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The BARF Diet – Is This the Right Way to Go for your Pet’s Health?

Posted Nov 28 2009 10:00pm

Your pet is part of the family and should be treated as such, especially when it comes to a healthy diet. Regular kibble and moist pet food found in stores may potentially consist of chemicals and preservatives that eventually could lead to a variety of health problems. Many pet owners looking for a healthier way of life for their animal have adopted the BARF diet.

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Defining the BARF Diet

BARF stands for “Bones and Raw Food” or depending on whom you ask, “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.” Cut up vegetables, raw meat and uncooked bones make up the BARF diet. The basis behind it is to imitate the approximate diet of what animals in the wild eat. Some veterinarians and pet owners are not quite sure about this diet and whether it is safe or not to switch to a diet of raw foods. Before placing that raw poultry or pork in front of your pet, let’s look at the BARF diet more closely.

Potential Problems with Commercial Pet Food Options

Pet owners who have adopted the BARF diet for their pets believe strongly in it and think that their pets are healthier because of it. Holistic veterinarians do believe this special pet diet has its advantages over pet food purchased in a retail outlet. Commercial pet food has preservatives and other additives that are not found naturally in the diets of animals in the wild and can be hazardous to your pet’s health.

Purchased pet food also contains ingredients like rice and corn which are not a staple in the diet of wild counterparts of your pets such as cats and dogs. Saliva is an essential component of digestion and should start with a bite of food. Unfortunately, sometimes the pet food is small enough that your pet swallows it whole, a big detractor in extracting nutrients and flavor from the food. In addition, the food for pets purchased commercially is also cooked to kill possible bacteria and other contaminants which unfortunately also strip the food of some necessary nutrients.

Is Raw Food the Best Choice?

While there are many proponents of the BARF diet, there are still as many detractors too. Is raw truly the way to go? Some experts say that domesticated animals are not going to be like their wild counterparts and are quite accustomed to cooked pet food.

Raw diets do pose some risks because bacteria and parasites are a possibility, particularly with raw meats. Bones can chip teeth or even splinter, causing internal bleeding or even a choking hazard. You, yourself could contract food poisoning or some other illness from handling raw food for your pet’s BARF diet. BARF diet proponents believe that the benefits far outweigh the possible hazards.

Being uncertain about whether the BARF diet is something you could keep up with, especially ensuring that you and your pet do not contract a food-borne disease, consider purchasing ready-made raw meals for your pet. These prepared meals will save you time as well as help you decide whether the BARF diet will even be tolerated by your pet’s digestive system.

If you are not quite ready to step into the raw realm, you could start by cooking meat and vegetables for your pet and wean them off commercial pet food. As time goes by, you could slowly integrate more raw foods into your pet’s diet so you can see how your pet reacts. Abrupt changes to your pet’s diet will definitely make them sick. The slow approach will help you decide whether the BARF diet is right for your pet.

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