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BARF is about feeding dogs properly. The aim of BARF is to maximise the health, longevity and reproductive capacity of dogs and by so doing, minimise the need for veterinary intervention. How do you feed a dog properly? You feed it the diet that it evolved to eat. It's evolutionary diet. A Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet. A BARF diet.

Such a diet, a biologically appropriate diet is simple in philosophy and construction. The very essence of common sense. It looks at the diet of a wild or feral animal and duplicates or mimics that type of feeding regime using available whole raw foodstuffs. These diets may be enhanced with various supplements. Once the principles are understood, anybody can do this. No great education is required.

In the case of the cat, which is an obligate carnivore and a hunter, the biologically appropriate diet is based largely upon animal derived foodstuffs. Basically, whatever nutrition can be derived from a whole fresh raw carcass - in its entirety - constitutes a biologically appropriate diet.

In the case of the dog which is an omnivore, a hunter and a scavenger, the diet can be based on a wider range of whole raw foods of both animal and plant origin, with the further proviso that the foods may be either fresh or auto-decaying via endogenous enzymes.

Both species rely on bones as a major part of their diet for a variety of reasons including teeth cleaning and the myriad benefits which flow from that together with the nutritional attributes of bones, their psychological benefits and so on.

The BARF movement appears to have begun in response to the dietary guidelines outlined in the book "Give Your Dog a Bone" written by yours truly - Ian Billinghurst.

The acronym BARF started out as meaning "Born Again Raw Feeders." Initially this was a sling off at dog owners who fed raw food to their dogs. When the originator of that term tried a raw food diet on her own dogs, she was so impressed that she began an Internet list advocating the use of raw foods for dogs. Along the way she changed the meaning of the term BARF to the "Bones And Raw Food diet." BARF could also stand for the Billinghurst Australian Real Food diet. In fact anything you like that works!

The philosophy behind using BARF, or the hypothesis on which it is based is that the diet a dog evolved to eat - over many millions of years of evolution - is the best way to feed it. This is the hypothesis accepted by most modern zoos or any zoologist concerned with preserving a species of endangered animal. It is not the theory endorsed by pet food companies or the people they train - and that includes unfortunately - most vets.

If you want to feed your dog[s] BARF, it means not feeding your dog[s] cooked and or processed food. That is, not feeding your dog[s] a diet based on cooked grains, no matter how persuasive the advertising. Artificial grain based dog foods cause innumerable health problems. They are not what your dog was programmed to eat during its long process of evolution.

A biologically appropriate diet for a dog is one that consists of raw whole foods similar to those eaten by the dogs' wild ancestors. . The food fed must contain the same balance and type of ingredients as consumed by those wild ancestors. This food will include such things as muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meat and vegetable materials and any other "foods" that will mimic what those wild ancestors ate.

Please note that modern dogs of any breed are not only capable of eating the food of their wild ancestors, but actually require it for maximum health. This is because their basic physiology has changed very little with domestication despite obvious and dramatic changes in their current physical appearance and mindset.

The BARF diet, being an attempt to mimic the evolutionary diet of dogs, must, from a practical point of view, use food that is available from the local supermarket or whatever local or distant source is economically viable. BARF feeders do not have to go hunting or send their dogs out to hunt. That is why I said BARF must mimic, not duplicate the evolutionary diet of dogs. This is an important distinction. The BARF feeder will MIMIC as closely as possible rather than duplicate the NATURAL diet of the dog. We are not trying to return our dogs to nature. It is impossible to feed any domestic animal its natural diet, let alone allow it to live under natural conditions. The natural diet and natural conditions under which the ancestors or wild cousins of our dogs live include grave dangers such as lack of shelter, starvation, attack by potential food, attack by other predators and the non use of medical intervention including surgery, vaccination, antibiotics and preventative measures against external and internal parasites etc. In other words, natural diets and natural conditions can be deadly! They are not what we want for our pets. What we want for our dogs is a diet and an environment that maximises health. That means a Biologically Appropriate Diet rather than a natural diet. This is my favourite use of the term BARF - Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

One aspect of the BARF programme of diet and health for dogs that is controversial, is the use of whole raw [meaty] bones as food for our dogs. I have fed my own dogs with these for decades, as have thousands of my clients and readers of my books. For most dogs, whole raw meaty bones do not constitute a danger. They simply and easily promote positive good health being a biologically appropriate food for our dogs. However, where there is a perceived danger, do not stop feeding bones. In these cases, simply use bones that have been finely ground.

This brings us to a very practical point. Dog owners who want to feed BARF must find a source of raw meaty bones, offal and vegetables plus whatever supplements are appropriate to balance the diet or treat particular disease problems. The good news is that there are commercial foods becoming available that are designed as BARF diets. Watch out for these. They will make this whole process much easier. However, even if such foods become available, it is essential that dog owners fully understand what BARF diets are all about. That means learning about BARF!

If you want to learn about and start feeding your dog[s] a Biologically appropriate raw food diet - and there is little doubt that using the manufacturers recommended fuels, spare parts and lubricants is always the best insurance against breakdowns and system failure - then I strongly suggest you get hold of - and read - my two books … Give Your Dog a Bone and Grow Your Pups With Bones. In the case of cats, until my cat book becomes available, follow the ideas in Give Your Dog a Bone only - leave out most but not all the vegetables.

These contain the information you need to set your dogs on the path of true health. The other source of information and encouragement will be one of the many raw feeding lists now in existence on the Internet.

Dr Ian Billinghurst

Last Update: 05/03/07 21:51 Views: 2532

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