In 1993, Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst wrote a book “Give Dog a Bone” promoting the so-called Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet. The diet was designed to mirror the evolutionary diet of dogs before they became domesticated and before modern breeds were developed.
Billinghurst believes that the grain-based pet foods found in groceries and pet stores could be harmful dogs; hence, he proposed a diet of raw meat, meaty bones and vegetable scraps. The concept of raw food spread around the world with many advocates swearing to its benefits; however, it doesn’t seem to find favor among some pet owners. Opponents believe that raw food diet can lead to severe health problems among dogs in addition to the fact that there is little scientific evidence to support its supposed benefits.
List of Pros of Raw Food Diet for Dogs
1. Promotes better digestion.
While most of the health benefits attributed to raw food diet are anecdotal, the experts agree that raw, natural dog food is better than store-brought food when it comes to digestion. Exception has to be given to meats though as these need to be at least partially cooked in order to avoid bacterial infection.
2. No chemicals, preservatives, etc.
One advantage of raw food diet is that, as a pet owner, you know exactly what goes into your pet’s food bowl. You know where the food came from and its quality; you can guarantee that it has no preservatives, additives and any other harmful chemicals that usually come with pre-packaged foods. Not to mention, you can tailor the food to better suit your pet’s needs.
List of Cons of Raw Food Diet for Dogs
1. Nutrients might be hard to process for some dogs.
Most domesticated dogs are not active enough to process a diet of completely raw meat and bones, limiting their nutrient intake. This means that if your pet has low activity level, the less meat you should feed him.
2. Risk to infections.
There are several evidences proving that feeding of raw meat pose dogs to infectious diseases, and that there’s the potential for contaminating or shedding these agents in the pet’s environment. One study shows that Salmonella shedding by dogs can result in illness among employees, clients and animals present in animal facilities and shelters.
3. Nutritional risk.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information noted a number of isolated case reports on the risk of raw food diet for pets. In one case, a cat was reported to suffer from hypervitaminosis A after it was fed a pork liver-based raw food. In another, two liters of 6-week-old puppies were reported to have suffered from nutritional osteodystrophy after being fed of BARF diet from about three weeks of age.
4. Nutrional Imbalance.
Getting the nutritional balance of dog food right within the home by pet owners can be challenging. Most often, dog owners are completely unaware that something is lacking from their pet’s diet until the symptoms show up.
Raw food diet for dogs is not new; however, there is little scientific evidence available to help pet owners decide to go for or against it for their dogs. This is why everyone is encouraged to get their vet’s opinion if considering making significant changes to their dog’s diet.