important source of essential fatty acids, and also of the protective monounsaturated fat.  Chicken has higher cholesterol levels than beef.

  • Protein is lower than in beef lamb or pork.  It ranges between 13 and 28%, but most cuts contain between 20 and 25% protein.

Chicken has lowish sodium, with about three times as much potassium.  Like other meat, it is low in calcium and magnesium. 

  • Compared to beef lamb and even pork, chicken flesh is low in iron and zinc, particularly when it is fed raw.

Like all other meats, as soon as you cook the meat on the bone, some of the calcium and iron and zinc leach out into the flesh.

  • Compared to the other meats, chicken is much higher in vitamin A, but still does not have enough to satisfy all your dog’s requirements.  It has adequate levels of the B vitamins, with no vitamin C.

We feed raw chicken on the bone to all sizes and shapes and ages of dogs.  Raw chicken wings form the basis of our small dogs’  (Poodles and Miniature Foxy’s) diet.  Most owners of toy breeds will testify to the great gusto with which small animals attack chicken meat.  Unfortunately, most of these people feed COOKED chicken and no bones.

  • Our big dogs often get whole chickens !

Two lady clients were very lucky.  I did not have to go into any great explanation.  I was telling them about the importance of chicken wings, and while they were going through the usual shock-horror-gasp reaction, without saying a word I ushered them into the room where we keep our canine boarders.

On that day we had a female Miniature Foxy with five four week old puppies staying with us.  They had just been fed.  Naturally they had received chicken wings.  Mother was eating with great gusto, crackle and crunch as she crewed through those bones.  The little ones were tackling theirs with no less enthusiasm, just a little more difficulty.  They were making sufficient headwa for those two ladies to be totally convinced that this unheard of concept was entirely possible.

They like many handreds of other dog owners went home and tried the chicken wings on their own animals, with the usual outstanding success.  They experienced trouble free acceptance of the wings by their pets, and the rewards that followed in terms of the greatly increased health of their little dogs.


Warning !

Please note… COOKED chicken bones should not be fed to dogs because they are dangerous!

Cooked, and therefore hardened and brittle chicken bone cased in soft cooked chicken flesh is a potential danger to any dog.  It can cause problems anywhere along the dog’s digestive tract, and it often does.  Feed RAW chicken, on the bone !

For young, small and old animals, or animals whose teeth have seen better days, I recommend using a cleaver or meat mallet to break the bones into small manageable pieces.  Do this in such a fashion that the skin is left mostly intact.  I often rub brewer’s yeast into this.

If you must feed cooked chicken to your dog, remove the bone.


Hormones in Chicken ?

A lot of people believe that chicken meat in full of hormones and will therefore cause problems.  This worries breeders in particular.  I have not found this to be a problem.  The use of female hormones in Australian chickens was outlawed years ago because of the potential dangers to human health.

There is no reliable data confirming or otherwise the possibility that chicken meat may contain some form of growth promotant with hormone like activities.  What I can tell you however is that in my experience, with both my own animals, and talking to numerous breeders who have switched their dogs to a raw chicken-meat-plus-bone based diet, there have been no problems.  On the contrary, we have all been delighted with healthy, happy dogs that are reproducing beautifully.


Pork as Dog Food

Not a lot of people seed pork to their dogs, except perhaps  the folk who go out pigging.  If that is you, please read thoroughly the section on hydatids.  Pork is excellent meat for dogs having a good balance of essential fatty acids, good quality protein which is high in the essential amino acid Taurine, and very high in the vitamins B1, 2 and 3.  All other vitamins are largely absent.

Total protein will vary from 15 to 30%, with protein mostly running at about 20 to 25%.  That is, more than chicken but less than beef or lamb.

Total fat varies a lot, as it does in chicken, from as low as 2% on a very lean piece of meat, up to 30% or more.  The fat is made up of about 12% polyunsaturated, fatty acids, 51% monounsaturated and 37% saturated.  That is, it is quite like chicken.  It has good levels of the essential fatty acids.

The cholesterol in a lean piece of pork is more than beef but less than chicken.  As soon as it is grilled or baked, the cholesterol rises.

