The BARF Diet
BARF is an acronym for either Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. Either way you say it, BARF has its fervent advocates - and its fair share of controversy too.
BARF philosophy is based on the argument that since dogs and cats are evolved from wild animals such as wolves and lions, we should feed our pets a similar diet. A suitable BARF for cats and dogs is as follows:
Cats - are carnivorous hunters, and so nutrition should be taken from whole fresh raw carcasses, including bones.
Dogs - are omnivores, flesh hunters and scavengers, so their diets should be based on whole raw animals, plants and bones for teeth cleaning and nutritional benefits.
The BARF movement was started nearly 20 years ago by veterinary surgeon Dr. Ian Billinghurst, who believes that commercial pet foods are life-threatening for pets. Billinghurst is the author of 'Give Your Dog a Bone'.
The BARF Controversy
BARF supporters noted these health improvements within the first couple of weeks:
- Cleaner teeth/gums
- Fresher breath
- Shinier coat
- Brighter eyes
- Increased muscle tone
- Reduced allergies
- Increased energy
Challengers of BARF uphold that this diet has its disadvantages:
- Inconvenient/time consuming
- Traveling with BARF or finding a kennel that will provide it
Many veterinarians discourage BARF diets because they claim to have seen an increase in pancreas, stomach and intestinal injuries; kidney, heart and brain illnesses and bacterial parasites in animals on long-term BARF diets; and that many pets show no sign of sickness until a few days before death.