I'm sure you've been hearing a lot about BARF diets lately. What exactly is a BARF diet? Well, as the title of this article states, it is Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. Basically, it means feeding your dog raw bones, meat and vegetables.
Many health conscious veterinarians are now beginning to support this type of diet over commercially prepared dog foods. Why? Because most manufactured dog foods contain a tremendous amount of grain products (which dogs have a hard time digesting), are lacking in vitamins and minerals, plus contain added ingredients such as food coloring, cancer-causing preservatives, and artificial flavors, just to name a few unsavory ingredients.
What Are The Benefits Of A BARF Diet?
The truth is there are a lot of healthy advantages to switching your dog over to a raw food diet. Aside from the nasty ingredients listed above, this diet is much easier for your dog to digest and provides a multitude of vitamins and minerals that he/she would not normally get.
Owners of dogs that have switched have found that problems such as skin irritations, food allergies, weight problems and a host of various diseases have been significantly improved through this diet. I can attest to this fact myself. My dog has stopped vomiting her food up after eating, no longer sheds enough to make 10 sweaters in a day, has not had any episodes of stiffness with her arthritis in over 2 years, and her teeth are sparkling clean with...get this... no bad breath! Another benefit is that she no longer has that "doggy smell," even after coming in from the rain.
However, the overall benefit of the BARF diet is the improved health and vitality of your dog. You will also find that your dog will produce fewer stools that are smaller and not as smelly, making clean up easier.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A Raw Food Diet?
Like with everything else, there are good points and there are bad points. The two biggest problems with this diet are:
1) It takes longer to prepare. Obviously, you aren't just scooping out a bunch of kibble and tossing it into a bowl. A BARF diet requires you to measure and weigh the correct amount of meat, bones and vegetables according to your dog's weight. A rule of thumb is to serve your dog 2% to 3% of their body weight. My dog weighs 75 pounds; therefore I give her 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of food per day (divided up with a meal in the morning and one at suppertime). Most owners buy their meat in bulk then repackage it into daily servings and freeze. Vegetables should be chopped up fine. At least 50% of the meal should contain meat and bones.
2) It can be slightly more expensive than commercial dog food (unless you're currently using a premium brand - in which case this raw diet will probably be cheaper). If you keep your eyes open and watch for sales, you can get a good amount of meat on sale for a greatly reduced cost. It pays to invest in a deep freeze for those times when you can buy a large bulk of meat at a great price and stock up the freezer with pre-packaged meals.
What About Parasites and Choking On Bones?
A dog's stomach has a much shorter digestive tract than humans and it is very acidic. Therefore it quickly kills bacteria and most parasites. The only recommendation that I would make is not to feed your dog raw pork. Some raw dog food advocates state that pork is okay for dogs, however pork carries some parasites that will attach themselves to the intestinal walls. Even cooking pork may not eliminate these larvae. I prefer to be safe rather than sorry, so I tend to stick with beef and chicken.
As for bones, on occasion a dog may have a problem with bones. However this rarely occurs. Most problems with bones occur if they are cooked as then they can splinter and the sharp edges will lodge and pierce the esophagus, stomach lining or intestines. I take the time to carefully check over the raw bones my dog gets, such as when I buy those packages of chicken legs and thighs (attached together). I find there is a ribbing of bones along the thigh that I cut off as some of the bones are very sharp. Mainly, just do a quick check and cut off any small, sharp bones that you find. Bones are important because they provide calcium and help to clean your dog's teeth as they crunch them.
Before switching your dog over to a raw food diet, you should take the time to research more about this approach. Talk to your veterinarian, as well as talking to others who already have their dogs on this diet. There are many forums online that you can visit and post questions to. There are also several books regarding this subject that will help you with your decision. Feeding a BARF diet is definitely a way to improve the overall health of your dog, and more importantly, you know exactly what your dog is eating.
B.A.R.F. Diets: Biologically Appropriate Raw Food For Your Dog
by Rose Smith
Rose Smith owns www.CaringForCanines.com Where dog owners can explore the benefits of holistic dog medicines and remedies. Find information on topics such as: dog nutrition, dog health problems, herbal &vitamin supplements, dog grooming, and more.