We feed our dogs using the BARF diet as we believe this to be the healthiest way – especially for working dogs.
To provide the dog with a good diet is the most important pillar of good health. Unfortunately, most dog owners put the responsibility of feeding their dogs in the hands of corporate animal-feed manufacturers. It’s easy and convenient to buy a bag of food and believe the manufacturer’s nutritional instructions. Sadly the results of using cereal-based food is becoming clearer by the huge increase in diseases in our dog population. Cancer, allergies, pancreatitis, skin problems, kidney disease, liver disease, immune deficiency and growth disorders are becoming increasingly common and can not be simply explained by “over breeding”.
Many vets, breeders and dog owners are now of the opinion that prepared food is a major cause of ill health and seek alternatives to finished food products. One of these alternatives, which now has supporters all over the world, is called the BARF diet.
BARF – what is it?
The acronym BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) was first used by the American Debbie Tripp to refer to the people who feed their dogs with raw, fresh food. This idea has different meanings for different people but for me it simply means feeding a raw diet and is not intended to refer to a particular diet plan. The BARF plan tries to recreate the diet of wild carnivores such as wolves.
Dry food – what is it?
Most dog owners have no idea of the real contents of dry food. More and more people are becoming aware of the chemicals, preservatives and flavor enhancers so manufacturers develop numerous brands that supposedly do without these pollutants. If you read the basic ingredients of dry food you will find terms such as “animal by-products”, “poultry meal”, “dry-snip”, “fish meal” or “bone meal”.
All dog foods are made, most part (60-90 percent) of carbohydrates. It is impossible to indicate meat meal as the first ingredient, the main ingredient is mixed grain. However, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and essential fatty acids are destroyed, altered or damaged by the heat in the manufacturing process. To these substances, the food is not examined.
The dog is a carnivore!
Like its ancestor, the wolf, the dog belongs to the order of carnivores. Except prey the wolf also eats fruit, herbs, berries, grasses, roots, insects, and also the inside of herbivores. Mostly however, the wolf eats whole animals. Everything of an animal will be eaten except the larger bones, a large part of the skin and coat and a portion of the gastrointestinal contents.
A Wolf gets all the vital nutrients like protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and fibre by eating a whole animal.
By biting through flesh and bone the teeth of a carnivore will be strong and clean. Also the breath will not have a bad smell.
The stomach of the dog is compared to herbivores very large: eight times as big as a horse’s stomach, in relation to body weight. The stomach of the dog contains proportionately ten times more hydrochloric acid than the one of humans.
The intestine of the dog is very short compared to the gut of the herbivore. The complete digestion of meat and bone in the dog lasts up to 24 hours; herbivores need for digestion four to five days.
All these facts clearly indicate that the dog is a carnivore and a carbohydrate-based diet is fundamentally wrong for this species.
The high cereal content of finished food’s causes problems in the dog. The gastric juices are not sufficiently formed, because the key stimulus, meat, is missing. Therefore bacteria are not killed, it comes to bad fermentation, diarrhea, stomach turns and parasite infestation. The pancreas is unable to cope with the production of enzymes for the digestion of grains, because in the highly heated prepared food enzymes are barley present.
The cooking of proteins is not suited for a dog’s stomach. Many minerals get lost after cooking and it makes it difficult to digest. Even if you feed the cooking water, these minerals are largely no longer of value to the dog. The dog has a different amino acid requirements than the herbivores, and these amino acids are almost all contained in raw meat. Without these amino acids, the dog can not build a healthy immune system.
On a dry food diet the dog, at best, appeares healthy but often enough it comes to diseases. The immune system is weakened by the lack of enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants and essential fatty acids and the overtaxed pancreas does not work properly. Due to the lack of dental hygiene, tartar and chronic inflammation arise in the mouth, which weaken the immune system. Some new independent studies have shown that the tartar and the subsequent gingivitis (gum inflammation) cause immune deficiency in the dog. There are now several prescription diets to treat the diseases that are in the first place caused by the feeding of finished food.
Out of concern for the health of their dogs more and more breeders and dog owners are questioning the kibble bags.
I would like to mention briefly Juliette de Levy Bairacli, because this extraordinary woman had warned back in the 50s and 60s of the danger of pet food and vaccinations and always advocated the diet with fresh raw ingredients. The breeders who remained stable over decades their “natural rearing” methods reported consistently healthy dogs in times which you van hear about sick dogs more and more.
Meanwhile, many people feed their dogs according to the principles of BARF and report amazing improvement in they’re health. Skin problems disappear, the dogs have more energy, the bitches have less problems with pregnancy and puppy care, and the puppies grow slower and healthier on. Many health problems disappear or improve after switching to BARF.
There are several things to consider on a natural diet, such as the animal’s age, state of health and, of course, that the dog is supplied in sufficient quantities with all the nutrients. But all in all this type of feeding is much easier than people think it is!