health and longevity with the raw food diet…

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    Ellie's Story
    Feeding puppies the right way
    When there is a new puppy in the family there is a temptation to spoil him with overfeeding. Whilst puppies do require more energy per kilogram of body weight than the adult dog, this still needs to be limited to avoid obesity.

    According to author of, ‘Give your dog a Bone,’ puppies should certainly not be overfed to ensure that growth is achieved slowly and gradually. “
    The way you feed your new puppy will determine its health for the rest of its life. Its that important.” (Billinghurst1993)

    Commercial pet foods given to a growing puppy, in particular to larger breeds, leads to
    “Hip and Elbow Dysplasia and a host of related skeletal diseases in our modern overfed and over exercised dogs.” (Billinghurst 1998)

    In my own experience, my parents bought a mixed breed puppy from the RSPCA. They spoilt her with love and lots of ‘high quality’ commercial pet food, as advised to them by the animal shelter assistants and by their local Veterinarian. My mother, having a love for long walks through the bush land took Ellie the puppy on endless trails every day. Only now, looking back to those times, I can understand the massive growth spurt, the lack of muscle mass to fat ratio, the long spindly legs and oversized body.

    Ellie’s diet change to raw meaty bones unfortunately came all too late. By the time she was 12 years old she had back pain, walking was sometimes painful and she really didn’t want to go on long walks. The Veterinarian never suggested a change in diet from commercial pet food; instead he suggested pet food, which was lighter in calories. Ellie was given medication for the inflammation of joints. It wasn’t until she started crying in pain when attempting to stand or sit that the truth revealed itself. X-Rays showed that Ellie had bone spurs growing from two of her vertebrae in the lumbar region of her spine. Without a doubt, her movements were causing pressure upon the spinal cord, which as many of us know from our own back injuries, trapped or compressed nerves produce excruciating pain. Ellie was euthanised at home, she was only 12 years old. My parents were devastated; she was like a child to them. They had done everything advised to them by the professionals they trusted and believed in. Ellie unfortunately died from the very practices Dr Billinghurst emphasizes in his texts, an excess of heavily processed, poor quality pet food, long walks, a lack of playtime and a massive growth spurt during the puppy phase.

    Rather like factory farmed animals raised for meat, innocent and ignorant pet owners watch their puppies grow very fast. This can be compared to factory-farmed chickens which are grossly overfed with low quality, high calorie food; often containing growth promoting ingredients. When the body is forced to grow at this rapid rate, the muscles, skeletal bones and joints are not ready to hold the excess weight. In factory farms around the world, chickens grow from chicks to 1.2 kilograms in 28 days. This is not what nature intended. They suffer from being unable to stand under their own body weight; they have deformed joints, respiratory problems and towards the end of their lives are unable to reach food and water.

    I write from my own experience, as every school year, I take my year 12 students to a chicken farm here in Dubai. The system is the same worldwide. It certainly converts most people who see such abuse to buy free range and/or organic. This leaves me with the question, why are a majority of pet owners doing this to their beloved pets?

    The overfeeding of puppies with poor quality, processed, species un-appropriate pet food is:

    -Reducing longevity
    -Taking away quality of life
    -Encouraging skeletal and joint problems
    -Ensuring a lifetime of medications
    -Ensuring large Vet bills
    -An assurance of pain, discomfort and confusion

    Armed with the knowledge I have today, a puppy should be managed by:

    -Limiting the amount of food given
    -Staying away from cooked, heavily processed pet foods
    -Feeding a species appropriate diet such as BARF, consisting of raw meaty bones, offal, eggs, pulped vegetables, essential fatty acids plus supplements including vitamins B and C, garlic and kelp. (Billinghurst 1998)
    -Encouraging lots of playtime without the long walks. This allows the skeleton and muscles to strengthen without the monotonous wearing on the joints.

    Prior to the introduction to commercial pet food, hip and elbow dysplasia were rare in dogs. Being a controversial issue, most Veterinarians and Dog Breeders will tell you that this is a genetically inherited problem not a dietary one.
    In disagreement with the majority view on the cause of hip dysplasia and in full agreement with Dr Billinghurst is author and Vet, Dr Pitcairn.
    “Avoiding commercial pet foods and feeding a natural, wholesome diet is an important part of the preventative program.”

    If only more pet owners knew that this incredibly painful and crippling disorder can easily be prevented. If only my parents had of known what they know now maybe their precious girl, Ellie would still be with them.


    Billinghurst, I. 1998, ‘Grow your pups with bones,’ Warrigal Publishing, Australia.
    Billinghurst, I. 1993, ‘Give your dog a bone,’ Warrigal Publishing, Australia.
    Pitcairn, R. H. & Pitcairn, S. H, 2005, ‘Dr. Pitcairn’s guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.’ Rodale Inc, USA.

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