The BARF diet for dogs: it is not what you think

You love your dog Frankie, right? Of course you do and you want the best for him. That’s why you buy premium organic dog food from him. Have you ever stopped to consider what’s in prepared dog food and whether or not it’s best for Frankie? Most of us don’t. We read that veterinarians helped determine the ingredients and that the food contains the right balance of nutrients for your dog’s optimal health. It seems like the right thing to do, but what if there was a better way for Frankie to eat?

What’s in commercial dog food?

Read the ingredient label on the dog food. You’ll likely see a long list of elements, some of which you recognize, like whole grain corn, and some you don’t, like choline chloride. Chances are the items he understands are far outweighed by the ones that leave him scratching his head. Many of those bewildering ingredients are perfectly fine. There are added vitamins and minerals with complex-sounding names. One of the real concerns with dog food is the amount of grain used in commercial foods. Grains are not a natural part of the diet of the wolf, your Frankie’s distant ancestor. So why do we put it in your food? Eating a lot of grains, especially wheat, can cause some health problems, such as dermatitis, which is a very common allergy in dogs.

An alternative: the BARF diet

No, you are not expected to feed Frankie predigested foods. BARF stands for Bones and Raw Food. The idea behind this diet is to mimic what canines naturally eat. Dogs are mostly carnivorous, meaning they mostly eat meat, not as commercial foods would have us believe, which is whole grains. They may be omnivores to survive, eating all sorts of different foods, but wild canines eat meat and little else. Just because Frankie eats the food you put in front of him doesn’t mean he doesn’t prefer a tasty backyard squirrel.

If Frankie was on the BARF diet, he would eat things like beef, chicken, venison, lamb, turkey, rabbit, or mackerel, bones and all. You can also supplement meat from him with fruits, vegetables and vitamins.

But it’s sure?

Eating raw meat is pretty much unknown in our modern western culture. Dogs can handle it, though. Their digestive tracts are significantly smaller than ours and they can digest raw foods and bones very easily; in fact, much more readily than the grains and fillers used in commercial-grade foods. Because this is what dogs evolved to eat, they can also attack and kill many pesky bacteria. Eating raw meat is much safer for Frankie than it is for you. What can make you sick, he likes. As for the bones, they are not a concern as long as the meat is raw. When you cook meat and then give Frankie a bone, it could splinter and choke him. Raw, the bones are perfectly safe and actually very good for him. They are easily and quickly digested and give his teeth and bones the calcium he needs.

Worth the effort?

It’s true that for Frankie to follow the BARF diet, you’ll need to do more research and provide him with the right amount and variety of raw foods. But there are so many benefits. Without as many fillers, Frankie will poop a lot less. You’ll have less to collect! His skin will improve. Many dogs have itchy, irritated skin from grains in dog food. He will be satisfied and full and he will stop asking you for table scraps. If Frankie has a little gas from time to time, the BARF diet will take care of that. In general, his health will be greatly improved by eating the foods he should be eating. If he does some research, he will no doubt find testimonials from people who have always had their dogs on the BARF diet. They report fewer trips to the vet and their dogs living longer, healthier lives.

If you are thinking of taking the step with the BARF diet, congratulations! But, take the time and effort to get it right. With any meal plan, you want to make sure Frankie gets all the nutrients he needs. Find out more about implementing a natural diet for Frankie and discuss it with your vet if you are in any doubt. The first time you see him tear into a piece of raw meat, you’ll know that’s what he was born and raised to do.

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