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Raw food for dogs and cats is often referred to as the BARF Diet.
No, that is not a spelling mistake, but rather an acronym for 'Biologically Appropriate Raw Food'.
The BARF Diet is not new, it is actually the original diet that our beloved pets grew and thrived on for hundreds and even thousands of years before the kibble companies came on to the scene.
Ask yourself: If I did not have a bag of dry food kibble, what would I feed my dog and cat?
Table scraps of course. Or I'd let him/her catch his own meal like they did when I was young and living on a farm.
BARF Diet for Dogs and Cats is one consistent with the biological evolution of the animal. That means it is species specific and for dogs and cats this means a primarily carnivorous diet.
The biggest challenge with kibble, even a good quality one, is that it no longer contains any raw animal proteins.
If you read the page on Organic Raw Food, you will understand that cooking (and processing) renders the food biologically in-active. Heat denatures all protein, inactivates vital digestive enzymes and destroys most vitamins and minerals.
The other big challenge with kibble is that it contains too many grains (wheat, corn, soy, rye, barley, etc) that are not digestible by dogs and cats.
Did you ever wonder why the obesity rate for dogs and cats is rising so dramatically? In my opinion, the grains or carbohydrates in kibble is altering their metabolism such that they are becoming obese at alarming rates (even in pets that get appropriate amounts of exercise).
According to the fifth annual veterinary survey, 53 percent of dogs and 55 percent of cats to be classified as overweight or obese. That amounts to a staggering 88.4 million pets that are chronically SICK!
Both dogs and cats are carnivores, however cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to sustain life. Dogs on the other hand are scavenging carnivores and as such can survive if necessary on plant material alone. To thrive however, they do need meat, and lots of it.
The high grain content, combined with low protein and bone of kibble will allow our pets to stay alive, but not to thrive.
Just like the basic structure of a human diet is 65% carbohydrate, 20% protein and 15% fat, so too is there a structure of feeding for a dog and cat.
The important components of a BARF Diet are the following, in order of importance and quantity:
In the case of cats, follow the above food pyramid, but eliminate the veggies.
As another word on veggies, in case you have any ideas of making your pet a vegan, plant matter needs more time in the GI tract to break down. Dogs and cats have a very short digestive system lacking key enzymes for carbs and that is why whole vegetables will come out just as they did going in!
One of the biggest comments and concerns about feeding raw food for dogs and cats is the price.
And, yes, you are right, it is more expensive to feed raw as compared to kibble - that is there is an up front cost.
However, I want to clearly distinguish the up front cost from the long-term cost. And in my opinion, you will save thousands of dollars in the long run on vet bills, because feeding your pet a species appropriate BARF diet will maintain and sustain your pet's health.
Although most traditional vets will not agree, I do not know of a holistic vet out there who would argue against a BARF diet. Remember that most vets, like most medical doctors, are in the business of sick-care rather than well-care and they don't make a penny off of keeping your pet well. In addition, they are pressured and even rewarded by drug and food companies to 'sell' and 'market' certain items, irrespective of the well-being of the animal.
And just so I am clear, you may have found a wonderful vet that is very open to alternative healing – great. I'm just saying question everything a vet tells you, as well as what I tell you. It is your choice, so do the research and see what makes the most sense!
As an animal healer, I find this topic extremely important, as most veterinarians do not understand what constitutes good nutrition, and consequently most pet owners have never even thought to inquire into their pet's dietary needs.
Nutrition is the cornerstone of health, vitality and longevity. Because of this, I wanted to interview a long time breeder and raw food for dogs and cats expert, as well as a holistic veterinarian (who just happens to be this breeder's daughter) on a radio show that I was hosting for a short time.
Some of the common questions we cover on the interview are:
These questions as well as most other common questions will be answered in this one-hour , so I encourage you to take the time to listen. Just turn it on while you are folding laundry or preparing dinner.
And if you are further inclined, I also have an interview from a prominent holistic vet called , which is a nice compliment to further understanding natural healing alternatives for your furry companions.
As a word of advice, if you can't handle feeding your carnivorous dog and cat raw food, then you better consider getting a goat instead!
To leave you with a quote from one of my favourite leaders, Gandhi:
Yours in Wellness,
The Marriage Vows of Healing
Birth into Being
Breath of Life
Family Systems and Communication
Stress Management versus Energy Management
Detoxification Do's and Don'ts
Gluten: The Silent Killer
Universal Laws of Attraction
BARF Diet: Raw Food for your Dogs and Cats
Heart Coherence and Be Peace
The New Holistic Way for Dogs and Cats