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Pets and BARF Diets: Raw Food Diet for Dogs

The acronym in BARF Diet stands Biologically Appropriate Raw food and also stands for Bones And Raw food and the ideology behind it is that each animal has specialized dietary requirements and if they don't receive their biologically appropriate diet the end result will be detrimental to their health. The people promoting BARF and raw food for dogs, would like us to take a look for a moment at the natural world all around us; and see that without exception not one animal on earth naturally eats a diet of cooked food . For this reason you could also call BARF an evolutionary diet, natural diet or species appropriate diet. The driving idea behind this new movement is that a BARF diet is exactly what our pets naturally need and deserve.

Obviously feeding our pets a wholly natural
or biological appropriate diet is an approach to feeding that while not entirely new is a drastic departure from today's pet's normal diet, which is built entirely on grain based commercial pet foods. This BARF ideology promotes the use of evolutionary species appropriate diets and is based on feeding pets whole, raw, natural foods including whole raw meaty bones among other things. These BARF diets are becoming widely accepted and have a large following of pet owners, knowledgeable veterinarians and concerned scientist as well as their fair share of heavy hitting detractors.

All hype aside, what is the thinking behind using BARF diets?
It is the belief that dogs, cats (and all living animals) have evolved over many millions of years and that their diets have evolved with them. This would of course imply that the best food type of food diet for a dog or cat would be what they in their natural state eat. While this theory is both accepted and promoted by zoologists worldwide, when it comes to wild animals living in zoos, it doesn't enjoy the same acceptance within the world of pets and pet specialists. The promoters of biologically appropriate diets and evolutionary nutrition believe that modern grain based processed pet foods manufacturers are not telling us the whole truth when they say that it is difficult if not impossible for normal pet owners or even vets to correctly feed modern pets. BARF followers say that pet food companies claim that only their scientists are capable of determining what is a proper and workable nutritional diet for domestic pets.
One of the driving forces behind this revolutionary new ideology of biologically appropriate diets is
Dr. Ian Billinghurst who happens to be among the first proponents of the BARF diet and has authored several books on the subject of biologically appropriate diets and evolutionary nutrition. He believes and advocates the BARF diet as the most successful means of achieving an actual and natural good health in pet animals. While not everyone is convinced it must be noted that the incredible reports of the increased healthiness seen in pets fed the BARF diet are creating a pet food revolution within the community of veterinarians, pet breeders and owners worldwide. Feeding your pet a BARF diet simply means not feeding your pet cooked or processed food but rather what your dog would eat if it was living in the wild in its natural habitat and what today's wild dogs eat as a result of the long but natural process of evolution. This would mean not feeding your pet diets based on cooked grains, which is the basis of all of today's commercial processed pet foods. The proponents of BARF are quick to point out that this new way of looking at pet diets does not imply that people choosing to feed their dogs BARF need to go hunting for raw freshly killed meat or send their dogs out to hunt. What they point out is that a BARF diet aims to copy, not be identical to, the evolutionary diet of dogs and cats. This is a very important difference as it means someone who chooses to feed their pet a BARF diet will try to closely follow the natural diet of their pet but not try and replicate this natural diet in their own homes. To be perfectly honest it would be impossible and irresponsible for a normal household to try and feed any domestic animal its natural diet, much less try and allow it to live under its natural evolution chosen conditions and or habitat. This is because of an important point that the natural diet of dogs and cats in the wild poses many and serious threats to the safety and well being of these animals. The basis of the BARF diet and belief is feeding dogs and cats appropriately and with their good health first and foremost in mind. The backers and supporters of BARF say that their goal is to maximize the health, longevity and reproductive capacity of pets while at the same time minimize the need for veterinary intervention.
So how exactly are you supposed to feed a pet properly? According to the BARF nutritionists it is by feeding it the diet that it has evolved with it or it's evolutionary diet. According to Dr Ian Billinghurst the BARF diet is simple in philosophy and construction because it looks at the diet of wild or feral animals and mimics that type of dietary system but at the same time using whole raw foodstuffs that are readily available to pet owners everywhere. BARF proponents also point out that these diets may be enhanced with various supplements and they say that once the principles are understood, almost everybody is capable of doing this and no extended or highly specialized education is necessary.

