BARF has come to mean many things, but essentially it is the nick name for a raw food diet. BARF has been said to mean Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food, but whichever meaning you choose, it means feeding your dog or cat the raw food they were designed to eat when they lived in the wild.
Dogs and cats are essentially hunters. They catch and kill herbivores ranging from mice, rats and birds to rabbits, goats and sheep, depending on their size. Dogs are also very successful scavengers, having the adaptability to survive on carcasses, herbivore faeces (well digested grass!), vegetation, fallen fruit and soft fruit they actually pick fresh from the bush. However they thrive on a diet of raw meat and bone with some vegetation mixed in. This replicates the consumption of a whole herbivore.
BARF – The Definition
So let’s look at how a whole wild raw rabbit fits into the definition of BARF. Rabbits spend about 15 hours a day eating grass. They have teeth specially adapted to chewing this very fibrous, highly nutritious vegetable into a pulp which they then swallow and digest. So their guts are full of well chewed, partially digested grass, a rich source of enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and numerous other micronutrients essential for health. The carnivore catches the rabbit and effectively capitalizes on all that work the rabbit has done. Carnivores hardly chew their food at all. A few good crunches and it’s gone! Carnivores’ teeth are designed to cut the food into small enough pieces to swallow. Their digestive system does the rest, so any vegetation they eat passes through largely unchanged, unless someone has chewed it first! The rabbit supplies the carnivore with meat, bone and chewed up, partly digested vegetation (containing all those nutrients just mentioned) as well as plenty of roughage in the form of fur, toenails and the rest!
Raw Food Diet – The Aim
So the aim of the BARF diet for our carnivorous pets is to supply raw meaty bones and well chewed greens as well as a whole food supplement (like Pet Plus) to fill in the gaps. To do this, I recommend starting off on minced meat and bone, like Prize Choice, Natural Instinct or Honeys Real Dog Food. Mix with that some liquidized or pulverized greens, like grass, a few dandelions, nettles, spinach, broccoli, cucumber, celery, parsley for example and mix Pet Plus with all of that to provide the numerous micronutrients found in the gut contents of the rabbit as well as some extra digestive enzymes to make the digestive process easier and more successful for your pet.
When your dog or cat gets used to the joy of having BARF every day, you could introduce some raw chicken wings about 3 times a week. I now give my cats and dogs raw organic chicken carcasses from Riverford Organics 3 times a week and minced meat and bone and vegetation 4 times a week. Sometimes I feed a mixture of both daily, so a little of the minced meat and bone with the pulverized greens and Pet Plus followed by a raw carcass. They love it!