What Is BARF Feeding and How It Can Enhance Your Dog's Health
Author: Mikael Öling
Every dog owner wants the best for their furry companion, including the optimal diet that ensures a happy, healthy life. One diet that has gained significant traction among pet enthusiasts is the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet. Let's dive into what BARF feeding entails and how it can potentially enhance your dog's health.
What is the BARF diet for dogs?
The BARF method for dogs stands for "Biologically Appropriate Raw Food" or "Bones and Raw Food." This diet focuses on feeding dogs raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables, aiming to mimic what dogs' ancestors would have eaten in the wild. Here are the key components of the BARF diet:
- Raw Meat: The diet mainly consists of raw, uncooked meats. This can include muscle meat, organ meats (like liver and kidneys), and other raw animal products.
- Bones: Raw, edible bones are a crucial part of the diet, as they are a natural source of calcium and other minerals. These can be whole bones or ground up in the food.
- Fruits and Vegetables: These are included to provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are typically pureed or finely chopped for better digestion.
- Supplements: Depending on the specific ingredients used, some BARF diets may require additional supplements to ensure a balanced diet. This can include vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
- Exclusion of Grains and Processed Foods: The BARF diet typically avoids grains, processed meats, and other commercial dog food ingredients.
Is BARF Good for Dogs?
Yes, the BARF diet has been proven to be beneficial for dogs health and wellbeing.
Raw feeding has become a lot more common in recent years, and several studies also support the benefits of raw feeding.
Diet affects the dog's body extensively. The dog needs food for daily energy needs and activity, but it also has a holistic impact on physical health and mental well-being. Nutritional problems start to show up quickly in a form of different deficiencies and symptoms, which is why it’s important that the food the dog is eating is the best possible quality and supports the dog’s natural diet.
The important nutrients from raw meat absorb best in the dog's short intestine. On the other hand, a dog does not need a lot of carbohydrates, i.e. grain. For this reason, many dogs benefit significantly from raw feeding.
A raw diet consists of a variety of 100% natural ingredients, including different kinds of meats, viscera, bones, vegetables, and fruits. This mimics a dog’s natural diet as a carnivore (i.e., what the dog would eat from the prey’s body and the content of the stomach) as far as possible.
The advantage of raw food is that the materials are processed as little as possible. This means that the nutrients are also better preserved because cooking and industrial production destroys a large part of the usable nutrients, good bacteria, and enzymes.
Benefits of feeding your dog the BARF diet
There are several benefits of BARF feeding:
- Improved dental health: Chewing on raw bones can help scrape away plaque and tartar build-up.
- Better digestion: Raw food can be easier for dogs to digest, potentially resulting in smaller and less odorous stools.
- Healthier coat and skin: A raw diet often leads to a shinier coat and less skin irritation due to the natural fats and oils present in raw meat.
- Weight management: The BARF diet can help maintain a healthy weight as it tends to be lower in calories and higher in protein than some commercial diets.
- Better alertness and more energy
- Cleaner ears
- Better appetite
Supported by research at the University of Helsinki
In recent years there has been extensive research on raw feeding. The DogRisk research group, which studies the nutrition and health of dogs at the University of Helsinki, is one of the organizations that examines the effects of raw feeding, and studies have shown that a bio-available diet has many positive effects on dog health.
Recent studies have shown that adding raw food to your dog’s diet improves their overall health and longevity of life. Significant health benefits can already be seen when feeding just 20% of a dog’s daily diet in raw food.
Uncooked raw-based foods that included meat, raw vegetables, and berries reduced the dog’s atopies and allergies, while traditional dry foods increased the risk of them. In addition, the studies of raw food have also shown beneficial effects, e.g. the condition of dogs' joints, growth problems, and general condition.
In an exclusive interview, Dr Anna Hielm-Björkman, head of the DogRisk research group at the University of Helsinki, responds to some questions, concerns that many pet owners have about raw feeding.
How to get your dog started on a raw diet
There are several frozen wholesome raw foods on the market. These foods need to be kept frozen and defrosted for a few hours before feeding. Can raw feeding be any easier than this?
Pala's products have been developed in collaboration with the DogRisk research team, to meet the needs of raw feeding in the form of dry kibble.
Pala is made from high-quality raw materials and air-dried to preserve all the nutrients that are important to the dog. The products contain at least 82% meat and fish, vegetables, berries, and nature's active ingredients, without grains, additives, or preservatives.
The structure of Pala is like dry kibble, so it can be stored at room temperature and is suitable for a dog's diet as such, as a snack or as a complement to the diet.
Pala is an easy and safe way to ensure that your dog gets everything it needs - without any mess.