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Where's The Beef? B.A.R.F. Feeding For Dogs

Dogs are prey animals that existed in the wild as carnivores eating primarily raw meat and bones. Wild dogs rarely ate grain and that helped them to stay lean and mean. Dogs today are our beloved pets but they are still carnivores and many people believe that they should be fed the same diet that wild dogs once ate. Unfortunately, most commercial pet food is filled with grains and chemicals that experts say may account for the rising rate of skin allergies, gastrointestinal problems and cancer.

An alternative to chemical laden commercial foods that poisoned pets in 2007 is the B.A.R.F. (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) Diet. The B.A.R.F. diet is controversial yet millions of people have switched to this way of feeding their dogs. Read on to discover some of the facts and controversies surrounding this popular method of feeding dogs.

What Is The B.A.R.F. Diet?

A Veterinary Surgeon in Australia, Dr Ian Billinghurst, created the B.A.R.F. diet and recommends that owners feed their dogs bones, fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy. His theory is that it is better to feed a dog completely raw food, imitating the types of food eaten by their wild ancestors. What Food Can I Feed My Dog On The B.A.R.F. Diet?

There is much controversy in the B.A.R.F. community about what is included in the diet. Dr. Billinghurst states that vegetables and fruit are appropriate food to feed but others disagree. Most would agree that raw, meaty bones meat are a staple of the diet and that includes beef, chicken, deer, duck, game birds, goat, pork, lamb, fish, rabbit and veal. Some of the more controversial foods include eggs, vegetables, fruit, dairy, cooked cereals and supplements.

What About Handling Raw Food?

You should wash your hands before and after handling raw meat just (or wear disposable gloves) as you would while preparing food for humans. Be sure to disinfect cutting boards and countertops where meat is prepared. Many people believe that the dog digestive system is not as susceptible to salmonella, e-coli and parasites as humans. Many vets disagree.

How Much Food Is Fed Each Day?

On the B.A.R.F. diet dogs are fed according to their energy level. If your dog is very active it should be fed 2 to 3 % of their weight every day. A less active and more sedentary dog would get fed approximately 1% of their weight every day. This is not a precise measurement so it should be adjusted as your dog adapts to eating raw food. You should plan on feeding three or four times a day and preparing meals in advance.

What Are The Benefits Of Feeding Raw? There is no scientific evidence that supports added benefits from feeding your dog raw food, but there have been many studies showing that commercial food is poisonous to our pets. People who are feeding their dogs raw food report that they save money and their dogs have less body odor, less bowel movements, cleaner teeth and reduced illnesses and medical costs.

Can Every Dog Eat Raw?

The simple answer is no. Most healthy dogs can adapt to raw food but dogs that are very old or that have chronic and serious illnesses may not be appropriate candidates for this type of diet. Some dogs will simply refuse to eat raw food. You should talk to your vet before the switch but be prepared for the doctor to discourage you from making this decision. Some veterinarians are heavily influenced by commercial pet food companies because they make a great deal of money selling the product. Ask your vet if any patients feed their dogs raw food and ask if they experienced problems adjusting to the change in diet.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Again, this is anecdotal information but many people report a detox stage in feeding raw food. This means the dog is adjusting to the diet and getting rid of toxins in their body. Symptoms your pet may display include vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath and itchy skin. Supplementing your pet with Vitamins C and E may help. If your dog has these symptoms for more than three days after switching diets, take them to your local vet. Ask your vet about the best method for changing your dog’s diet.

Raw feeding is not for every dog nor will it work for every owner. Be careful whenever you change the diet of your pets. Some proponents of raw food insist that a “cold turkey” switch is better but most vets will disagree and say changes should be made gradually. Educate yourself by doing research and reading some of the great books available on raw feeding before making the switch.

Bonnie Jo Davis is an animal lover who is active in animal rescue. She is the author of “50 Fantastic Recipes For Dogs” and “50 Fantastic Recipes For Cats” and created downloadable pet food recipe cookbooks for those people who want to feed a more natural diet but do not want to handle raw meat.

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