Fresh fruits and vegetables, uncooked meat, bones, and sometimes herbs for dogs are just the right words a dog owner wants to hear, saves a lot of time in terms of preparation.
Based on genetics, dogs have never had a problem with raw diets dating back to ancestral wild dogs. Raw diets make dogs thrive the most.
What is a BARF diet, and how does it keep dogs healthy?
Is the BARF diet good for dogs?
BARF explained is Bones and Raw Food or simply Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It consists of a raw diet of raw meat, bones, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, minerals, and dairy.
Today, more pet food supplies have switched to producing five-star pre-packed raw materials making work easier for dog owners to observe a BARF diet.
A raw diet is beneficial because it is natural and provides more nutritious consumption free from artificial preservatives, additives, and flavours.
Below are some of the benefits of feeding a dog a BARF diet:
- Fresh breath, less inflamed gums, and cleaner teeth
- Improves digestion and prevents digestive problems
- Increase stamina and energy levels
- Skin and coat improvement (healthier and shinier)
- Better weight control and stabilisation
- Prevents and eliminates allergies
- Refines pancreatic, bowel, and liver health
- Strengthens immunity system
- Eliminates behaviours such as restlessness, stealing food, excessive(scratching, drinking, digging, and itching), gassiness, and hyperactivity
There are different factors to be considered in how much BARF a dog owner can feed their dog. Unlike puppies who need growth support, adult dogs' diet is mainly based on maintenance.
Food portion for dogs merely depends on their weight, activity levels, and metabolism. Getting the right proportions helps the dog get the right blend of nutrients.
Customarily, a dog's raw diet should contain the following:
- 70% natural muscle meat
- 10% edible natural bone
- 10% fruits and vegetables
- 5% liver
- 5% other secreting organs
When eating their weight in pounds per day, adult dogs at an ideal weight, senior less active underweight adult dogs, and active underweight adult dogs should eat 2-3%, 1.5%, and 3%, respectively.
For puppies, 2-3months,4-5months, 6-8months and 9-12months should eat 8%-10%, 6%-8%, 4%-6% and 3%-4% respectively.
Recommendations for feeding a puppy is 2-4 times a day while an adult dog is 1-2 times unless a veterinarian advises otherwise.
When should I start the barf diet?
It is always better late than never when starting a dog on a raw diet.
However, it is ideal that at about 8-12 weeks, because of the rapid growth, a proper diet that provides necessary nutrients should be given to puppies.
A carefully prepared raw diet is a healthy choice for dogs and is better than commercially mass-produced foods.
For proteins, here are some essentials; fresh raw, high-quality muscle meat, organ meats (such as liver and kidney), dairy (yoghurt), ground or whole raw meat bone, fish, and raw eggs.
For greens; vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach, squash, carrots, pumpkins, and celery), fruits (such as blueberries and apples), and fresh herbs such as oregano and parsley.
A portion of unbalanced raw diet food for your dog can do more harm than good. Deficiencies and future health problems are inevitable when all the micronutrients dogs need are not well balanced.
All dog energy sources come from three sources, fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. For starters, it is essential to balance fats and proteins.
Getting the calcium and minerals right is suitable for starting a raw diet, as does adding organ meats and vegetables.
How do I transition my dog to the barf diet?
Compared to dry food, BARF is considered more natural, species friendly, and healthy, unlike the latter, which is dried and ground raw materials pressed into biscuit form.
Changing to a raw diet should be chronological. One may also fast their dog for half a day to a whole day.
Feeding the dog every meat source one at a time for at least a week or more should be considered. This could help identify any allergies a dog might have.
Below are other safe ways to consider when transitioning your dog to a BARF diet:
- Maintain the dog's usual feeding schedule: When the feeding schedule is once, twice, or thrice a day, changing to a raw diet should not change the regular eating times.
- Limit the dog's fat intake: Too much fat can cause an imbalance of the gut effectiveness or chronic inflammation, leading to chronic disease.
- Prepare fruits and vegetables correctly: To ensure your dog can absorb nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables, opt to ferment, grind, blitz, or steam them.
- Regulate starch intake: Starch, especially carbohydrates, should not dominate the dog's diet. Starchy vegetables and grains such as potatoes or rice once in a while should be perfect.
- Weigh the dog's food portions: Consider the theory of a dog eating a particular percentage of their total body weight as recommended above.
- Fresh water intake: Dogs should be able to access plenty of fresh water, although a raw diet contains a lot of moisture leading to a decrease in the dog's water intake.
- Probiotics: For older dogs who are used to commercial foods, adding enzymes and probiotics to their food can help them adjust to changes in diet
- Proper storage: Unless you want to defrost to feed your dog, keep the meat tightly sealed and in the freezer to avoid cases of bacterial contamination.
- Dog's stool: If your dog's stool changes from solid poop to soft, adjust the ingredients to your new diet. Preferable, Safe Guard’s ingredients.
Energy needs vary from dog to dog. Determining the number of calories a dog consumes is dependent on its biological functions and daily activities.
Calculating a dog's daily energy requirement estimates how many calories it consumes per day.
Consequently, making one's raw food is ideal as it controls what a dog is fed. This helps dogs with health concerns and food sensitivities.
Occasional fruits or vegetables in a dog's BARF diet for health and balance won't hurt, for they have no real need.
In addition, a dog owner can add probiotics to a raw diet because they work to restore the balance of intestinal bacteria and fight against harmful germs.
Do vets recommend a raw diet?
Some veterinarians do differ in the recommendation of BARF diets for dogs. They argue that:
- Raw diets can have parasites that can cause illnesses in dogs.
- Stools from dogs on raw diets may harm livestock if they contain parasites.
- Feeding bare bones can cause gastric, gut, and intestinal foreign bodies.
- Failing to give your dog a balanced diet can cause deficiencies in their health.
- Dogs can choke on whole bones, break a tooth or puncture their intestines.
It is important to note that transitioning to raw diets may make the dog's stool softer than usual, less frequent, and smaller. This is because raw meat and vegetables contain moisture that is efficiently utilized.
For some dogs, raw diets can lead to constipation. When the dog strains lightly when defecating, it doesn't pose threats as a natural diet helps dogs express their anal gland reducing certain infections.
Nevertheless, if the dog strains for long and produces just a few faeces, it can be severe, and one should consult a vet as soon as possible.
Hard stools are a result of excess bones. One should opt to add more organ meat to their dog's diet to prevent risks of constipation or other underlying problems.
Some dogs may go through a system of detoxification where their body naturally clears away toxins accumulated from recent diets.
They may experience loose stools and runny eyes, and maybe some may lose their coats partly. This should not be a cause for worry because they are positive signs of the raw diet at work.
The detox period should last a few days, but it is time to contact a vet when they persist.
Most dogs flourish on a BARF diet, while some don't simply because they have different tastes, needs, and requirements.
A dog's weight, size, age, and level of daily activities are essential even to a vet when recommending or discouraging a raw diet for dogs.
For your dog's healthy gut and boost to your dog's ease into a BARF diet, the recommendation is to use probiotics such as Safe Guard ingredients.
Primarily, it is best to talk to your vet to find out if opting for a raw diet is best for your dog, as they would be able to weigh specific needs and health issues.