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 standard dog foods however are made up of mostly carbohydrates (60-90%) with the main ingredient actually being mixed grain rather than meat. The vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and essential fatty acids are destroyed, altered or damaged by the heat in the manufacturing process.
The dog is a carnivore!
When a wolf eats it’s prey, every part of the animal is eaten with the exception of the larger bones, a large part of the skin and coat and a portion of the gastrointestinal contents. As well as prey, wolves also eat fruit, herbs, berries, grass, roots, insects, and the stomach contents of herbivores.
A Wolf gets all the vital nutrients like protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and fibre by eating a whole animal.
Biting through flesh and bone keeps the teeth of a carnivore strong and clean and prevents the breath from smelling bad.
The stomach of the dog is very large compared to herbivores – 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 that 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 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 dry food causes problems. The gastric juices are not sufficiently formed, because meat (the key stimulus) is missing. Therefore bacteria are not killed causing 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 enzymes are barley present in the highly heated prepared food.
The cooking of proteins is not suited to a dog’s stomach. Many minerals get lost after cooking and it makes it difficult to digest. The dog has a different amino acid requirements than 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 appears healthy enough but the immune system is weakened by the lack of enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants and essential fatty acids and the overworked pancreas does not function 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 caused by the feeding of processed food.
Out of concern for the health of their dogs more and more breeders and dog owners are questioning the kibble bag.
I would like to mention Juliette de Levy Bairacli because this extraordinary woman warned of the danger of pet food and vaccinations back in the 50s and 60s and always advocated a diet with fresh raw ingredients. The breeders who stuck to their “natural rearing” methods over decades reported consistently healthy dogs.
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 fewer problems with pregnancy and puppy care, and the puppies develop well. 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, amount of exercise, and of course, that the dog is supplied in sufficient quantities with all the nutrients. However there can be an easy transition over an eight week period to a diet of dry food if required.
Links to articles on the BARF diet:
If we are traveling with our dogs and are not able to have fresh meat for a short period, we feed them the Orijen dry food. In our eyes the best dry food on the market.