Devoted dog owners seeking the healthiest food for their pets may turn to the B.A.R.F. raw food approach – which offers both risks and rewards to your canine’s health.
Benefits of the BARF Raw Diet for Dogs
The recent recall of processed dog food still has pet owners searching for the healthiest alternatives to feed their canine friends. Natural kibble and canned dog foods take a slice of the niche market for those seeking less-processed or organic food for their pets; but many other dog owners opt to feed their dogs an unprocessed, raw food diet known as “BARF” – short for a “Bones And Raw Food” or “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food” Diet.
BARF feeders are vocal in their praise of a canine raw food diet, while those opposed to feeding dogs raw are equally outspoken about the hazards. Read on for some of the advantages and risks of the BARF dog diet.
What is in the BARF Diet?
The simplest form of the BARF diet contains raw meat, raw meaty bones (either whole or ground finely), vegetables and, usually, some kind of vitamin-rich food or supplement.
BARF is said to mimic the natural diet of dogs in the wild, who would be eating freshly killed meat, bones, and internal organs. Prey animals are typically herbivores whose digestive system would contain mashed grasses and vegetables, supplementing the diet of the dog.
An uncooked diet contains live enzymes, which aid digestion, and also makes vitamins and minerals more available.
Dog = Wolf?
One of the major (incorrect) arguments for feeding dogs raw is the belief that dogs evolved from wolves. There is no evidence to suggest that this is true. Dogs are able to breed viably (have fertile offspring) with wolves, dingos, and other wild dogs that all share similar ancestry – many of whom scavenge today off human waste, including cooked food.
None of this makes a really convincing argument for or against raw feeding. Raw food has benefits, and risks, whether or not dogs are descended from wolves.
Disadvantages of BARF
There are several criticisms of the BARF diet, including concerns about dietary balance, bacteria and parasites.
To read more about the arguments against a raw diet, see Troubleshooting the BARF Diet.
What to Expect on a Raw Diet:
Like a human on a raw food diet, one of the biggest of the diet’s benefits is an increase in energy. A dog may be more vital right away, or it may take time to see evidence of BARF’s benefits.
Less to Scoop
Because the diet is cleaner and more digestible, less waste is eliminated from the body. A change in the color or consistency of poop is also not unusual.
Because plaque is related to carbohydrates in food as much as to regular use of the teeth for chewing, a diet without carbs and starches (grains, potato) is said to naturally produce cleaner teeth.
Better Coat, Eyes, Skin
With better nutrition and no added bulk ingredients or preservatives, a raw diet brings out the best in most animals. Glowing good health is the norm for those who stick to the BARF diet for their pets.