In the 1850’s a young electrician by the name of James Spratt went off to London to sell lightning Rods. When his ship arrived the crew threw the leftover hard tack biscuits, a mixture that consisted of flour, salt and water, to the stray dogs on the dock, and they were instantly devoured. This gave James an idea, and in 1860 he produced the first processed dog food called ” Dog Cakes” which consisted of wheat flour, beet root, and vegetables bound together with beef blood. There was so much success in England with this new pet food, that in 1860, he brought the product to the US and the pet food industry was born. The need for convenience in these industrial times was ultimately why kibble became the new dog food of choice.
However, in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, introduced the BARF diet, an acronym that stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food has been the standard in the Raw food trend. Is this diet right for you and your pets? Lets discuss the pros and cons.
- Full of Calcium and vitamins. Lots of fresh fruits, veggies and lean protein.
- You control what goes into your dogs food. You will never be affected by commercial pet food recalls.
- Raw diets (especially home-made diets) allow you to meet your dog’s specific needs. Raw diets can be prepared with or without foods based on allergies, sensitivities, or what’s on sale that week. Your dog will have variety.
- Preservative free. This one is self explanatory.
- Healthier skin, coat, teeth and gums
- Chewing on bones is a natural outlet that relieves dogs from chewing elsewhere.
- Experts state that your dog will have smaller stools (that’s always a plus.)
- Owners state that raw food helps protect the dogs immune system
- Not everyone has time to prepare meals for their pets. The raw food diet definitely lacks the convenience factor.
- It’s not cheap. Not everyone can afford to keep these on hand just for your dog. Price is something that you need to consider.
- Feeding bones can cause choking, intestinal blockage or perforations, and chipped or broken teeth.
- Raw diets have been found to contain Salmonella, Campylobacter, E.coli, Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium botulinium, and Staphylococcus aureus, all of which are known human and canine pathogens. All of which are excreted in dog feces and can be transferred to carpets and furniture on dogs feet.
- Raw vegetables are often poorly digested by dogs. Most of the nutrients in raw vegetables are rendered more available when they are lightly cooked and then ground. (Source)
Just because kibble is convenient, and an inexpensive way to feed your dog, does that mean it’s what we should automatically feed them? Everyone has different opinions on the subject. Kibble may be right for you, or you may be a naturalist and take the raw food approach. In the last 20 years though, the raw food diet has made a large comeback as more and more animal health and training professionals are advocating a second look at what is best to feed our dogs and cats. So what exactly does a raw diet consist of? What you choose to prepare will vary from person to to person but it generally includes:
- Muscle meat, often still on the bone
- Bones, either whole or ground
- Organ meats such as livers and kidneys
- Raw eggs with shell ( egg shells are calcium rich)
- Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery
- Apples or other fruit
- Some dairy, such as plain yogurt.
So there you go. Is the raw diet right for everyone? No. It’s not a one size fits all approach to feeding. The bottom line is that you need to do what is right for you. You should not be looked down on in any way if you should choose to feed your pet kibble. You should, however, consult with a veterinarian about what you are feeding your dog to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need on a daily basis. Whichever method you choose is right, as long as your dog or cat is happy and healthy.