Lets talk about the BARF diet…
The raw food diet was first proposed by an Australian veterinarian in 1993. Dr. Ian Billinghurst called his raw food diet the BARF diet, or the Bones And Raw Food diet. BARF also stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
The concept of the BARF diet is pretty straightforward. Dr. Billinghurst suggested that adult canines would do very well on an evolutionary-based diet, which is pretty much eating raw meat and bones. This diet is based on the natural diet of wild dogs and wolves about 15,000 years ago before the common dog became domesticated.
It is easy to see why fellow veterinarians and the FDA disagreed with this claim, but the benefits are simply hard to ignore.
We will discuss the pros and cons of raw dog chow so you can determine if the raw diet or BARF diet is right for your pet.
What is the BARF diet?
It is as simple as feeding your dog bones, raw meat, veggies, and fruits as opposed to canned dog food or dry kibble.
Under the BARF diet, it is safe to feed your dog human-grade raw meat like beef, lamb, and even chicken. The diet also consists of raw meaty bones and certain vegetables like celery and spinach.
The raw dog food diet will also consist of the following:
- Whole or ground bones
- Organ meat like livers and kidneys
- Apples or other types of fruit
- Raw eggs
What are the Pros and Cons of the Raw Dog Food Diet?
I personally feed my dog dry kibble interchanged with a raw meat diet from time to time, preferably 2 or 3 times a week. I am not a clinical expert when it comes to raw dog feeding, but I did notice a marked improvement in the appearance and general well-being of my Pitbull.
Other dog owners seem to agree with me. They even surmised that constantly feeding your pooch canned or commercial-grade dog food might turn out to be harmful in the long run. Here are the pros of a raw dog food diet:
- Softer and shinier coats
- Cleaner teeth that are void of harmful plaque and tartar
- Healthier skin
- Better digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Better weight management
- Smaller and firmer stools
The list could go on and on. While feeding your dog raw food might sound appealing, it will be beneficial to understand the cons of raw dog as well.
- Bacterial contamination such as E.coli and salmonella
- Increased risk of choking on bones or other food parts
- Risk of health damage due to an unbalanced diet
- Increased risk of teeth or gum damage
- The raw dog food diet is more expensive and time-consuming
I understand the pros and cons… Should I try the raw diet for my pooch?
Looking at the facts at hand, it is easy to assume the raw dog food diet is better and more beneficial than feeding your dog canned dog food.
In my humble opinion, it is better and more economical to feed your dog a mixture of commercial and raw dog food. Premium quality dog food provides balanced nutrition so your doggy is at a lesser risk of developing health issues due to lack of nutrition.
Another thing to consider is the cost. In order to feed a 30-pound dog, you will need to shell out about $2.50 for an entire day’s supply of commercial raw chicken. If you want to feed your doggy raw lamb or premium beef, the cost will shoot up to around $5 or $6 for a day’s worth of raw food.
Compare this with feeding your dog the best commercially available dry dog food at around $1 per day, the difference in price is glaring. But then again, if you can afford it, then why not?
Before starting on a new diet program for your pooch, it is better to first consult with your dog’s veterinarian. Do not feed raw dog food if your dog has the following medical conditions:
- Kidney disease or liver disease. The raw dog food diet is typically high on protein and should be avoided if your pup has kidney or liver issues.
- Digestive issues like pancreatitis.
- Cancer, or if your dog is on chemotherapy.
- Puppies should NOT be given raw food.
Should I be concerned about bacterial contamination if I decide to feed my dog raw food?
You have every right to be concerned about bacterial contamination. Back in 2004, the FDA issued suggestions on a safer way to manufacture raw pet food due to the health risks associated in handling commercial raw meat.
In a 2006 study of raw meat diets, it was determined that 7.1% contained salmonella, while 57% of raw meat diets were found to contain E.coli bacteria. The bacteria can be passed on to the feces of the animal. This can become an alarming source of human exposure when Fido decides to defecate on the living room carpet with elderly people and kids nearby.
On the other hand, even raw meat designed for human consumption are not immune to bacterial infection. The trick is to be more vigilant when it comes to cleanliness. If you bought raw meat (from a reputable shop) to feed your dog and you chopped it up in the kitchen countertop, don’t forget to clean up and disinfect the area (including the knife you used to chop the meat) before preparing lunch or dinner for the family.
Basic common sense goes a long way in preventing bacterial infection or contamination.
If you think your dog is not getting enough nutrition from canned or commercially available dog foods, you can try interchanging his/her diet with the raw dog food diet after careful consultation with a veterinarian.
Think the raw dog food diet is a bit too carnal for your pooch? You can also try cooked homemade dog food recipes which are more nutritionally balanced without the stigma of bacterial infection.