A BARF diet comprises of:

60% Meaty Bones 60%-70% of which are RAW chicken bones, the remainder (30%-40%) being bones from RAW lamb, rabbit, beef, pork, venison etc.
40% Other food Stuff Green leafy vegetables should make up about 60%-70% of the vegetable part of the diet, with grain and starchy vegetables being between 20%-30%. The offal portion of the diet, that is liver, kidneys and hearts etc., should be about 5%-15% of the diet. Throw in some eggs two to three times a week, more often if you wish.Listed below are benefits that BARF dog owners have shared:
  • Vet bills are generally reduced after switching to a nutritious species appropriate diet.
  • Dog's teeth are naturally cleaned by eating raw meaty bones.
  • Clean breath and no doggie odor after changing to BARF feeding
  • Ripping and chewing raw meaty bones develops the neck, jaw and shoulder muscles of dogs.
  • Stools are smaller and quickly degrade into the soil.
  • Dogs tend to maintain a healthy weight and the chances of obesity are minimized since it takes longer to chew and digest raw meaty bones.
  • Kibble may sit around for hours untouched but dogs tend to be excited and love their BARF species appropriate meals.
  • Health problems such as arthritis, lack of energy, allergies, skin conditions and dull coats often improve when switching from commercial dog food to BARF raw feeding.
  • Ability to custom tailor your dogs' diets for their activity level, age, health problems and specific nutritional requirements.
BARF: An Evolutionary Diet

It is of course the dream of all pet owners to have healthy, happy and fit animals. But are we as simple pet owners really capable of giving our dogs and cats healthier diets than those offered by the processed pet food manufactures? If you want to find out whether or not there is more to thisBARFideology than just hot air then you will have to do some open minded research into the issue yourself. Of course we want our dogs and cats to eat naturally and most of us go to great lengths and spend enormous sums so that our pets can receive the nutrition that they need. But are our dollars ill spent? An important fact to consider is that as conscious as people are becoming concerning the dangers of hormones, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotic supplements etc…. in our food intake very few people stop to think about the consequences of opening a can or bag of dog food into their pet's food bowl. Look at the situation in another way, most parents would never consider feeding their families canned food or processed fast food every day of the week month after month; but what about our pets? Many vets are now beginning to draw dotted line between many modern day pet infirmities and the highly processed diets they receive. Of course there are conscientious pet food companies that do their best to provide good quality food for our pets but over all it seems that most of these manufacturers are content with selling us substandard meals with contents you wouldn't eat if you were forced to. So the question is, if you wouldn't give it to your children why are you forcing your dog to live on it? Do you want to begin feeding your dog or cat a healthier diet? Do you have a hunger for valid information on pet nutrition? Whether you have a new puppy or kitten and want to give them a healthy start on life or you have an older dog with health problems and want to add more nutritious raw food to its diet by reading up on BARF you just might find what it is that you are looking for in order to help give your pet that healthy edge it deserves. If you choose to use the BARF diet or not it is still a wonder that we insist on feeding our pets processed pet foods when the theory that two species of animal, dogs and cats, can live better on a diet for which their bodies are totally inapt rather than their evolutionary diet!

