There has been much debate about the Raw Food Diet for dogs or BARF which stands for ‘Bones and Raw Food’ or ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’.
So what exactly is the Raw Food Diet? Well, it is exactly what it says on the tin. The premise behind the regime is that a dog’s evolutionary diet came from the wolf and as such, in a domestic environment, to optimize health, owners should seek to replicate or at least mimic this diet for their dogs.
This means feeding your dog raw meat and supplements as opposed to the processed cooked pet food which is readily available in the supermarket.
It is believed that, as the wolf is the dogs nearest ancestor and their anatomy and physiology are essentially the same, this means their digestive ability is also the same.
Furthermore it is believed that dogs are ultimately carnivores (meat eaters) as opposed to omnivores (meat and vegetable eaters). Although it is recognized that dogs and wolves can eat other foods apart from meat, they are first and foremost carnivores with an opportunistic streak.
Another claim from the raw food advocates is that dried food (kibble) is essentially bad for dogs and is responsible for a lot of the ailments and illnesses that our dogs suffer from today. It is claimed that by cooking food, valuable ‘live’ enzymes are lost that enable your dog (wolf) to digest its food properly.
Of course kibble and pet food manufacturers deny the claim that their foods are responsible for many modern day ailments. Furthermore, many veterinarians also believe that the raw food diet can be dangerous, not only to dogs via bacterial infections contracted from the uncooked meat, but to humans who may contact bacteria through poor food handling. Also, bacteria can be passed on through the fecal matter of dogs on a raw food diet.
This is counter claimed by the argument that dogs have very strong digestive juices which are capable of breaking down raw meat and destroying bacteria, and that the same hygiene protocols which are in place when preparing raw meat for humans need to be observed when preparing raw meat for dogs. In other words make sure all surfaces are clean etc. A similar ‘hygiene’ argument is put forward in respect of canine fecal matter i.e. steer clear like you normally would.
You can now buy raw dog food from pet food suppliers in the form of meals which also include vegetables, minerals and oils. Alternatively you can visit your local butcher.
Ultimately it is up to dog owners to decide how they feed their dogs. Most of us will want to provide our best friend with top quality food that is of the highest nutritional value.
There are many resources available on the internet on the pros and cons of a raw food diet. Whatever you decide; be sure to do your research first and, as always if you are concerned about the health of your dog; consult a veterinarian.