Book Review: Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billinghurst
by, 23rd May 2008 at 09:06 AM (1005 Views)
Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billinghurst BV.Sc.[Hons], B.Sc.Agr., Dip.Ed.
I’ve now got quite a collection of books that are about or cover in detail canine nutrition. With out a doubt this one outshines them all.
First up, I’d like to catch the attention of those who under penance of death will never feed their dog bones, or those who would never consider giving their dog un-cooked meats. Please don’t be turned off this book because it is about feeding a raw diet with raw meaty bones. There is an enormous amount of information in this book that is of benefit to everyone, regardless of what they will or will not feed to their pets. For example, those who are fearful of feeding their dogs whole bones because of fears of choking or suffering perforated intestines & bowels, there is an answer. The softer bones like chicken necks & wings can very easily be ground up in a blender, food processor, meat grinder or mincer. In fact some of the harder beef & lamb bones also can be ground up in this manner, depending upon your kitchen appliances. Though your dogs will not get the benefits of chewing & ripping, they will receive the nutritional benefits of the bones, that is the minerals, vitamins, enzymes & fatty acids contained in the bone & the marrow. The minced bone also firms up the stools & helps alleviate anal gland problems. For those who will not feed raw meats, there is a huge section on the benefits & the preparation of raw fresh fruit, raw vegetables, grains & other non-meat proteins. It also may come as a surprise to you, because it was a huge surprise to me, that at the end of the book, Billinghurst answers a letter from a person who is feeding their dogs a vegetarian diet. Rather than delivering a scathing attack upon the writer, Billinghurst makes some very constructive suggestions on how to modify the diet to make it a safer, more nutritionally balanced vegetarian diet.
Okay, so this book is pure and simple about feeding your dog a raw diet which includes lots of raw meaty bones (RMB).
It starts off with a “how to use this book”, followed by an introduction & then goes on to explode some very common myths. Billinghurst goes into great detail as to why you should not feed your dog processed commercial dog foods. Surprisingly, he also explains why a diet of only cooked foods (both meats & vegetables) is not a whole lot better than the commercial products. Billinghurst then delivers his very convincing argument why a diet of raw meaty bones, with raw vegetables & fruit, plus other proteins & a very small amount of grains is the way dogs are meant to be eating and should be eating.
The rest of the book sets about educating the reader about what should be fed, how it should be prepared, and very importantly, why this is so.
The section on Raw Meaty Bones tells of what bones to feed and what bones not to feed. The big message is NEVER FEED COOKED BONES. There are helpful hints on how to introduce bones to a dog that has never had them, what to do for your ageing dog that has no teeth left in its head, thanks to its lifelong diet of kibble and/or mushy foods, and which bones are the more beneficial.
Meat is one topic that surprised me somewhat. Billinghurst does not advocate the feeding of large quantities of meat on its own. The primary source of meat should be the RMBs and maybe only weekly would offal & other organ meats be fed. Beef, lamb etc are deemed fine to be fed, but not in large quantities. Billinghurst points out all the benefits of meat, but in this case, moderation is the key.
Vegetables, especially the green leafy variety get a huge thumbs up, but they must be served raw. The section relating to vegetables outlines which types are the best, what their vitamin & mineral content is and how to prepare them. The bottom line is that they should be served raw & ground, not grated & certainly not served up in lumps. Apparently the dogs’ digestive tract does not break down cellulose in plant matter as readily as the human digestive tract. Billinghurst states that stewed vegetables are more easily digested but that most of the nutrients, especially the enzymes are destroyed in the cooking. Large lumps or raw vegetables or grated vegetables are fine for recreational chewing and for filling but they do not provide enough in the way of vitamins & minerals on their own. So without supplements, the diet would end up deficient.
Fruits are given a big rap for their benefits & it is suggested they be served very ripe as the cellulose is already breaking down by this stage. For fussy eaters who turn their noses up at fruit, it is suggested that like the vegetables they be ground up very fine & mixed through other foods that the dog likes.
Other protein sources are discussed including eggs, cheese, milk, cottage cheese & yoghurt. They are all given the thumbs up, provided they are not a constant substitute for raw meaty bones.
Vitamins, minerals & enzymes are then discussed. Though feeding a wide range of foods will provide your dog with all of these in its diet, Billinghurst speaks of the different levels of vitamin/mineral provided. There is the vitamin deficient, the just adequate amount of vitamins, the plentiful quantities of vitamins, the megadoses of vitamins, and finally the toxic levels of vitamins. His view is that we should be aiming for the plentiful quantities of vitamins, not just the adequate amounts.
As a matter of interest, his view is that even the very best commercial dog foods contain only the just adequate amounts of some vitamins & minerals and toxic quantities of others.
Next there are sections on how to put it all together in an easy, no fuss manner. There is a large section on feeding puppies, and also the ageing sedentary dog.
One thing that really surprised & delighted me about this book, is just how absurdly easy it is to feed a BARF (bones & raw foods) diet. I am on a couple of canine nutrition mailing lists and the hoo-ha & major production that people are going to, to provide their dogs with a raw diet is staggering & extremely off-putting. It doesn’t have to be like that. It is astoundingly easy & simple. In fact, provided you are feeding your dog good wholesome foods fit for human consumption, then there is absolutely no reason why you can not be tossing your dogs meal together at the same time that you are preparing the family meal. The only real difference is that you won’t be cooking the dog’s meat.
Speaking of “fit for human consumption”. All meats should be purchased from the butcher, that is the same place you buy your own meat from. Meat sold at pet stores is putrid, full of preservatives, contains meats unfit for human consumption and are not governed by the same food handling standards as that of human foods. Do not buy your raw meats at the pet shop.
Oh, I almost forgot. There is a section that covers the horrible things that can be found it raw meats. Billinghurst does not shy away from this topic one iota. In fact his warnings, particularly about hydatids is loud, clear & gruesome. However with just a little common sense it is extremely easy to avoid any of this. If you buy all your meats from a butcher shop there is no risk of hydatid. Those at risk are the farmer & his family, if the family dog is not wormed regularly & livestock is slaughtered onsite, tossing the organs to the dog, or if dead livestock is laying around for the dogs to eat the organs out. The other group at risk are those who take their dogs pig hunting & allow the dog to eat organs of the slaughtered animal. Also at risk are animals that are allowed to roam around the bush by themselves, killing & eating animals that are known to carry hydatid. There is no risk of you or your family acquiring hydatid if you buy your meat & your dog’s meat at the family butcher.
I was so impressed with this book that I have just ordered by the same author “The BARF Diet” and “Grow Your Pups with Bones”.
I can’t speak highly enough of it.
I would finally like to emphasise, if you will never give your dog bones nor give raw meats, please still consider reading this book. Though it may not & probably will not change your mind, you will find so much helpful information that will benefit you and your dog.