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Is the BARF Diet Right for Your Dog or Cat? Risks, Benefits & Expert Advice (UK)

The BARF diet is a different diet with no added preservatives, grains or wheat, foods that the dog does not need, and does not tolerate!

The Barf diet (UK), which stands for ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food‘ or ‘Bones And Raw Food‘, is popular among dog and cat owners.

This article examines what it is and whether it might be the most suitable diet for your pet.

What is the Barf Diet?

The Barf Diet is the brainchild of an Australian veterinarian named Ian Billinghurst in the 1990s when feeding dogs and cats exclusively with commercial food was becoming the norm.

Dr Billinghurst thought it was healthier and ethologically correct to offer food in the bowl in the proper proportions, similar to what their ancestors would have eaten in the wild, such as raw meat and organs.

What does the Barf Diet include?

One of the benefits attributed to the BARF diet is that it improves dental health: the act of chewing raw bones can help prevent the formation of plaque and tartar on animals' teeth.

The Barf Diet for dogs and cats includes the following:

  • Pulpy Bones (PB): These bones, such as the chicken neck, are covered in meat and can be fed whole or ground, depending on the dog’s ability to chew them. The vet doctor will explain how to introduce POs into your pet’s diet and check that they are well-chewed.
  • Meat Without Bone (MWB): This category includes meat and muscle. Fish is also part of the HSC and an excellent protein source, to be included at least once every 740 days.
  • Organs: liver, spleen, heart, kidney and lung are used to supplement vitamins and trace elements. The quantity of organs must be carefully dosed to avoid deficiencies or excesses. The liver is undoubtedly the most important organ for vitamins, especially vitamins A and D, and iron.

For example, if you choose whole pulpy bones, their percentage will be higher than ground ones. An ideal Barf diet usually consists of:

However, these percentages can be adapted to your pet’s needs.

The Transition to Barf

Unlike other graded dietary changes, transitioning from a commercial diet to a Barf diet is usually rapid.

  • Vegetables: Vegetables can vary according to seasonality and the dog’s preferences. They have little nutritional role in our domestic carnivores but are essential for intestinal transit and to promote the well-being of the intestinal microbiota.
  • Green tripe: This component consists of ruminant pre-mammals, neither washed nor bleached. Green because the pre-milage of pasture-fed and, therefore, grass-fed animals (as opposed to silage-fed animals) is used.
  • Oils and Fats: Oils and fats are essential; they have an energetic, structural and functional role. There must be the right proportion of saturated and unsaturated fats.

The servings of the Barf Diet

The daily doses in the Barf diet vary depending on the animal’s weight, with a general range between 2% and 4% of body weight.

However, the dosage depends on multiple factors, including sex, age, breed, physical activity and present pathologies. In some cases, such as for growing puppies, the percentage can be as high as 10%. It is important to rely on a veterinary nutrition expert to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

How much meat without Bone and how much pulpy Bone?

The BARF diet reduces the risk of obesity and is more balanced and nutrient-rich than commercial pet diets, which can help maintain a healthy weight.

The amount of boneless meat and flesh-bearing bones to be fed depends on the animal and the type of bones chosen. It is recommended to complete the last meal with commercial food in the evening and to start the next day with boneless meat and flesh-bearing bones. The organs and other components will then be introduced gradually.

Functional supplements

As the Barf diet is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids found in meat, a specific supplement of Omega 3, especially EPA and DHA, should be taken. Another helpful supplement can be psyllium cuticles in case of hard stools or constipation problems.

Risks and contraindications

Knowing the potential risks associated with the Barf diet for both the owner and the dog or cat is essential. The main human risk relates to possible bacteriological contamination, particularly from Listeria and Salmonella. This is why following hygienic measures when handling raw meat is very important. It is generally crucial that utensils and containers used for dogs and cats remain for this purpose only.

Compared to the dog, the cat has fewer bone problems: if it appreciates them, it will chew better.

