Meat is usually taken to be the skeletal muscle of cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. Heart is usually included with offal. It is also muscle, but not skeletal muscle from the bones of the animal.
Various muscles have varying amounts of water and fat associated with them, but the protein value of skeletal muscle meat is around 20% to 30%. The firmer muscles being higher in protein as they contain less moisture, they are usually harder to cut and tougher to chew, but they are of better value for our canine companions. They are also normally the cheaper cuts, making economic sense for our pockets and better value for our dogs.
Chicken wings and chicken necks sold for dogs are NOT MEAT. They are a little skin, some bone, some fat and the merest trace of muscle (meat). They are cheap, but they do not provide the nutrients required for the correct feeding of any dog.
The nutrient requirement of dogs are many and they vary with different phases of the dog’s life due to growth, work, climate and many other factors. Meat can provide the protein requirement for dogs. Meat also contains many of the B group vitamins and some of the essential trace elements required by the dog. This is all in natural, fresh form which is easily and readily digestible, so that the dog can obtain its essential nutrients from this source. Depending on the meat, fat is also obtained from this source. Dogs need between 10% and 20% fat in their diets for good health, fat sedentary dogs of course need much less fat than do lean, active dogs, but 10% is really a lower limit to obtain all the essential fatty acids to maintain optimal good health.
Meat provides all these needs in a readily available form without there being waste, so the amounts fed may be less than when feeding protein, fat and vitamins and minerals in some other form.
Dogs find a diet based on fresh meat very satisfying, particularly when the diet is correctly supplemented with cereal that has been prepared for easy digestion and the correct balance of minerals with particular emphasis on the calcium phosphorus ratio and the sodium potassium ratio. Meat and cereals are both very well endowed with phosphorus and potassium, but very light on calcium, while sodium levels are adequate.
Meatmeal is not a substitute for fresh meat. Meatmeal is dehydrated which changes the composition of the protein, making it less digestible. The fat is changed and becomes rancid, while the vitamins are destroyed. The mineral content becomes concentrated and the wrong minerals are thus ingested in greater than acceptable quantities. The use of meatmeals in diets is often responsible for minor skin irritations, minor kidney problems associated with strong urine excretion, and in time may lead to cardiac irregularities and liver insufficiency.
Meat in a large piece will retain its freshness for about a week, sometimes longer. Fresh meat cut into 5cm cubes will remain fresh under good refrigeration for up to a week. Meat that has been minced in any way will go “off” fairly quickly. The reason being that the mincing crushes the cells of the meat so that the juices are exposed to more bacteria which break down the meat faster.
If meat needs to be kept for greater periods, it should be snap frozen. If freezing is not possible, it may be cooked for the dog, preferably quick baked to seal off the exposed surfaces without overheating the innermost portions. This will prevent damage by bacteria and the meat will keep better for a short period. Freshness depends on keeping the bacteria at bay.
If at all possible, fresh supplies of meat should be obtained at no longer intervals than weekly. Fresh meat can be obtained from butchers, supermarkets with meat departments and bulk supplies from abattoirs and knackeries. Some pet shops also have fresh meat supplies.
Meat should be fresh and free from preservatives and any other additives. It should be obtained in large pieces, so you can see that it is not contaminated in any way, or contains any additive. Meat from knackeries is required by law to be sprayed with a dye, this is reputed to be harmless. Meat is easy to cut up with a sharp knife. The knife should be kept sharp with a steel, a patent sharpener, or one brand at least supplies its own sharpener with the knife sheaf. If you have difficulty cutting meat, see to your knife, it is probably blunt. Meat that has been minced will not keep as well, and it will lose a lot of its value in feeding because of the deterioration of vitamins, essential fatty acids and loss of trace elements in the juices.
Meat, skeletal muscle, is enjoyed by the dog, it is a satisfying meal that provides much of the basic nutrients required by dogs and provided the calcium and cereal portions of the diet are made good, will keep the dog healthy and fit economically and to the advantage of the environment as well.=