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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.


  • Fresh water constantly available.


  • Raw meaty bones (or carcasses if available) should form the bulk

of the diet.


  • Table scraps both cooked and raw (grate or liquidise vegetables,

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

continuously available.


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.


Whole carcasses

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

body condition.

High activity and big appetite indicate a need for increased food, and

vice versa.


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

next day.


Puppies, cats, ferrets, sick or underweight dogs should not be fasted

(unless on veterinary advice).


Table scraps

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.


Take care


  • Old dogs and cats addicted to a processed diet may experience

initial difficulty when changed on to a natural diet.

  • Pets with misshapen jaws and dental disease may experience

difficulties with a natural diet.

  • Create variety. Any nutrients fed to excess can be harmful.
  • Liver is an excellent foodstuff but should not be fed more than

once weekly.

  • Other offal, e.g. ox stomachs, should not exceed 50 percent of the


  • Whole fish are an excellent source of food for carnivores, but

avoid feeding one species of fish constantly. Some species, e.g.

carp, contain an enzyme which destroys thiamine (vitamin B1).

  • There are no prizes for the fattest dog on the block, nor for

the fastest. Feed pets for a lifetime of health. Prevention is better

than cure.


Miscellaneous tips

Domestic dogs and cats are carnivores. Feeding them the appropriate

carnivore diet represents the single most important contribution to

their welfare.


Establish early contact with a dependable supplier of foodstuffs for

pet carnivores.


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.