Most people would say Georgia eats well. We've come a long way from feeding our dogs kibble from Woollie's and canned dog food.
Sadly, I can't say for sure if her meals are perfectly balanced since I'm not a dogfood expert.
The entire bottom half of our freezer is all Georgia's food. How did our
Nor do I have the mathematical genius required to calculate the kind of 2 decimal point percentages I see on dogfood bags and sites.
To tell you the truth, I get a headache when presented with such numbers and instantly think of all the dogs in the world who don't eat like that and still live good happy lives. [Though perhaps not Methuselan ones.]
Here at our little house, we're hedging our bets by feeding Georgia with a mixture of all good things. As I once commented on Ms Tonk's post about what to feed dogs, we follow the same guideline with Georgia's diet as we do with our own - provide lots of variety and eat in moderation.
2 daily meals of raw and cooked bones*, offal and meat, kibble [currently Canidae], rice and greens.
My latest bugbear and the one I'll be discussing today is bones.
There was a time when we fed our dogs bones as treats. Jordan and Rufus got a big marrow bone or lamb shank once a fortnight, if they were lucky and if we remembered.
Georgia, our 46kg princess, gets 2 little raw bones every single day with her meals. And a big one once a fortnight or so.
Here's the problem.
It seems not all dogs are suited to bones and not all bones are suitable for all dogs.
What bone you pick for a dog might depend on such fiddly things as the size of the dog, the said dog's preferred chewing method, and the purpose of giving the said bone to the said dog in the 1st place.
I know, I know. That already sounds too complicated. But it is, in fact, common sense. Take a deep breath, re-read the sentence if you have to, and you'll see what I mean.
Georgia does not chew her bones. Big or small, she gives them a cursory chomp or 2, then swallows them in chunks. She gobbles them down as if there were ravenous hyenas circling, waiting to pounce and pluck the bone right out of her jaws [not to be confused with Typists who steal her bones while she's sleeping]. Sometimes, she gags and regurgitates the chunks.
This, of course, bothers us. Over the last year, we've experimented with all types of bones for her. From chicken necks and wings to brisket and lamb necks. We give her
"This one's pretty good. What is it?"
We've also experimented with sizes of bones, and how they should be cut.
For example -
Given that she often gags trying to swallow her 1/2 a lamb neck, we now get the butcher to 1/4 them, thus hopefully halving her chances of choking on one. [See? I do do some dubious math.]
We've also gone from giving her a whole marrow bone to just 1/2 at a time so there's less gunk stuffing up her intestines and other more unmentionable body parts.
And no more cutting them lengthwise either, as butchers like to do! Bad BAD. [Apparently.]
In short, our choice of bones has evolved in the last year to cater to our dog's needs and eating habits. I was feeling quite proud and happy with our decisions.
Until last night, when I read this -
"...stay away from cut bones; this includes things like cut up neck bones (where they are cut into individual vertebrae), cut ox-tail bones, and cut knuckle bones. The smaller size encourages inappropriate gulping, not to mention the rather sharp edges left over from the saw blade!"
On that same site [which is dedicated to dispelling myths surrounding raw feeding], I found even more things we should do to make bone-eating safer for our little pea!
Who would have thought picking a bone for a dog would be so closely related to rocket science?
Then. While my mind was still grappling with what further changes we might have to make...
More confusing news.
Some experts believe bones are not good for dogs at all!
How could this be? Well, if you'd like to know what complications could arise from feeding bones, read this. Personally, I wouldn't be keen for Georgia to choke on a bone. I just wouldn't have the strength required to attempt a Heimlich Manoeuvre on her 46kg mass.
And if the above advice is not expert enough for you, perhaps you'll believe this scary one from the U.S. FDA.
I don't know what I hope to get out of this post. A little more clarity would be good. What scares me is that I've come up with so much conflicting information in just 1 night [or to be precise, 2 hours] of googling. What else is out there that I do not know and should know?
How can an average dogowner like myself hope to make a good decision when even the experts are conflicted?
Can you, by any chance, help? Any personal experiences, thoughts and opinions will be gratefully added to this database!
I will end this post with A Note To The Other Half who buys the bones but will probably not read any of the helpful links I've provided here.
Dear Other Half,
Based on my findings, this will be our new guideline for feeding bones to Georgia -
+ We will now use only raw chicken wings and beef brisket in her daily meals. The chicken wings are small enough for her BigDog throat and she does at least crunch them once or twice before swallowing. The brisket bones are soft and [so far] she seems to chew them more.
A bag of brisket sure doesn't go far. After trimming all the fat off, all that was left was the plate on the left.
No more raw lamb necks until she stops gobbling them down, not even if they're 1/4ed.
+ We may be overdoing the bones by feeding them to her twice a day, 7 days a week. 3 or 4 times a week, or just 1 bone a day should be fine.
You'll just have to learn how to ignore Georgia when she comes to
No more lengthwise cutting of tibias/femurs/longbones/marrow bones even if the butcher says the dog won't be able to get to the marrow if he cuts it crosswise, and even if he thinks we're being stupid.
+ "Recreational, teeth-cleaning bones" and lamb shanks will only be given once a fortnight. We won't let Georgia get to the point where she's cracked them open and swallowed the chunks. We'll remove the bones after a good gnaw and while they're still intact. You will not say that that is a waste of money.
+ Finally, just in case all these precautions do not work,
Thank you. Please be aware that this guideline is subject to change at any time.
I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes, I wish we could go back to the good old days when dogs called Fido ate table scraps, and no one felt guilty about it.
"Listen guys. Please don't fuss."
"I'd be happy to have whatever you're having."
Other related reading.+ I like the general feeding guidelines here on the RSPCA Australia site. They're simple to understand and achievable. Plus, there are many other interesting onward reading links.
Here's an excerpt from the section on bones:
+ Too many raw bones may lead to constipation. Generally 1-2 raw bones may be offered per week with a few days in between each serving
+ Avoid large marrow bones (these have very thick outer rims), T-bones, 'chop' bones e.g. lamb cutlets, large knuckle bones and bones sawn lengthwise (as done by some butchers) as dogs may crack their teeth on these
+ Want to know how to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre on a dog?
OR if you don't like to read, here's a video. [I don't see her lifting a 46kg dog in it though.]
+ After all that to-ing and fro-ing, is raw food [including bones] even good for a dog?
I accidentally found this article on a site called Science Based Medicine. It's written by a vet and titled Raw Meat and Bone Diets for dogs: It's enough to make you BAR
I've read it through once. My head is aching and my eyes feel crossed. I will have to go back for another round later. In case you think I'm being a baby about it, here's an excerpt -
"Functionally, dogs are omnivores or facultative carnivores, not obligate carnivores, and they are well-suited to an omnivorous diet regardless of their taxonomic classification or ancestry."
Update. 2 steps forward, 1 step back.
I wrote this post yesterday. This morning, Georgia chucked this lot up. [Don't worry, I've cleaned the messy yellow slime off.]
Yesterday, she got 1 piece of brisket with her brekkie, and 1 chicken wing with her dinner. As you can see, bits of both came out of the front end. [God know what came out of the back.]
It's not little and it's very sharp. I wouldn't want her to suffer from a perforated intestine so, as of this moment, and until her eating habits change...no more raw chicken wings either.
p.s. I'd like to say a quick "Thank you!" to Kol's mama, the Nigella of the doggy world, who's kindly been emailing me information on bones as we struggle to find some suitable ones for Georgia :)
*UPDATE 5 April
Please read the next post for an important correction!