Humans love unusual ways of eating. People will go through a few different diets a year for health reason, to keep up with trends, or just to try something new. While this might be something fun and interesting for us bipeds, it doesn’t always work for our animal friends.
A recent trend in human food has been the increase of raw foods, foods that aren’t heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The concept is that the enzymes in food are destroyed above that heat and our bodies have to work harder in order to digest our meals. With that in mind, people started looking at what we feed to pets and go to thinking that there could be a way to make dog food a little closer to nature.
There is an ongoing debate about whether a raw food diet is good for dogs; though you could also say the same thing about human diets. When it comes to animals, many vets and pet owners have started advocating for a more holistic approach, which often means preparing a meal for your pet instead of just buying the commercially produced dog food.
The unfortunately named BARF (Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) method of feeding looks to give dogs a diet closer to what they would get in the wild. People who follow this method promise it does wonders. The idea of giving a dog a bone to eat might make some pet owners nervous but those who practice BARF swear that’s not a problem though it still appears on lists of risks that you may possibly encounter.
Raw food for dogs can also provide problems if the owner isn’t entirely sure what biologically appropriate foods are. Common mistakes include not understanding the basic nutrition your dog needs (like forgetting how much calcium they need) or basing the whole diet entirely on meats. Dogs, like humans, need a variety of food to be healthy while staying away from starches. Unlike humans, organ meat is great for dogs whether or not they’re currently following BARF guidelines. Organ meat, which can cause a ton of problems for people when over consumed, is like a multivitamin to our four legged friends. It does more to make their coat look great than the designer dog collar you got them. Don’t worry, they appreciate both!
But is this diet good for dogs? Will it hurt them, help them, or ultimately be no different than getting store bought kibble? Among scientists and vets, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus, to say nothing of pet owners. Some pet owners claim that going the BARF route changed their dog’s life entirely and turned their ailing health completely around. Others tell of dogs puking everything up and being unable to eat. Like any lifestyle change, for you or your dog, it’s important to do it gradually and introduce the raw food into your dog’s diet slowly. Give the animal time to adjust and keep an eye on her mood, energy, and appetite. If they like it and it works, great! If it makes them sick then best to stick to the kibble until you can have a talk with the vet.
Remember to check with your vet before trying a new diet if you have a dog with health problems or that has had health problems in the past. No two dogs are the same so just because it works for someone else’s animal doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for yours. Do your research and introduce the new foods slowly. You want your pooch to be around for a while so find what works for them and you to keep Fido healthy and happy.