Ailments of the musculoskeletal system

Continued from last week

Nutritional effects on the bones

Over the millennia of domestication of the dog and the cat, their diets have undergone immense changes. I would believe that in the pre-domestication days, dogs and cats would have eaten an almost pure meat diet. Nowadays, dogs and cat practically eat out of the same ‘pot‘ as their human masters. That is not necessarily the best diet, not lastly because of the many spices we humans consume and which can cause allergic reactions in animals. But that’s another story – to be told on another occasion. Also I should mention that before pet nutrition became a real respected discipline of science, commercial pet food manufactures without any great research effort – used to produce plain meat/all meat preparations for over-the-counter sale. That caused many nutritionally based ailments.

You remember that last week we said that either a deficiency of calcium or an excess of phosphrous has the resulting effect of stimulating parathyroid hormone production in the parathyroid glands. This, in turn, depletes the bones further of calcium. The bones then exhibit the sort of structural weaknesses which we described last week. The point is that pure meat with no carbohydrates (rice) is not good for your dog/cat.

Furthermore, Vitamin D plays a big role in bone development. Vitamin D is needed for calcium to be absorbed from the intestinal tract. No Vitamin D, no calcium getting into the bone.

Let me share with you the results of the research carried out by smart scientists. They will tell us about the nutritional needs of our pets relative to the main elements of calcium and phosphorus and Vitamin D per pound body weight (PPBW). See table below:

As you can see from the table above, the calcium: phosphorus ratio is 1.2 to 1, and the needs of an adult dog would be half that of a growing puppy. Feeding your dog with meat together with carbohydrates (rice, bread, etc) is good, especially if some fresh greens (eg bora) are thrown in for good measure. The important thing to remember is that pure meat diets, pure vegetable diets, pure bread and all rice diets, are not good diets.

Finally, I should mention that nowadays, because so much research has gone into the nutritional needs of our pets (sales of pet foods are in the billions of dollars), the proportions of trace elements, minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates have been worked out in the finest detail in the commercial dog foods. If we use these diets, bone and muscle problems should not arise.

Notwithstanding the truth contained in the previous paragraph, I should mention that there was a time when pet foods would undergo great transport stress to the point of being denaturalized. What I am really saying is that the long journey to Guyana and the pet food staying in hot containers on tropical wharves do not serve the quality of the product well. We must try not to purchase pet food from an unreliable distributor. Ask questions; after all, it is your money and your pet. Dogs can and do get sick from bad quality food; cats just won’t eat bad food – unless starvation forces them to so do. Furthermore, you must guard yourself against the belief that you are purchasing protein (in the form of pet foods) based on meat when in fact the protein is based on grain, the latter not containing important elements needed for bone and muscle growth in young dogs and cats.

We’ll continue with this topic next week.


Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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