What Is The BARF Diet?

Why In The World Is The BARF Diet Popular?

Okay, let me start out by saying this is going to be a controversial post because there are a number of people who wholeheartedly believe in the BARF diet. No, the BARF diet is not something teenage girls are doing to get skinny – the BARF diet is actually a dog diet that stands for “bones and raw food” or “biologically appropriate raw food” depending on who you talk to. Unfortunately, BARF diet propaganda seems to be doing more harm to household pets than good.

The Theory Behind The BARF Diet

People who feed their pets according to the BARF diet believe that commercial dog food is evil and that their pet’s nutritional needs should be met by a diet similar to what wolves eat in the wild. These people feed their dogs raw meaty bones or whole carcasses such as chicken, quail, rabbit and fish. Some people who follow the BARF diet also feed their dog fruits and vegetables in addition to the other mentioned items.

What’s Wrong With The BARF Diet?

I am not a veterinarian, but I have spoken with veterinarians about the BARF diet and I also have information from a number of highly-respected animal nutritionists. First and foremost, it’s important to understand that many people may have short-term success with the BARF diet, but the dogs seem to suffer for it in the long run. How can the average person know exactly how much meat, fruits, vegetables and bones to feed their dogs in order to meet their dogs’ nutritional needs? A dog may get too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Over long periods of time, this could lead to serious health problems.

Another problem with the BARF diet is the fact that raw meat is not exactly safe to feed to any animal. Would you eat a steak without cooking it, even if you liked the taste? Probably not. Why? Because you’d likely get sick due to the bacteria and/or contaminants in the meat. Do you want your dog ingesting e-coli, salmonella or one of the other raw food bacteria that seem to thrive wherever raw meat can be found?

In my opinion, the BARF diet is based upon flawed logic. Just because the BARF diet mimics the diet of wild wolves, it doesn’t mean it is appropriate for our pets. Wolves eat what is available to them. How do you know a wolf wouldn’t take a cooked steak over a raw one or a bowl of quality kibble over a rabbit? Maybe our ancestors ate locusts, grubs and other stomach-turning delicacies to survive. That doesn’t mean we should be eating those things instead of the many healthy foods available on the market today. It’s a matter of common sense.

One Good Thing About The BARF Diet

There is one good thing about the sudden popularity of the BARF diet. It is bringing attention to the serious lack of quality dog foods on the market. Many dogs are slowly being killed by cheap, inappropriate dog foods filled with chemicals, useless fillers, and animal byproducts that should be thrown in the trash. Do you know what your dog’s food label means when it says chicken byproduct? You may think it means your dog is getting chicken meat from the food, but the label is actually referring to the parts of the chicken no one else wants, such as the head, legs, beak, etc.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t feed my dog ninety percent of the commercial dog foods available. In fact, I admire those who have the time to cook meals for their pets each and every day so they don’t have to feed them commercial dog food. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have time for that. Thankfully, there are good commercial dog foods available that can provide your dog with all of the nutrients he or she needs without having to resort to the drastic BARF diet measures. You just have to find them.

To sum it up, do your dog a favor. Don’t go to the extremes of the BARF diet, but don’t fall for the misleading marketing of commercial dog foods. Just because a company says their dog food is healthy, doesn’t mean it is. If you can feed your dog a home-cooked diet, ask your vet for pointers and/or a meal plan and go for it. If you have to feed your dog commercial dog food, don’t go to the grocery store for it. Instead, buy quality brands such as Canidea, Flint River, Innova or Wellness. Your dog will thank you for it.