Dogs and BARF Diets: Dog BARF Diet

Lets look more closely at dogs and both their evolutionary habits and needs as it related to
BARF Diets. The dog is classed as an omnivore, a hunter and a scavenger, and their diets should be based on a wide range of whole raw foods of both animal and plant origin. It is interesting to note that wild dogs, which hunt for their food , eat the innards of their prey first. This area of the animal contains the intestines and stomach, which in the case of herbivores is full of vegetation. Even domesticated dogs need to get this kind of well balanced diet in the course of their meals. Dogs that eat only meat can develop what is referred to as "all meat syndrome" which is the result of an imbalance of calcium and phosphorous ratios in their diets. The results of this syndrome can be fragile bones, weight loss, joint diseases, diarrhea and a poor looking coat. The nutrients that dogs need are the same as humans: protein, fat and carbohydrates. Amazingly enough they even need them in about the same percentages as a human's daily calorie intake. Similar to humans, dog's nutritional needs and even dietary likes change through out their lives. The dog's health, age, activities, sexual maturity and environment all play a part in the canine's dietary needs. Both felines and canines rely on bones as a major part of their diet for a variety of reasons including teeth cleaning and the numerous nutritional benefits of bones.
A BARF (biologically appropriate diet) diet for a dog is one that consists of raw whole foods like to those eaten by the dogs wild relatives. The food must contain the same equilibrium and type of ingredients as consumed by those undomesticated ancestors. This food will include such things as muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meat and vegetable materials and any other "foods" that will mimic what those wild ancestors ate. It is important to note that modern dogs of all breeds are not only able of eating the food of their wild ancestors, but actually need it for maximum health. This is because their basic bodily processes have changed very little with domestication despite obvious and dramatic changes in their current corporal appearance and way of thinking. The taxonomy as a carnivore does not necessarily mean that a dog's diet must be restricted to animal protein alone. Unlike a true obligate carnivore, such as a cat, a dog is able to healthily digest a variety of foods including vegetables and grains, and in fact requires a large proportion of these in its diet. Wild canines typically get such nutrients from the stomach contents of their herbivorous prey, which they consume readily. Dogs can even survive perfectly well on a reasonably carefully designed vegetarian diet, particularly if eggs and milk products are included but because dogs are natural carnivores they normally require the presence of meat in their diets. And scientific studies suggest that under such extreme stress, high protein diets (which implies a lot of meat consumption) help prevent damage to muscle tissue and help to promote better health even under these stressful situations. Another interesting thing we see in nature is when looking at young wolves growing up because we are observing our dog's young ancestors. If we couple what we see in nature with modern scientific discoveries about diet, health and aging, we are better able to produce a realistic, health promoting, evolutionary puppy diet. From studying the eating habits of wolf cubs we see that they are almost always hungry, subsist entirely on raw food made up mostly of bones (left over from the pack's kill) and then being forced to forage a wide variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, and by looking closely at this information we get vital clues about truly natural puppy raising.

BARF Diet For Dog Made Simple!