As with other meats, there are no carbohydrates in pork.  There is a good ratio of sodium to potassium with about five or six times more potassium than sodium

  • Calcium is low as it is in all meat.

The level of zinc is better than in chicken but not as good as lamb or beef.  Pork contains virtually no vitamin A.


Pet shops and Pet Meat

If meat is purchased from a pet shop, there is the rick of buying meat to which identifying dyes and chemical preservatives have been added.

Pet shops rarely or never, sell meat on the bone, the preferred way to feed meat to a dog.

  • The sort of meat offered for sale can vary, but over the years I have seen labels proclaiming the meat to be amny one of beef, buffalo, chicken, horse, and kangaroo.  Despite these labels, much of the red meat sold in pet shops is kangaroo.


Kangaroo Meat

Kangaroo is very lean and sometimes requires added fat.  For example mutton, or better still chicken fat or pork fat – lard.  I recommend the chicken and lard because of the higher levels of essential fatty acids.


Buffalo Meat

I can only assume that buffalo meat is much the same as beef, quite nutritious, but low in essential fatty accids, so that both buffalo and beef based diets require added fat or oils rich in essential fatty acids.


Horse Meat

Most horse meat is very lean, which makes it lowe in energy than other meats.  It is also less digestible than other meats.  This will often lead to diarrhea.  If feeding horse meat, do not feed a lot of it, feed some other meat as well, e.g. chicken or mutton or fatty beef.


Chicken Meat From Pet Shops

  • This is usually sold minced.  Unfortunately, all the comments I made above about other forms of minced meat apply.  That is, the dog loses the exercise and teeth cleaning effect of eating whole chicken, and you lose control over what is in the food.

If the source is reputable, fresh chicken mince containing bones is a valuable food.  It is a good way to introduce a dog to raw chicken … whole.  However, of all the processed pet foods available, this is the one most likely to contain harmful (to your dog) bacteria.  We never buy it, preferring to feed our dogs on chicken carcasses.

If you do buy chicken ready minced from a pet food supplier, check to see whether it has had preservatives added, and if so what sort.  If they are of the anti-oxidant type, particularly if it is vitamin E, that is far better than none at all.  Anti-oxidant preservatives stop fats going rancid – a basic cause of many long term health problems in dogs.  Unfortunately, some dogs are allergic to preservatives and will develop eczema diarrhea and other problems when they are forced to eat them.

  • The bottom line is that anything sold in a minced state, should always be viewed with suspicion, until proven otherwise.  Mincing can be used to hide a multitude of sins.


Feeding Meat During Hot Periods

During hot weather limit the amount of meat you feed to your dog.  In fact restrict total food intake.  Your dog does not need it, particularly if it is overweight.  If your dog is overweight, this is a perfect time to help him or her lose weight.  To do this, lengthen the periods between meal times, and feed less bulk at each meal.  Feed only raw fruit and vegetables.  If your dog is not interested in these, then he/she is not really hungry, and will probably lose weight !  Do not coax an overweight dog to eat at anytime !

However, some dogs lose to much weight in hot weather due to excessive panting and a reduced appetite.  In that case it can be important to feed more energy-dense food.  That could mean fatty meat – preferably on the bone.


Handling Raw Dog’s Meat

The dog’s digestive system is built to handle a whole range of microbes that are of potential danger to man.  We see the dog’s ability in this regard every time it digs up and consumes the rotting remains of meat on a buried raw bone.

  • So when handling raw meat, particularly raw chicken meat, observe sensible precautions, thoroughly washing all plates and implements in near boiling water, together with the usual personal hygiene things like thoroughly washing hands before consuming your own food.


Feeding Fish to Your Dog

Fish can form a small part of a balanced diet for your dog.  If you feed a lot of it, you must make sure you feed the whole fish whith it’s entrails, eyes etc., and do make sure you are giving planty of vitamin E supplement.

However, my broad recommendation is do not feed a lot of fish to your dog.  As part of a mixed diet it is fine.  One type of fish I would recommend on a regular basis would be sardines ..  plying your dog with some of the omega 3 group of essential fatty acids.