What are the pros/cons of the BARF diet?
BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. This diet is all about feeding dogs, what the raw food advocates say, is properly and returning them to their evolutionary diet.
A biologically appropriate diet for a dog is one consisting of raw whole foods similar to those eaten by the dogs’ wild ancestors. The food must contain such things as muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meats, vegetables and fruits combined in precisely the correct balance.
Whether or not raw meat is safe is debatable, although most pet owners and holistic veterinarians report no obvious health problems in pets fed raw meat. Conversely, many owners and doctors report healthier looking coats and skin, less itching, less arthritis, and general overall health improvement once pets are slowly switched from processed food and fed raw homemade diets. Advocates report overall increase in general well-being including:
• Improved dental hygiene: Tarter elimination, strong teeth, improved breath.
• Allergy alleviation
• Improved GI health: Chronic Diarrhea often disappears and stool volume and odor is significantly reduced.
• Weight maintenance
• Strong immune system
• Increase energy and vitality
• Arthritis improvement
HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS
The major concern is with dietary balance, parasites and bacteria.
Owners who feed raw meat must do all they can to ensure that this meat is “safe” and free from pesticide, chemical, and hormonal residues, as well as parasites. Proper handling of the meat is needed to ensure that it stays “safe” at home (most food poisoning results from improper handling at home rather than a problem with the actual source of the meat itself.)
Immunity is as much a concern as it is an advantage. Proponents of the BARF diet report an increased immune system because nutrients aren’t destroyed in the cooking process and claim that severely ill dogs, such as those with cancer, would benefit. However, many express concern that these dogs have an already suppressed immune system, which would make them particularly susceptible to bacterial infections.
Be sure to discuss this thoroughly with your veterinarian.