Before I started feeding my dog BARF diets and he had all kinds of ailments and health problems. Now I know that you are probably wondering if I have lost it or have some loose screws but let me explain. BARF is an acronym for Biological Appropriate Raw food and is a wonderful new way of looking at what we are feeding our pets. Since a BARF diet means feeding your pet a diet of food for which its digestive system and body is most well suited it means that your pet is getting the proteins, nutrients, vitamins, etc in the way that nature intended for them to get it. The fact that Azul my dog eats with a relish and is suffering from so many fewer ailments than when he was eating dry dog food tells me that not only is BARF good and nutritious for him but he finds it tasty as well. In the past I always had trouble getting him to finish his food but this is no longer one of his troubles, in fact when meal times rolls around he is eagerly waiting to see what natures got on the menu for that day. The concept behind
BARF (also know as: Bones and Raw food ) is simple and uncomplicated. It is a basic diet for your carnivore animal and is comprised of raw meat and meaty bones, grated or juiced vegetables, essential fatty acids with some nutritional supplements as needed. Your dog can not and should not go from eating a diet of processed commercial dog food to eating a BARF diet over night as doing this would cause your dog even more serious problems than those you would be conquering by feeding it this relatively new and definitely healthier diet. The transition should be slow especially if your dog has any sicknesses or prior stomach problems. You should gradually switch your dog's diet by adding the whole raw foods to its commercial dog food diet. Your dog's diet will eventually consist of lamb, chicken, beef or pork meat cooked, raw, assorted, juiced vegetables (carrots, peas, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, turnip, sweet potatoes, or whatever is handy), eggs, honey, garlic, flaxseed oil alternating with olive, primrose, fish oil, Ester C, Alfalfa, Kelp, among other things. You will also need to give your dog some other vitamin supplements like B complex, zinc and vitamin E by adding it to their food a couple of times a week. During the transition phase of your dog's diet you will find that probiotics and digestive enzymes are necessary to help it digest the new foods in its body. Also you should give it a good quality multi-vitamin daily. Remember that your dog's body is being faced with new food items that it has never had to digest before and so it needs help to process and assimilate the food until it can manufacture the digestive enzymes itself. Probiotics are known as "good" bacteria that aid in digestion and assimilation of nutrients within the digestive tract. With time you will be able to switch your dog to eating an entire raw foods diet including raw meat. The plan behind this BARF diet is simple but you will need to be paying close attention to your pet's health when feeding this type of diet. Let's say that one day your dog has loose stool, well you will need to sit down and figure out what was different in the diet that may have caused the loose stool and change it. If you pet is losing or putting on weight due to its dietary change then you will need to make adjustments to correct the problem. The other important factor when feeding this diet is to include diversity. Offer your pet many different types of food to eat. The more the variety he/she eats, the more nutrients are available for digestion and assimilation.
One last very important point is that dogs and cats are two different species and thus must be fed different diets. A cat is an obligate (true) carnivore and can only live very well by eating an almost exclusive meat diet. A dog on the other hand is more of a secondary carnivore and needs a mixture of different food ingredients (meat, vegetables, yogurt, dairy, etc.) to satisfy its nutrient necessities.
Plan for BARF: Now I want to give you a basic explanation of how I prepare my dog's BARF diet. Of course this is just an example to demonstrate how easy it is for anyone to feed his or her pet a BARF diet. Please keep in mind that this example is only to offer information and actually the BARF diet may not be beneficial for your pet. Understand that there are many different methods and ways to plan and feed a BARF diet and what you must do is figure out what Biological Appropriate Raw food diet best suits you and your pet. I have found that preparing my dog's pet food in big amounts and then freezing the food in meal size quantities works that best, is the easiest way to go about it and saves money as well. The recommended daily serving suggestion is one half pound of food for every twenty-five pounds of doggie body weight.

BARF diet ingredients

Work out how much whole raw food you need to make for your situation. For pets that weigh fifty pounds, plan on giving them one pound of dog food daily as this is usually the correct amount. So if you will need one pound a day you can make ten pounds at a time so that it lasts for ten days.
  • To find the ingredients and provisions that you will need you can call wholesale meat and vegetable outlets for economically priced, good quality meat and vegetable foods. You can also talk with your neighborhood butcher where you can get your meat pre-ground and find fresh organ meats and bone dust. Another place to go for value foods is grocery stores which often have discount racks with good quality inexpensive produce.
  • Now that you know where to find what you need its time to go out and do that shopping. All of these items can be used in a BARF pet diet.
    Meat: lamb, chicken, beef, turkey, etc…
    Vegetables: broccoli, turnip, celery, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, cabbage, dark or light greens, etc… (with vegetables diversity and variety is the key.
    Plus: eggs, bone meal or bone powder, honey, apple cider vinegar, apples, organ meats, garlic, etc…

