Blog - Raw Dog Food

Don’t Feed Your Dog Antlers!

Elk Antlers

Before you buy that cool looking elk or deer antler as a snack for your four-legged friend, think about why these animals have antlers.  A cow, Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep or an African rhino has a ‘horn’, which is like a glorified fingernail that they retain their whole life.  Antlers are one of the unique features that identify and distinguish the deer and elk family from animals with horns.  Each year around January, they “shed” their antlers, frequently knocking them off against trees or digging them into the ground.  Sometimes the antlers just fall off.  The process is sort of like when you were losing your baby teeth, some required fidgeting, some just fell out.  Then around April each year, they start to grow a new and bigger set of antlers for the fall rut. Those antlers are made for digging beds in the dirt and rocks, tearing at trees and principally for fighting.  The antlers need to be extra hard for the violent activities for which nature designed them.  If you want to be the dominant elk come mating season, you need the biggest, baddest, toughest set of antlers on the mountain!  They are not meant to be soft or flexible, and they are definitely not made for chewing.   Did you know that structurally antlers are harder than your dog’s teeth?   It is a romantic idea to give your dog antlers to chew, but many dogs have broken their teeth trying to chew through an antler.  It just is not a good idea. 

            Imagine a pack of wolves bringing down an elk in the forest.  Do they start dinner by chewing on the antlers?  Of course not!  The meat is always the number one target.  The meat represents pure protein and is easily eaten and digested.  After the meat is gone they might move on to the extra work of breaking the soft bones to get at the marrow.  Only in dire circumstances would a wolf try to eat antlers.  It is a tremendous amount of work to break down antlers, there is little there but calcium and a wolf can’t risk breaking its teeth on them.  Antlers are just too hard, and broken teeth for a wolf can be a death knell.  In nature, antlers are not what wolves eat and nor should your dog. 

            So what happens to all those old antlers, do they simply litter the forest floor?  Today, lots of people hunt for the antlers that elk shed each year as both a recreational activity and for profit.  Antler sheds are used for making coat racks, chandeliers, and other furniture.  In nature, the shed antlers become a high calcium feast for forest floor scavengers like porcupines and other rodents that can’t kill the large prey.   Those forest floor scavengers have the special teeth for gnawing on old antlers.  Even these scavengers don’t actually ‘chew’ on the antlers to break them, but slowly gnaw or scrap them for the calcium.  Those antlers missed by the scavengers will eventually decompose into the ground providing nutrients to the surrounding soil.  Just like you shouldn’t open a beer bottle with your teeth because the cap is too strong, your pup shouldn’t chew on antlers.

            For a minute, let’s set aside the logic of how nature works and instead look at the science.  The Moh’s Hardness Scale is the standard used for measuring the hardness of all sorts of things. For example, your fingernails rate a 2 on the Moh’s Scale.  Pure gold also rates a 2, and if you have ever been fortunate enough to have any pure 24 karat gold, you have noticed how easy it is to mark.  That is why rings are made of 10, 12, and 14 karat gold, to add strengthening metals.   

            Your dog’s teeth, just like your teeth, are made up of multiple layers and are hollow for the root.  Each layer of the tooth has a different hardness and serves a different purpose.  The Dentin in teeth rates between 3 and 4 on the Moh’s Scale.  This is about as hard as limestone.  The outer veneer of tooth enamel, however, rates even higher, at a 5 on the Moh’s Scale.  That is as strong as iron, but unfortunately, your teeth only have a thin coat of enamel.  The bulk of a dog’s tooth contains Apatite which also rates a 5.  An antler rates a 5 on the Moh’s Scale as well, but it is a solid mass with no layers and no hollow for a root.  By way of comparison, a copper penny only rates a 4 on the Moh’s Scale.  Even though your teeth contain materials that rate a 5, you would never consider chewing on a penny, would you?

            Now I did mention that wolves do break the bones of prey to get at the marrow.  And both raw bone and antler are made of the same materials, but they are structured differently and function differently.  Growing antlers are covered on the outside in velvet that is a dense network of blood vessels to feed a frenzied growth rate of only about 150 days.  At that point the blood flow stops, the velvet starts to fall off and the solid antlers harden into the elk’s primary defensive and offensive weapon.  On the other hand, raw bone is always moist, hollow, filled with marrow, and meant to be flexible to absorb a fall or other impact.  Never serve your dog cooked bones.  The cooking not only hardens the bone to the point they can break teeth but the calcium in the bone changes structure when it is cooked.  It becomes linear and very brittle.  That is why cooked bones splinter and can cause a dog to choke or die of internal damages caused by the ingested splinters.  

