BARF is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. Biologically appropriate food is food that a particular animal was designed to eat. In the case of cats and dogs this happens to be raw meat and bones, organ meat and some vegetables and fruit. Cats and dogs have a short, highly acidic digestive tract designed specifically to digest raw meat, bones, organ meat and vegetables, making this their biologically appropriate diet. Ruminants such as cattle and sheep have a stomach with four compartments designed to digest grasses, making this their biologically appropriate diet.
Why feed BARF?
When cats and dogs are fed grains such as found in most commercial kibble and canned diets, they have a difficult time processing the food and absorbing the nutrients properly because this diet is not biologically appropriate for them. Cats and dogs are carnivores and their digestive systems were not designed to eat grains. They also depend on their food being raw, cooking destroys many of the nutrients that they need as well as the enzymes that they use to digest their food. This puts undue stress on the body which can result in immune deficiencies, poor coats, inflammation, allergic reactions and more. Kidney, liver, thyroid and joint issues can frequently be traced to a poor diet. By feeding an appropriate diet of meat, bones, organ meat and vegetables many of these problems can be greatly reduced or eliminated.
Will feeding barf cure my pet?
No, feeding BARF does not directly cure any diseases or ailments. However, by removing biologically inappropriate food from your pet's diet you may very well be removing the source that is causing or aggravating your pet's condition. By feeding a BARF diet your pet will be receiving food from which he can absorb all of the nutrients that he needs to thrive, as well as to build a strong immune system.
Since BARF-fed pets have stronger immunie systems, are vacinations necessary?
BARF-fed pets are still susceptible to the same diseases as kibble-fed pets, however, a stronger immune system makes a BARF-fed pet more resistant to disease, as well as better equipped to fight off the diseases that he does contract. Vaccinating is a personal choice that only you can make for your pet.
Can my pet choke on the bones in a BARF diet?
Yes, it is possible for your pet to choke on a bone, although this is not very common. Remember that the BARF diet includes raw bones, not cooked ones. Raw bones are softer and easier to chew than cooked ones, and more nutritious! "Gulpers" or pets who eat their food quickly without much chewing, are the most susceptible to choking on a bone. Hanging on to one end of a meaty bone like a chicken back while your dog is eating is one way to encourage your pet to chew more thoroughly. In multi-pet households, separating pets at meal time may remove the competitive edge that encourages "gulping". If feeding whole bones still makes you uncomfortable we can substitute diets and meat minces with ground bone that eliminate this concern. If you feed meat minces I highly recommend that you give your pet recreational bones or tendons to chew on to exercise his gums and help keep his teeth clean!
Can my pet get salmonella or e-coli poisoning from eating raw meat?
It is extremely rare for a cat or dog to get sick from eating raw meat. The digestive tract of a carnivore is short so that organisms such as salmonella and e-coli do not have enough time to reproduce, and the high acidity of the carnivore's digestive tract is a very inhospitable environment for these organisms. That is why your cat or dog can lick themselves, pick up things off the ground, or eat an animal that has been dead for days and still not get sick. However, people can get sick from salmonella and e-coli, so please clean up thoroughly after handling raw meat!