The BARF diet: what is it?
Have you ever heard of the BARF dog diet? Do you know that this diet is healthy and facilitates digestion?
Recommended by Dr. Billinghurst in 1993, this diet appeals to dog owners. Light and natural, this organic food provides the dog with all the necessary nutrients for his development.
Description of the BARF
BARF stands for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food“.
It is a diet that consists of feeding the dog with raw meat and giblets, vegetables as well as fresh and mashed fruit in order to enhance his carnivorous nature.
The dog's diet should be similar to that of his cousins the wolf and the fox. According to Dr. Billinghurst, industrial feeding poses risks to dogs' health, including overweight dogs, reproductive problems and diabetes. And according to him, cereals and cooked food are not suitable for dogs either.
Here is the composition of a good BARF diet for your dog: meaty bones, boneless meat, giblets (heart, liver, kidney), vegetables, fruit, oil and natural food supplements (beer yeast, dairy products, …).
More specifically, BARF is a regular home diet without farinaceous products. A portion is low in carbohydrates but high in protein. This can be beneficial for dogs with diabetes or cancer.
The benefits of the BARF diet for the dog
- Health benefits : stools are softer and thinner than with processed food. Muscles stay toned, fur looks nice thanks to the chemical-free protein and vitamins.
- Strong, clean teeth: chewing raw bone has the same effect as a toothbrush. Teeth are clean and shiny again. The BARF diet strengthens teeth and removes tartar.
- A diet that dogs like: a dog that grunts at his bowl of kibble regains appetite for BARF food just by smelling the fresh meat. His carnivorous instincts come out. There's nothing more beautiful than a good meal prepared by his master and he won't leave anything behind.
- A diet that fills up: the daily ration is more generous than one made of kibble. 200g of kibble is equivalent to 600g of BARF in caloric intake. The BARF fills a large volume of the dog's bowl and stomach, making it more filling.
- A diet for all dogs: it is suitable for all dogs, whether they are old, sick or nursing females. The owner can choose the ingredients that make up the food according to dog's need. You just have to check and adjust the quantity in order to have a balanced meal. You can also add nutritional supplements if necessary.
Disadvantages of BARF
However, some veterinary nutritionists do not have the same positive opinion on BARF. This diet even has a bad reputation, it could be detrimental to canine health.
- First of all, it is difficult to calculate nutrient intakes; there is a risk of imbalance that can lead to excess or deficiency, which can be detrimental to your dog's health. It is essential to consult your veterinarian before opting for BARF, so that you get to know the typical menu with the precise amount to be used.
- Secondly, a BARF diet is much more expensive than other types of food, especially for large dogs because the amount of raw meat is significative. The total cost of the ingredients is therefore higher. All ingredients must be of good quality and fresh, so the prices are higher.
- BARF is not for absent owners, it requires a lot of preparation time. Mashing the vegetables, weighing all the ingredients for one portion is not easy.
- Then, the uncooked meat can contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning and parasitosis.
- Finally, it is difficult to have someone take care of a dog fed with BARF, especially older dogs that are sent to dog centres for older or sick dogs. The owner is used to the preparation of BARF, which is not necessarily the case for the centre's staff.
Good to know about BARF
Here are a few things you should know about BARF.
- A bowl of BARF is composed of: 40% meaty bones, 40% raw meat, 10% giblets, 10% vegetables and fruit and dietary supplements.
- This diet should be handled with care with puppies and older dogs as they are the more sensitive. Nutritional requirements are not the same, an overdose of protein can have a severe impact on the health of a puppy and older dog.
- Please store meat in a freezer at -20°C to avoid bacteria.
- BARF rations compared to nutritional recommendations for healthy and sick dogs, École Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort (2011)
- Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review, Daniel P. Schlesinger and Daniel J. Joffe (2011)
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