I believe the best way to start this post is by answering one essential question: “What is BARF?”. This is what I typed in the Google search engine when we first got George and were looking for advice on the best things to feed him, so it is the obvious starting point for a discussion about dog nutrition.
First of all, BARF is not a word, but an acronym. It is essential to remember this when you search the term on the Internet, otherwise you may come to the wrong conclusion that I’m urging you to feed your beloved pets “vomited food”. In actual fact, BARF stands for “biologically appropriate raw food” or, in simpler, less fancy words, “bones and raw food”. Hopefully, the vail is now lifted and you get a hint of what this BARF thing is all about: feeding your dog (or cat) a raw diet in accordance with their physical needs, the way nature intended it.
This is the core concept on which the entire BARF diet is based: give dogs raw food instead of the processed alternatives that are commercially available on supermarket and pet shop shelves. Raw food includes – as you’ve most likely guessed – fresh meat (either minced or in chunks), offal, bones (either whole or ground with the meat) and an array of fresh fruit and vegetables. The idea is to feed your dog a healthy diet which will not only tickle their taste buds but will also improve their health, condition their coat, put a sparkle in their eyes and generally increase their alertness and zest for life.
There is extensive evidence on the Internet regarding the benefits of a natural raw diet. There are people who have dedicated a lot of their time to researching this subject, conducting studies and quantifying the benefits that this diet has had on tens of thousands of pets, and the results of their research are easy to find at a click of a button. Here are two of my favourite online resources on the subject: Barf World and the UK Barf Club , both brimming with information that will quickly set you on the right track. If you prefer the smell of fresh print and the feel of a page, then the two books any raw feeder would recommend are Give Your Dog a Bone and The Barf Diet by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, who is the promoter of the concept and the owner of the ‘Barf diet’ trademark.
Over the next few weeks, my Friday posts will focus on presenting they way in which we have adapted and use the principles of raw feeding to suit our dog’s needs and tastes and, very importantly, to suit our family. I will provide a detailed guide to George’s diet, in the hope that it will help other dog owners decide that this is the right choice for them.