As far as the dog is concerned, the risks are generally limited, with the main focus being on bones. However, the dog can learn to chew and must be instructed accordingly. If your dog cannot do this, ground pulpy bones can be used as an alternative. Cats are less likely to have bone problems: if they like them, they will chew with better ability. Remember that the Barf diet may not be suitable if there are more fragile members of the family, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women or people who are immuno-depressed.

In conclusion, the Barf diet is a natural choice for your dog or cat. Still, it is essential to carefully consider your pet’s specific factors and consult a veterinary nutrition professional to ensure this diet’s safe and healthy adoption.

Q&As:

What is the Barf Diet and who developed it?

The Barf Diet, standing for ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’ or ‘Bones And Raw Food’, was developed by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst in the 1990s.

What does the Barf Diet include for dogs and cats?

The Barf Diet includes pulpy bones, meat without bones, organs, vegetables, and fats/oils.

How is the transition to the Barf Diet typically carried out?

Transitioning to the Barf Diet is usually rapid, with various components introduced gradually into the pet’s diet.

What are the recommended proportions of different food components in the Barf Diet?

An ideal Barf diet typically consists of 30-45% pulpy bones, 25-30% boneless meat, 20% organs, 10% vegetables, and fat according to the pet’s physical activity.

What factors determine the daily servings in the Barf Diet?

The daily servings in the Barf Diet vary based on the animal’s weight, with a general range between 2% and 4% of body weight, though it can be as high as 10% for growing puppies.

What functional supplements might be necessary for pets on the Barf Diet?

Functional supplements like Omega 3 fatty acids and psyllium cuticles may be recommended to address specific health issues like constipation.

What are the risks and contraindications associated with the Barf Diet?

Risks include bacterial contamination for owners and pets, particularly Listeria and Salmonella. Potential choking hazards from bones are also noted. It may not be suitable for households with vulnerable members such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals.

Takeaways:

  • The Barf Diet aims to mimic the natural diet of dogs and cats, focusing on raw and biologically appropriate foods.
  • It includes pulpy bones, boneless meat, organs, vegetables, and fats/oils.
  • Transitioning to this diet is typically rapid, with careful consideration given to the proportions of various food components.
  • Daily servings vary based on the animal’s weight and other factors, with adjustments necessary for growing puppies and other specific needs.
  • Functional supplements may be recommended to address nutritional gaps or health issues.
  • Risks include bacterial contamination and potential choking hazards from bones, making hygiene and supervision crucial.
  • Consultation with a veterinary nutrition expert is advised before implementing the Barf Diet, especially for households with vulnerable members.

Comparison Table:

AspectBarf DietCommercial Diet
Food CompositionIncludes pulpy bones, boneless meat, organs, vegetables, and fats/oils.Typically comprises processed kibble or canned food, often containing grains, fillers, and additives.
Transition ProcessTransition is usually rapid, with components introduced gradually.Formulated to meet AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards, aiming to provide complete and balanced nutrition. It may lack some nutrients found in raw foods.
Daily ServingsFeeding guidelines are often provided on packaging, but amounts may need to be adjusted based on pet needs.Bacterial contamination (Listeria, Salmonella) and bone choking hazards are potential risks.
Nutritional BalanceIt varies based on the animal’s weight, typically ranging between 2% and 4% of body weight. Adjustments may be necessary for age, breed, and activity level.There is minimal risk of bacterial contamination, but there is potential for issues like obesity and dental problems due to processed ingredients.
Health RisksGenerally, they are more affordable than raw diets, but costs can vary based on brand and quality.Potential risks include bacterial contamination (Listeria, Salmonella) and bone choking hazards.
CostCosts may vary depending on the quality and sourcing of ingredients, potentially higher due to fresh and raw components.Bacterial contamination (Listeria, Salmonella) and bone choking hazards are potential risks.
Consultation RequiredAdvised to consult with a veterinary nutrition expert before implementing, especially for households with vulnerable members.Less need for consultation unless specific health issues arise.
This comparison table outlines key differences between the Barf Diet and a commercial diet, highlighting aspects such as food composition, transition process, daily servings, nutritional balance, health risks, cost, and the need for professional consultation. It can be edited to include additional details or tailored to specific needs.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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