Barf diet: natural food for dogs - Those who share their lives with a dog often ask themselves the problem: it is better to feed them with industrial food as cans and treats, or give them fresh unpackaged food? In recent years it has been heard more and more often about Barf, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. According to veterinarians and nutritionists who advocate this type of pet food, the Barf indicates a correct and healthy diet that includes biologically appropriate raw food.
The method follows the basic principle of nature, according to which every living being has its own specific digestive system. The dog, as such, is born a carnivore and consequently needs a diet made up of raw animal foods. But is it really so? Is it good for all animals or are there any contraindications? To answer questions about this particular diet regimen is David Bettio, veterinary surgeon, president of the Italian Society of Veterinary Homeopathy.
Doctor Bettio, what is Barf?
It is a model nutritional based on the use of fresh meat, pulpy bones, offal and vegetables, all strictly raw.
What is the advantage over the commercial diet based on packaged foods?
Over the years with this nutritional model I have found enormous clinical advantages on dogs with gastrointestinal and dermatological diseases, even epileptic dogs have managed with this type of diet to have incredible improvements, I have found truly striking clinical cases. Then there are the benefits reported by all owners who follow the Barf who see their dogs extremely vigorous, it is basically a preventative diet. This is because it is respectful of the nature of the dog, which is mainly a carnivore.
But don't the bones given to dogs, which many vets advise against, create problems?
The bones must be special, as I said before: first of all raw, because those of the grilled chop or boiled meat should not be given absolutely. To give a practical example, if you cut a raw chicken bone you have to serrate it, in cooked chicken if you press it with a knife, the bones break, they are like vitrified, therefore dangerous. Raw meaty bones are of a certain type, namely chicken and turkey necks, chicken wings, chicken or rabbit carcasses, white beef, rabbit or lamb heads. The classic cow knee, on the other hand, is a bone classified as recreational, it has another purpose, because it is not given every day and must be given to dogs under observation because they "scratch" it and if it takes too long then intestinal blockages can occur. .
Are there any risks involved in feeding raw meat? Let's think for example of Salmonella ...
There are health risks, as well as for kibble. However, it is enough to rely on a trusted butcher who knows how to be attentive to the handling and preservation of meat, especially the cold chain. It must be said that dogs in particular are super-equipped in terms of antibodies, if you think about where they put their nose and tongue! They also have a stomach pH ten times more acid than that of humans which destroys a bit of everything and are equipped from the point of view of the intestinal microbiome.
How do you go from an industrial-type power supply to Barf?
There are several strategies, it depends a lot on the individual and the owner. You can switch to this diet from one day to the next and nothing happens. Then maybe there are more delicate dogs and it is necessary to make more progressive introductions, perhaps starting to cook the food and see the effect it has, then just blanching it, then moving on to raw. We need to do some tests and accompany him in the change. There are animals that do it from day to day without problems, others don't. In this sense, the support of the veterinarian is essential because he can give indications but it is the owner who in the end knows his pet well.
But is the intervention of the veterinarian essential or can it be done on your own?
The assistance of the veterinarian or nutritionist is not necessarily necessary. However, if you want to tackle the Barf diet for dogs it is essential to study and read a lot to compare and understand. If there are no particular difficulties you can be self-taught, there are books that go into specifics and give all the explanations, otherwise you can contact your veterinarian to be more relaxed.
What are the immediate benefits of switching to Barf?
What I constantly see is the clarity of the hair, extreme vigor and vitality, compact and small stools, decreased thirst and an increase in muscle mass at the expense of fat.
But in the case of overt diseases of the dog, such as kidney failure, diabetes, overweight, can Barf be a good or a bad thing?
In these specific cases, a veterinarian should be consulted, because an individual evaluation of the patient must be made with a specific diet and measured for the needs of that moment and that pathology. But the Barf model is also very good for patients with pathologies, for example in cases of diabetes in cats the Barf is essential, while in kidney pathologies the nutrients must be carefully calibrated because there are foods that must be limited such as those rich in phosphates and phosphorus. and others that can be used safely.
Why are many veterinarians absolutely pro industrial nutrition and advise against the Barf?
I think it is mainly for a cultural reason. We come out of an educational, scientific and academic model, where we have been taught to prescribe kibble and not to deal directly with dog nutrition and we have fallen a bit into this complicity without thinking that it is instead a primary thing that we must take care of. And then there are preconceptions because you live in habit and don't want to change and you preclude yourself from different models of knowledge.
Does it cost more or less to feed your dog with the Barf?
It depends. Usually with a dog of twenty kilos, compared to a top premium food the cost is the same, if it exceeds twenty-five kilos it becomes a little more expensive, but it always depends where you go to shop, if you go to the trusted butcher it costs certainly less. And then we must consider that the costs of outsourcing are totally reduced, that is, the whole process that produces food consumes a lot of energy and water, not to mention the packaging. We can therefore say that Barf is also a way to lend a hand to the environment, as well as contributing to the health of your pet.
Curated by Sabrina Mechella
If you are interested in the topic, read also
- Automatic BARF calculator
- Dropshipping for animals