            So what natural, organic treat can you give your pup to eat?  Raw bones from your butcher are great for your dog.  They are soft and still contain marrow, which is not only a healthy snack but an absolute treat for any canine.  Most grocery stores are now selling them in the meat displays, or your butcher can cut some up for you upon request.  Have them cut in at least four to six-inch sections, so your pup isn’t tempted to try and swallow it whole and choke.  You can also have the bones cut length-wise to speed your pup getting to the marrow.  But be warned, this is not a carpet-fit treat.  Try it though; your pup will.

What is My Pup Really Eating?

What is My Pup Really Eating?

 

Meat, meal, protein, beef meal, bone meal, blood meal, byproduct meal, what is all this stuff in my dog food?!?!  Parts is parts – right?  There are lots of euphemisms for the contents of common dog foods, but what do they really mean?  Many sound OK, but some are intended more to hide the facts than convey an accurate account of what is in it.

Fortunately there is a group who sets a standard which most, though not all, dog food manufactures follow.  AAFCO (Assoc. of American Feed Control Officials), sets these standards and below I have provided their meanings of the terms.  It is important to note, however, that this is an association of good people in the industry trying to self-regulate, because there is no real governmental regulation out there to protect your pup.  Keep this in mind, especially whenever you see something from a country like China.

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Beef & Bone Meal:    The rendered product from beef tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.  A byproduct made from beef parts which are not suitable for human consumption.  It can incorporate the entire cow, including the bones, but the quality cuts of meat are always removed.  This is an inexpensive, low quality ingredient used to boost the protein percentage.

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Blood Meal:    Blood Meal is produced from clean, fresh animal blood, exclusive of all extraneous material such as hair, stomach belchings and urine except as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing process.  A large portion of the moisture is usually removed by a mechanical dewatering process or by condensing by cooking to a semi-solid state.  The semi-solid blood mass is then transferred to a rapid drying facility where the more tightly bound water is rapidly removed.  The minimum biological activity of lysine shall be 80%.   An inexpensive protein booster.  You have no way of knowing what type of animal the blood came from or what residues of hormones, medications or other substances are in this product.  It has a better use as fertilizer than as a dog food ingredient.

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Chicken Byproduct Meal:    Consists of the dry, ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines -- exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.   Chicken byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than the chicken muscle meat.  The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet, bones etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not consistent.  Don't forget that byproducts consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than meat.  If there is any use for any part of the animal that brings more profit than selling it as "byproduct", rest assured it will appear in such a product rather than in the "byproduct" dumpster.

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Meat & Bone Meal:   The rendered product from mammal tissues, with or without bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination.  Any kind of animal can be included: "4-D animals" (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on.  It can also include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.

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Meat Meal:     The rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.  The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: "4-D animals" (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on.  It can also include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.

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Pork & Bone Meal:   The rendered product from pork tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, skin, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.  A byproduct made from pork parts which are not suitable for human consumption.  It can incorporate the entire pig, including the bones, but the quality cuts of meat are always removed.  This is an inexpensive, low quality ingredient used to boost the protein percentage.

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Poultry Byproduct Meal:      Consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcasses of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines, exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.  The parts used can be obtained from any slaughtered fowl, so there is no control over the quality and consistency of individual batches.  Poultry byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than chicken meat.  The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet, bones, organs etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not consistent.   Don't forget that byproducts consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than meat.   If there is any use for any part of the animal that brings more profit than selling it as "byproduct", rest assured it will appear in such a product rather than in the "byproduct" dumpster.

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Poultry Meal: The clean combination of poultry flesh and skin with or without bone. Does not contain feathers, heads, feet or entrails. If from a particular source it may state so (i.e. chicken, turkey etc).  Note how in this product the source is not defined as "slaughtered poultry".  The manufacturer does not disclose the species (or the mix of species) of the poultry used.  The fowl can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination.  Any kind of animal can be included: "4-D animals" (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), turkey, chicken, geese, buzzard, seagulls, misc. roadkill, birds euthanized at shelters and so on.

GROSS!  Seriously, you just can’t make this stuff up!  That it is so common a usage that they even have an industry term like “4-D Animals” for dead, diseased, disabled, or animals dying prior to slaughter is scary for your pet.  Maybe the temperatures at which they cook it kills bacteria, but what about the drugs used to put the animals down, or the cancerous tissues mixed in there.  Who wants to eat that stuff to a beloved family member?

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Raw Dog Food: On the other hand, if you feed an all-natural, organic, raw meat like RAW WILD, then there is only the one ingredient – meat.   Pure, raw, wild deer and elk from the Rocky Mountains, what more could you ask for!  Just buy an all-natural, organic raw meat like RAW WILD.

RAW WILD Ingredients

 

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