  • BARF Diet Preparation

    Once you have all of your ingredients in the quantities that you will need you are ready to make Biological Appropriate Raw food pet food. To prepare the pet food for your dog or cat you will need a food processor and mixing bowls. If the meat you use is pre-ground from the butcher it will make your task easier. It is very important to always disinfect your counters before beginning with the preparation of food
    • Put your ground meat to one side.
    • Place an assortment of vegetables together with apples and garlic in the food processor. After blending them well put into a bowl and put them to the side.
    • Now blend your organ meats in the food processor and put them to the side as well.
    • Place some eggs together with their shells in the food processor and process until the eggshells are finely blended.
    • Now in a large mixing bowl put the meat, vegetables, organ meats, eggs and mix them up together. Here is when you want to add the honey, alfalfa, kelp, pre-ground flaxseeds, bone and Grapefruit Seed Extract to the mix. Be sure and combine all the ingredients thoroughly. The Grapefruit Seed Extract helps by killing bacteria or toxins that may be present during the preparation of the raw pet food
    • Once all of the ingredients are well mixed together you can put them into freezer bags. Depending on the size of your dog, weigh out one meal per freezer bag. You can also put enough food in each freezer bag for the entire days meals but this will depend on the size of your dog and the amount you will be giving it per meal.
    • Freeze the BARF raw pet food inside airtight freezer bags.

    BARF diet servings

    The best way to serve your pre-made BARF dog food is to take the next days meals out of the freezer the night before so that it can thaw. Put it in the fridge and then in the morning it will be ready for eating. If you feed your dog more than one time daily, this just means that you will need to divide up the raw food into the amount of individual meals that you need, for example half in the morning and half at night. Prior to serving your dog its BARF doggie food you can add these supplements your dog's meal: multi-vitamin/mineral, Ester C, digestive enzymes which are very important for your dog's digestive system at the start of eating a new raw food diet, probiotics and a blend of oils (your dog will need just a small amount). Just mix the supplements into the food and feed your dog.

    BARF diet treats:

    Besides the normal whole raw pet food that your dog will be eating you can also give it raw meaty bones, which will help keep its teeth clean and provide an assortment of important nutrients. You can also give your pooch the following as treats: table scraps, cottage cheese, yogurt, nuts, raisins, fruit, cheese, etc… It is vital to remember that variety is the primary key to successfully feeding the BARF diet.
    BARF and you: It is quite easy for anyone to put together and prepare a BARF diet for their dog especially when you prepare big amounts at a time this will help to keep the daily feeding from becoming complicated and time consuming. It is best that you study up on feeding this type of diet before making any changes in your dog's diet. You will find that there are many books, web sites, research articles and pet nutritionists available and on hand to help you become familiar with how and why to feed BARF.

    Diet Guide for Domestic Dogs

    Dingoes and feral cats keep themselves healthy by eating whole carcasses of prey animals. Ideally we should feed our pets in the same manner. Until a dependable source of whole carcasses becomes available, pet owners need a satisfactory alternative. The following recommendations, based on raw meaty bones, have been adopted by thousands of pet owners with excellent results. The diet is easy to follow and cheap, and pets enjoy it.
    • Fresh water constantly available. • Raw meaty bones (or carcasses if available) should form the bulk of the diet. • Table scraps both cooked and raw (grate or liquidize vegetables, discard cooked bones).
    Puppies and kittens
    From about three weeks of age puppies and kittens start to take an interest in what their mother is eating. By six weeks of age they can eat chicken carcasses, rabbits and fish.
    During the brief interval between three and six weeks of age it is advisable to provide minced chicken, chicken carcasses or similar for young animals (as well as access to larger pieces that encourage ripping and tearing). This is akin to the part-digested food regurgitated by wild carnivore mothers. Large litters will need more supplementary feeding than small litters. (The meat and bone should be minced together. Meat off the bone can be fed, but only for a short time, until the young animals can eat meat and bone together — usually about six weeks of age.)
    Between four and six months of age puppies and kittens cut their permanent teeth and grow rapidly. At this time they need a plentiful supply of carcasses or raw meaty bones of suitable size.
    Puppies and kittens tend not to overeat natural food . Food can be continuously available.

    This article was prepared by hired writers. Some of its content may or may not have been inspired by work done by: Jane at
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