Raw Feeding of Dogs


The philosophy behind using BARF is that the diet a dog or cat evolved to eat – over many millions of years of evolution – is the best way to feed it. If you want to feed your dog BARF, it means not feeding your dog cooked and or processed food. That is, not feeding your dog a diet based on cooked grains. Artificial grain based dog foods, it is claimed cause innumerable health problems.

A raw diet is believed to improve the nutritional value. The intense heat used to process commercial pet food reduces nutrients. Studies with rats showed that the digestibility of amino acids in cat food is changed significantly by heat processing. Taurine, an essential amino acid for cats, is reduced or eliminated in heat processing. Pet food manufacturers must add taurine supplements to cat food, which it is claimed by Barf proponents is generally unnecessary in a raw diet. Some raw feeders believe that supplements have reduced nutritional value compared to the same nutrients in raw food. Some raw diets, however, include supplements such as fish oil, Vitamin C, and apple cider vinegar, among others.

To quote the UK Barf Club (which appears to be industry sponsored by Natures Menu so not necessarily unbiased!) 'Dogs and cats in the wild lived off whole carcasses including the internal organs, and the content of the stomach which usually contains ground down, partially digested vegetation containing essential nutrients …. A BARF feeding diet is as close to nature as we can get with the right mix your pets will live a happier healthy life. '

Dr Billinghurst himself has written '"BARF is about feeding dogs properly." The aim of BARF is to maximize the health, longevity and reproductive capacity of dogs and by so doing, minimize the need for veterinary intervention. You feed it the diet that it evolved to eat … … Artificial grain based dog foods cause innumerable health problems. that consist of raw whole foods similar to those ate by the dogs' wild ancestors. The food fed must contain the same balance and type of ingredients as consumed by those wild ancestors. This food will include such things as muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meat and vegetable materials and any other foods that will mimic what was those wild ancestors ate. "

A pet on a Barf diet will eat as varied a raw diet as possible, with lots of raw meaty bones, eg chicken wings, chicken necks, rabbit, oxtail, minced meats, lamb shanks, eggs and their shells, liver, heart, fish , yoghurt, veg (pulped), fruit, garlic, etc.

Health benefits are claimed for this type of diet:

  • Reduced doggy odor.
  • Naturally cleans teeth – no need for toothbrushes, de-scaling jobs, helps prevent gum disease.
  • The time it takes for a dog to chew a raw meaty bones give their stomach time to get the pains moving.
  • Produces firmer stools with reduced quantity.
  • Can reduce vet bills (healthier dogs)
  • Economical to feed in comparison to commercial dog foods.
  • Mirrors what nature intended them to eat in the wild.
  • Puppies develop at a more appropriate rate and quick growth spurts are avoided. A GOOD breeder will want to stop fast growth in any pup.
  • The ripping and chewing involved in eating raw meaty bones develops the jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles of a dog.
  • Better weight control which helps to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and obesity.

There is plenty of advice on the web regarding feeding of puppies, kittens and adult pets on a raw food diet (a Google search for BARF brought up 4 million references) if this is something that interests you.

It would seem however that neither the American Veterinary Association nor the British Veterinary Association endorses the health benefits of raw food. Both organizations caution that animals fed raw meat run the risk of contracting food-borne illnesses. The BVA declares that "there is no scientific evidence base to support the feeding of raw meat and bones," and warns humans they risk exposing them to bacteria like salmonella. "

There are also concerns about providing a complete diet by feeding this way. Commercial diets contain vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that these are provided in the correct amounts – a raw diet is trickier in this respect, and human vitamin supplements are not appropriate for dogs.

Veterinarian John Burns has written a critique of the BARF diet and ends with this comment 'I suspect that any success claimed for the Raw Food system is due to a much more mundane explanation than its grandiose but erroneous philosophy. This is that any benefits are due to the avoidance of ingredients which cause dietary intolerance.

My main criticism of the BARF philosophy is its self-righteousness.

BARFism puts forward a flawed theory with a certainty which verses contrary to religious fundamentalism; it brooks no dissent. It advocates a system which is impractical and does not fit well into the lifestyle of present society, denouncing the potential of alternatives, thereby condemning those pet owners, the majority, to feelings of inadequacy for failure to follow its teachings. '


Source by John Birch

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