The Skinny on Raw Food Diets

There has been a slew of controversy over the years regarding feeding Fido a raw food diet. Some people claim that it is too difficult to measure the proper intake of all the needed nutrients for your dog to maintain his health and that dog food in a bag is already nutritious, while others claim that bagged food is complete rubbish; loaded with fillers and preservatives. So, which is it?

If we travel back to the days when our pets’ ancestors roamed the Earth, they ate a raw food diet. Animals and people were created to live independently on the materials the Earth provides. So in effect, if we can pull nutrients from the basic food groups, we don’t need pet food manufacturers to feed our pets, right? Yes and no. First, you have to be willing to provide your pet with fresh and nutritious food every day. Second, you need to commit to it because you’re doing it for your dog’s benefit and it’s something that will affect their health; it’s a lifestyle! If you don’t like to cook or you won’t stick with it, don’t change his diet.

What is the BARF diet?
BARF is an acronym for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. This diet was proposed by an Australian veterinarian in 1993. He suggested that because canines thrived on meats and vegetables long before they became domesticated there is no reason that they shouldn’t thrive on those things today. Feeding dogs processed foods, filled with grains, is unnatural and unhealthy. This is a likely cause for many of the allergies and health problems dogs suffer from on a daily basis.

Of course, there are many discrepancies to this theory. Not surprisingly, the leading rebutters include the FDA and dog food companies with “scientific” proof. One thing you must remember is that these agencies are companies, and their business is to promote their brand of pet food. With that in mind, let’s talk more about raw food diets.

Potential benefits of feeding your dog a BARF diet:

  • Shiny coats: Many dogs that eat processed food shed more and lose their coats luster.
  • Healthy skin: Many dogs have sensitive skin and allergies related to processed foods.
  • Cleaner teeth: Raw bones naturally fight plaque and keep jaws and teeth strong.
  • Increased energy: Compare how you feel after eating an apple to a bag of chips.
  • Smaller stools: Raw, natural foods produce firmer and less stool than artificial foods.

Potential risks of feeding your dog a BARF diet:

  • Bacteria in raw meat
  • Unbalanced diet
  • Choking on bones

Anyone who considers a raw food diet already knows that there are lots of factors that go into it. It’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility to make sure you’re feeding your dog a healthy and balanced diet when you are fulfilling the guidelines yourself rather than counting on someone else to do it for you. There are benefits and risks, although most of the risks are geared toward dogs with medical conditions that need to be addressed. Even still, with proper education, these special circumstance dogs can benefit greatly from natural foods.

What Foods are Fed?
The most popular foods that are fed in a raw food diet include:

  • Muscle meat with bone
  • Ground or whole bones
  • Organ meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Broccoli, spinach, celery
  • Fruits
  • Dairy

My conclusion is that you should only experiment with a homemade raw food diet if you are completely committed to improving your dog’s health and are ready to do extensive research about quantities, proportions, and the chemistry of what your dog needs to thrive. Too much or too little of each nutrient and vitamin could lead to devastating health problems for your dog. Kidney failure and bone deformations are only two of the serious problems that could be encountered with a raw food diet. However, if you are serious about it and want to learn more, you could eliminate and prevent many serious health concerns that plague dogs that are fed processed foods.

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