Tom Lonsdale Veterinary Surgeon
PO Box 6096 Phone: +61 2 4574-0537
Windsor Delivery Centre Fax: +61 2 4574-0538
NSW 2756 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Australia Web: www.rawmeatybones.com
August 2001 ©
Diet guide for
domestic dogs and cats
Dingoes and feral cats keep themselves healthy by eating whole
carcasses of prey animals. Ideally we should feed our pets in the same
manner. Until a dependable source of whole carcasses becomes
available, pet owners need a satisfactory alternative. The following
recommendations, based on raw meaty bones, have been adopted by
thousands of pet owners with excellent results.
The diet is easy to follow and cheap, and pets enjoy it. It’s good
for ferrets too.
of the diet.
discard cooked bones).
Puppies and kittens
From about three weeks of age puppies and kittens start to take an
interest in what their mother is eating. By six weeks of age they can
eat chicken carcasses, rabbits and fish.
During the brief interval between three and six weeks of age it is
advisable to mince chicken carcasses or similar for the young animals.
The meat and bone should be minced together. This is akin to the
part-digested food regurgitated by some wild carnivore mothers.
Large litters will need more supplementary feeding than small litters.
Between four and six months of age puppies and kittens cut their
permanent teeth and grow rapidly. At this time they need a plentiful
supply of carcasses or raw meaty bones of suitable size.
Puppies and kittens tend not to overeat natural food. Food can be
Natural foods suitable for pet carnivores
Raw meaty bones
Chicken and turkey carcasses, after the meat has been removed for
human consumption, are suitable for dogs and cats.
Poultry by-products include: heads, feet, necks and wings.
Whole fish and fish heads.
Goat, sheep, calf, deer and kangaroo carcasses can be sawn into large
pieces of meat and bone.
Other by-products include: pigs’ trotters, pigs’ heads, sheep heads,
brisket, tail bones, rib bones.
Rats, mice, rabbits, fish, chickens, quail, hens.
Liver, lungs, trachea, hearts, omasums (stomach of ruminants), tripe.
Quality — Quantity — Frequency
Healthy animals living and breeding in the wild depend on the correct
quality of food in the right quantity at a correct frequency. They thereby
gain an appropriate nutrient intake plus the correct amount of teeth
cleaning — animals, unlike humans, ‘brush’ and ‘floss’ as they eat.
Low-fat game animals and fish and birds provide the best source of
food for pet carnivores. If using meat from farm animals (cattle, sheep
and pigs) avoid excessive fat, or bones that are too large to be eaten.
Dogs are more likely to break their teeth when eating large knuckle
bones and bones sawn lengthwise than if eating meat and bone together.
Raw food for cats should always be fresh. Dogs can consume ‘ripe’
food and will sometimes bury bones for later consumption.
Establishing the quantity to feed pets is more an art than a science.
Parents, when feeding a human family, manage this task without the
aid of food consumption charts. You can achieve the same good
results for your pet by paying attention to activity levels, appetite and
High activity and big appetite indicate a need for increased food, and
Body condition depends on a number of factors. The overall body shape
— is it athletic or rotund — and the lustre of the hair coat provide clues.
Use your finger tips to assess the elasticity of the skin. Does it have an
elastic feel and move readily over the muscles? Do the muscles feel well
toned? And how much coverage of the ribs do you detect? This is the
best place to check whether your pet is too thin or too fat. By comparing
your own rib cage with that of your pet you can obtain a good idea of
body condition — both your own and that of your pet.
An approximate food consumption guide, based on raw meaty bones,
for the average pet cat or dog is 15 to 20 percent of body weight in
one week or 2 to 3 percent per day. On that basis a 25 kilo dog
requires up to five kilos of carcasses or raw meaty bones weekly. Cats
weighing five kilos require about one kilo of chicken necks or similar
each week. Table scraps should be fed as an extra component of the
diet. Please note that these figures are only a guide and relate to adult
pets in a domestic environment.
Pregnant or lactating females and growing puppies and kittens may
need much more food than adult animals of similar body weight.
Wherever possible, feed the meat and bone ration in one large piece
requiring much ripping, tearing and gnawing. This makes for contented
pets with clean teeth.
Wild carnivores feed at irregular intervals. In a domestic setting,
regularity works best and accordingly I suggest that you feed adult dogs
and cats once daily. If you live in a hot climate I would recommend
that you feed pets in the evening to avoid attracting flies.
I suggest that on one or two days each week your dog may be fasted —
just like animals in the wild.
On occasions you may run out of natural food. Don’t be tempted to
buy artificial food, fast your dog and stock up with natural food the
Puppies, cats, ferrets, sick or underweight dogs should not be fasted
(unless on veterinary advice).
Wild carnivores eat small amounts of omnivore food, part-digested in
liquid form, when they eat the intestines of their prey. Our table scraps,
and some fruit and vegetable peelings, are omnivore food which has
not been ingested. Providing scraps do not form too great a proportion
of the diet they appear to do no harm and may do some good. I advise
an upper limit of one-third scraps for dogs and rather less for cats.
Liquidising scraps, both cooked and raw, in the kitchen mixer may
help to increase their digestibility.
Things to avoid
•Excessive meat off the bone — not balanced.
•Excessive vegetables — not balanced.
•Small pieces of bone — can be swallowed whole and get stuck.
•Cooked bones — get stuck.
•Mineral and vitamin additives — create imbalance.
•Processed food — leads to dental and other diseases.
•Excessive starchy food — associated with bloat.
•Onions and chocolate — toxic to pets.
•Fruit stones (pits) and corn cobs — get stuck.
•Milk — associated with diarrhoea. Animals drink it whether thirsty
or not and consequently get fat. Milk sludge sticks to teeth and gums.
initial difficulty when changed on to a natural diet.
difficulties with a natural diet.
avoid feeding one species of fish constantly. Some species, e.g.
carp, contain an enzyme which destroys thiamine (vitamin B1).
the fastest. Feed pets for a lifetime of health. Prevention is better
Domestic dogs and cats are carnivores. Feeding them the appropriate
carnivore diet represents the single most important contribution to
Establish early contact with a dependable supplier of foodstuffs for
Buy food in bulk in order to avoid shortages.
Package the daily rations separately for ease of feeding.
Refrigerated storage space, preferably a freezer, is essential.
Raw meaty bones can be fed frozen just like ice cream. Some pets eat
the frozen article, others wait for it to thaw.
Small carcasses, for example rats, mice and small birds, can be fed
frozen and complete with entrails. Larger carcasses should have the
entrails removed before freezing.
Take care that pets do not fight over their food.
Protect children by ensuring that they do not disturb feeding pets.
Feeding bowls are unnecessary — the food will be dragged across the
floor — so feed pets outside by preference, or on an easily cleaned
Ferrets are small carnivores which can be fed in the same way as cats.
For an expanded description of dietary requirements, including the
potential hazards, please consult the book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health.
Further information is available and the book may be ordered from:
IMPORTANT: Note that individual animals and circumstances may vary.
You may need to discuss your pet’s needs with your veterinarian.