The BARF diet

The Verde Valley Humane Society “Pet of the Week” is Lyla.  She is a beautiful Calico kitten. This precious little girl’s adoption fee has been discounted by $20 thanks to Sparky and Dewey.

The Verde Valley Humane Society “Pet of the Week” is Lyla. She is a beautiful Calico kitten. This precious little girl’s adoption fee has been discounted by $20 thanks to Sparky and Dewey.

The Pet Corner last week brought you information on our pets eating table food. Yes, I am as guilty as everyone else about sharing a morsel now and then.

I do try to be careful as to what I give our animals. By the way, don’t worry about them getting any chocolate at our house.

Since I realize that chocolate can be very harmful to dogs I am very strict about the chocolate being brought into our home.

I once had a rule that I had to eat all chocolate soon as it is brought into the house. That changed when I recently got married. Seems Al had the same rule in his house.

Needless to say there is absolutely no chance of our dogs or anyone else getting sick from chocolate being ingested.

What do you feel are the right things to feed your animals? This can bring quite a debate when animal lovers get together.

Do you use commercial food? Do you pay attention to the quality or are you more concerned with your animal getting full or how well your pet likes the food?

Have you placed your animals on a fruit and vegetable diet? Have you decided to feed your animals only food that you cook for them? What do you feel is best?

Many people I have spoken to cook for their pets as they do themselves. As I researched the subject I found that animals may fail to get the nutrients that they need to live healthy lives.

Last year if you remember, brought a multitude of pet food recalls. That made feeding choices even more complex.

Things have been relatively quiet in the news lately, but the recalls still continue. When you receive animal publications and read certain animal related websites you will find the recalls have never really stopped.

It’s not only the food is being recalled. You can also add biscuits, treats and even rawhides to the list.

When you work at the Verde Valley Humane Society, it means you really need to pay attention to all of the food coming in.

Just because it is a well known brand doesn’t mean it is good for animals in a caged environment. Extreme caution is used for the protection of the animals.

What have you decided to do when it comes to feeding your furry best friend? Are you sharing your food with your best friend?

Our animals require different vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that they won’t get from our diets. Please research before you change your “best friend’s” diet to your diet.

Once again I have been asked about the BARF diet, so I am going to provide some of the information to you.

Personally I have not switched to this diet, but I have friends that have been feeding their dogs the BARF diet for years and highly recommend it.

An Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst developed the BARF diet. This diet is based on feeding dogs raw, meaty bones, animal offal, raw vegetables and supplements instead of the commercially-processed or home cooked diets that so many of us use. A bag of kibbles is out of the question when it comes to the BARF diet.

Dr. Billinghurst describes the BARF diet in his own words: “ The aim of the BARF is to maximize the health, longevity and reproductive capacity of dogs and by so doing, minimize the need for veterinary intervention.

How do you feed a dog properly? You feed it the diet that it evolved to eat. Artificial grain based dog foods cause innumerable health problems.

Grain based foods are not what your dog was programmed to eat during its long process of evolution.

That brings up the disgusting habit of animals eating “road kill.” As awful as it sounds animals in the wild do eat other animals. Yes, we have all seen those episodes on National Geographic.

Let’s talk about a diet that is a biologically appropriate diet for a dog. It is one that consists of raw whole foods similar to those eaten by the dogs’ 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 was those wild ancestors ate.”

It is very important that you speak with your pets’ veterinarian before switching him or her to any other diet.

Some vets have serious doubts about feeding raw meat and ground bones to our canine friends; others highly recommend the BARF diet.

Please get advice before making any radical changes in your animals’ diet. It’s not just something you would want to try for a couple of days.

Are you asking yourself exactly what ingredients would be in this diet if you made it at home?

You may be surprised to find out that many of the items can be purchased at your local supermarket.

If you have a garden it can provide many of the items needed to formulate a nutritious meal for your “best friend.”

The BARF diet includes a variation of items. Organ meat, uncooked muscle, meaty bones, vegetables, fruit, yogurt, raw eggs, cooked cereals, cottage cheese, herbs, enzymes and other supplements.

The items you choose to make the BARF diet should be as fresh as possible. The whole idea is to give our animals the best diet possible. Let’s talk about what the different ingredients mean.

A raw meaty bone for example means that the bones are at least half meat and include a bone that is fully consumable.

Unlike the bones we give our dogs as treats. Those bones are chewed, but not consumed.

The bones used in the BARF diet usually include turkey and chicken necks, leg quarters, backs, necks and breasts of lamb and pork, plus pork rib lets.

These items are at times harder to find than normal bones. It may be necessary to order them from your butcher by the case.

This is another time that it would be a good idea to team up with a friend and make the diet in mass.

Canned fish with bones is often used in making the diet. Types used may be pink salmon, sardines and mackerel.

Use caution if you choose to use raw fish, it may contain parasites that can be harmful to your pet.

These raw meaty bones should make up 30 to 50 per cent of the total diet. Research before you begin to make your own BARF diet, as there are many variables for you to consider.

Such as, will you be grinding the items in the diet? Do you have an adequate area to make and store mass quantities of the homemade foods?

In the BARF diet and important ingredient is also organ meat. Kidney and liver are nutrient-dense and provide nutritional value.

Hearts may also be used, but they are more like muscle meat. You may also use the spleen, eyeballs, brain, pancreas and thymus in small amounts.

Muscle meats include any meat that is not considered an organ meat. It can be fed in chunks or ground.

Eggs may be fed raw or cooked. It is said for easier digestion that you may want to cook them as the whites are easier on the digestive tract.

Cottage cheese, kefir and yogurt are well tolerated dairy products that are very nutritious for our pets.

Dogs do not require carbohydrates, so feeding fruit; vegetables and grains are a choice that you get to make.

They do provide some nutritional value, especially if you use the green leafy types. Due to fact that most vegetables low calorie content, they may be added as extras in the diet. It is advised to cook or puree them for better digestion.

If you choose to add fruits to the diet, remember to avoid raisins and grapes which may lead to kidney damage in some dogs. Melons, berries, bananas and apples are very good choices.

Using starchy vegetables, legumes or grains may lead to problems while not providing much nutrition in the process.

Supplements must be added to the diet to provide your best friend with everything he or she needs. The recommended list contains:

Salmon oil or fish body oil (along with Vitamin E)

Kelp/alfalfa mixtures or sea blends

Apple Cider vinegar (organic)

Raw honey

Crushed garlic (no more than one small clove per 20 pounds of dog)

Dark molasses

Ginger

Nutritional yeast

The subject of the BARF diet has been “slightly touched” in my column today. My thoughts were to provide you with information that may help you decide if this is something you would like to do for your pets.

Researching the subject is something that I highly recommend. The ingredients need to be used in proper portions to avoid any gastrointestinal problems.

Many have asked me if I have seen the results of this diet when used on our canine friends. Indeed I have. Your questions and my observations are what made me write about the subject today.

What I observed were healthy, allergy free animals with silky coats and great looking teeth. That speaks loudly in my ears.

You have also asked me what I prefer to feed my animals. Honestly we use commercial foods and after last weeks’ column you are aware that our animals get table scraps now and then.

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