When it comes to feeding your dog there is no shortage of options. One only needs to walk down the pet aisle of your supermarket, then take a walk past the meat section, and your choices are endless. Let alone if you want the more expensive biscuit brands available in your pet store!
Now, before I go on any further I am no animal nutritionist by any means. I am just an average bloke who when it comes to dogs has been lucky enough to see a fair bit, both with working dogs and pet dogs alike. I do think it gives me the right to give you an informed opinion based on my personal experiences, research and the ability to apply some good old common sense!
After 18 years in the police dog squad, I certainly got to see a lot of different dog foods in use. From luncheon style processed meat loafs, to cheap and expensive biscuit brands, believe me when I say I got to see the lot…but one diet from my experience stood head and shoulders above the rest.
When I mention the term BARF some of you are going to know what I am referring to, some of you will not.
BARF stands for Biological Appropriate Raw Food Diet or Bones and Raw Food Diet.
Basically it is a raw food diet that mimics what a dog would eat in its natural environment before being domesticated. The prime ingredients being: bones, meat, fat, organ meat and vegetable matter. As you can imagine a dog in nature would eat all these ingredients when killing prey including vegetable matter which would be in the stomach contents of the animal they were eating.
After several years in the Dog Squad I had seen many apparently healthy dogs die from many illnesses including Gastric Torsion (twisted bowel), Hepatitis, heart disease etc etc. After one of my own dogs had died suddenly I started to question what we were putting into our dogs mouths in the name of ‘good nutrition’. It did not take long to come to a very basic conclusion. In terms of feeding our dogs, over time, we have moved away from a natural diet in the name of convenience.
There is no doubt that most dogs today are on a biscuit diet. Heavily cooked (killing most of the nutrient value), carbohydrate/grain based, processed biscuits…that are easy to buy, easy to store and damn convenient to feed your dog.
However I seriously began to question whether these biscuits we were feeding our dogs (yes they were the expensive ones) could actually supply the basic nutrients for a sustainable life for a dog…let alone a working dog?
Put simply, by feeding a BARF diet, what I saw was a healthy dog!
Large organisations like Guide Dogs Queensland now have their entire colony of dogs on an exclusively BARF diet. At $30k plus to get a dog to the level it can be paired up with a vision impaired person, they need their dogs to be as healthy as possible and to have as long a life as possible too. It’s simple economics.
Well, you can make it yourself! I make most of my own BARF and have no trouble recommending the same to you if you do a bit of research. Alternatively you can get some form of a BARF diet from most pet stores and some supermarkets. The big thing to ensure is that it is free of any artificial preservatives and contains the key ingredients I mentioned above. Some searching online will help you find plenty of sources. One very good manufacturer of BARF is:
I’ll leave you with this thought…when first considering a BARF diet I had to remind myself, dogs are a mammal like us, right? I know their dietary requirements are a little different to ours (for example they need more fat and less carbs) but they are a mammal with a lot of similarities in what they require to live a healthy life.
Ask yourself this one question that I also remember asking myself many years ago…If a company brought out a children’s food that was solely in the form of a grain based biscuit, how long would it last in the market place before it was howled down by every nutritionist (and hopefully every parent!) out there?