While a BARF diet might not sound like the most appetizing food for your dog, the acronym stands for either Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, depending on the source. As a dog owner, you want to make sure you've feeding Fido the best diet for his size, age and breed. Ask your vet about the best food for your particular dog.
What Is A Raw Food Diet?
Raw food diets consist of unprocessed, uncooked raw materials. That includes bones. While you might have been warned over the years not to feed your dog bones, BARF proponents allege that cooked bones are dangerous and can splinter, but raw bones are part of a canine's natural diet. A sample recipe from Show Dog Magazine not only includes raw meat such as hamburger and liver, but also carrots, potatoes, spinach and other vegetables. Supplemental feeding recommended in this typical recipe includes banana, egg yolks and vitamins. You can make your own BARF diet, or purchase frozen or freeze-dried raw food in pet stores.
According to Dr. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian veterinarian who popularized the BARF diet in his book, "Give Your Dog A Bone," published in 1993, BARF is an evolutionary diet based on dogs' wolf ancestry. He claims that the best diet for dogs consists of the same ingredients eaten by their wild ancestors, including not just meat with raw bones, but certain vegetables materials, usually found in the intestines of their prey. Modern commercial dogs foods contain grains, which was never eaten by wolves. Billinghurst alleges that in his veterinary practice, he sees a great difference in dogs fed a commercial diets and those eating BARF.
What Are The Benefits?
BARF advocates claim that a raw food diet makes a dog's teeth cleaner and healthier; produces smaller stools as less wasteful food is consumed; gives dogs additional energy; and makes their coats and skin shinier and healthier. Dogs eating BARF have better breath. Those suffering from gastrointestinal problem might improve or return to normal function on a BARF diet.
What Are The Risks?
Anytime you feed your dog raw food, bacterial contamination is always a possibility. Despite what BARF advocates say, raw bones can cause internal injuries in a dog or choking. Commercial dog foods are nutritionally balanced to meet all of a dog's needs, which might be lacking in a homemade diet. If your dog suffers from kidney or liver disease, a BARF diet isn't appropriate because of its high protein content. Feeding puppies a raw diet might mean bone growth issues if the phosphorous and calcium balance in their food isn't correct. If your dog has a compromised immune system, he shouldn't eat a raw diet because of the risk of contamination.
- BARF World: Dr. Billinghurst - Meet Dr. Ian Billinghurst B.V.Sc. (Hon) B. Sc. Agr. Dip. Ed..
- Web MD: Raw Dog Food - Dietary Concerns, Benefits, and Risks
- Showdog Magazine: Complete Raw Dog Food Recipe BARF
- The Skept Vet: Raw Veterinary Diets
- Science-Based Medicine: Raw Meat and Bone Diets for Dogs - It’s Enough to Make You BARF
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.