Alas, more and more dog owners put the responsibility of feeding their dogs in the hands of corporate animal-feed manufacturers. And the reasons are simple to fathom: it’s easy, clean and it’s just what everybody else does. People trust their manufacturers, their vets, and their breeders.
These days the number of diseases are increasing dramatically. Cancer, allergies, pancreatitis, skin problems and many other diseases are very uncommon in dogs. It’s proven that a big part of these increasing health issues is food related. And this is where the BARF diet has a role to play.
What exactly is the BARF Diet?
BARF, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, imitates the diet of a wild dog, a wolf, and other carnivores. The whole diet is fed raw (as wolves didn’t have hob and pan to cook their rice in!) As well as prey, the wolf also eats fruit, herbs, berries, grasses, roots, insects, and also the insides of herbivores. Mostly, however, the wolf eats whole animals. Every part of an animal will be eaten except the larger bones, a large part of the skin and coat and a portion of the gastrointestinal contents. A paleo diet or prey diet would be a suitable BARF type of diet.
A wolf gets all the vital nutrients like protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and fiber by eating a whole animal. By biting through flesh and bone the teeth of a carnivore will be strong and clean. This also actually prevents their breath from smelling bad.
Dry food, on the other hand, contains such things as “animal by-products”, “poultry meal”, “dry-snip”, “fish meal” or “bone meal” and so on. The list, unfortunately, is very long. The chemicals, preservatives and flavor enhancers are all factors which allegedly increase illnesses. Apart from these very unnecessary and dangerous ingredients it also contains a large number of carbohydrates (usually 60-90%). A dog doesn’t need carbohydrates – it is part of the reason why 68% of dogs in the UK are overweight. Dogs look unhealthy, suffer hair loss, seem hungry all the time and have bad breath and low energy. All these symptoms are directly related to bad feeding.
How to transition towards a Raw Dog Food Diet?
The change to a raw diet seems more complicated than it actually is. Many people are worried about feeding the right amount of meat, bone, offal, and vegetable. But the reality is a lot easier than most people think. There are simple guidelines for creating a food plan and once put together it’s very easy to follow (there are many forums and pages online about this). Every dog is different. The amount of exercise, the size of the dog, and the level of activity all vary and so the menu plan needs to be tailored for each dog.
There are many positive attributes to the plan:
- You know EXACTLY what your dog eats as you put it together freshly every day
- A lot of products we already have in the fridge can be used even if they have recently passed their sell-by date or have gone “off”
- Many butchers would discard the stuff we can feed our dogs which also makes feeding our dogs cheap, often cheaper than the dry food (if vet bills are included then it’s definitely a lot cheaper!)
It is our responsibility as dog owners to care for our animals. This is why feeding has to involve more than going to the supermarket to buy a bag of food without reading the ingredients. How can a simple “guideline” on a dry food bag tell you the amount your dog needs? Your dog may be the exact same breed and age as the dog next door who never gets exercised. You, a responsible owner, may take your dog out 3 times a day and let it fetch a ball until it’s tired while the neighbor’s dog is only let out in the garden now and again. How can these dogs need the same amount of food? Simple questions like this switch the light on and make you realize that this is just another way of marketing…
Make a change and your dog’s health will prove to you that you made the right decision. And if you can, start early with raw feeding your puppies.
Written by Ursula Furter, from Avonwolf Malinois, for BreedingBusiness.com.