BARF Diet for Dogs - Barking Chef

BARF Diet for Dogs: Pros & Cons

Disclaimer: Our content is always reviewed and approved by a professional veterinarian. However, we recommend always reaching out to your dog's vet for any advice regarding your pup.

Are you looking for a new way to feed your dog?

The BARF diet is an increasingly popular way to feed your dog a healthy meal. It can help with allergies, skin issues, digestive problems, and other common issues that can affect your puppy’s life.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the benefits of feeding a BARF diet to your pup, as well as some of the risks you should be aware of if you’re considering giving this diet a shot.

Let’s get to it.

What Is the BARF Diet?

First of all, what is BARF?

Well, it stands for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food” and is just what the name states: a completely natural and biologically-appropriate raw diet of meats and bones.

You see, the theory behind this diet is that dogs are carnivores and should be fed a meat-based diet. With the BARF diet, they’ll get just that – raw bones and raw food made from animal products like beef, chicken, lamb, quail, fish, duck, among others.

Benefits of the BARF Diet for Dogs

There are several different benefits of the BARF diet for dogs. Among them, the BARF diet can help improve your pup’s digestion, boost their immune system and give them more energy.

In fact, transitioning your dog into a BARF diet can improve his health overall. This is because a raw diet is the appropriate diet for dogs’ physiologies as carnivores. In other words, as carnivores, this is the food that they were meant to eat.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of the BARF diet.

1. Helps With Allergies & Skin Issues

Pet allergies are most commonly caused by food or environmental factors.

As pet owners ourselves, we know how heartbreaking it is to watch our pups suffer from itchy skin and other allergy symptoms.

The BARF diet has been shown to improve allergies and skin conditions in some animals, which is why many people are giving it a try for their pup’s chronic allergy symptoms.

Now the truth is, there have only been a few scientific studies done on this topic. However, it is believed that since raw food doesn’t contain the preservatives and other additives found in processed foods, it could help to reduce the inflammation and irritation that these foods cause in some dogs.

While there isn’t a lot of scientific proof backing up the BARF diet, there are reports of satisfied dog owners who state they noticed a decrease in symptoms within days or weeks of starting the BARF diet.

Other owners state that they needed up to six months for their dog’s condition to improve, but that it did eventually improve.

2. Helps Fight Digestive Issues

Eating a raw and balanced diet can help your dog fight digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea.

This is because kibble usually contains grains like rice, corn and others that are hard to digest. The BARF diet, on the other hand, contains fat and protein which are a dog’s natural sources of energy and a lot easier to digest.

Also, this diet, unlike kibble, contains no additives or preservatives, which can cause an upset stomach.

3. Promotes Healthy Teeth and Gums

The BARF diet also helps keep the teeth and gums healthy.

Unlike kibble, which usually contains high levels of carbohydrates and sugars, the raw diet is 100% natural and doesn’t include any of these ingredients that contribute to tooth and gum decay.

Also, the raw bones kind of act as a toothbrush. The cartilage on the bones helps to clean your dog’s teeth as he’s happily chewing his bones.

4. Makes Your Pup Feel More Satisfied After Eating

Raw diets are also more nutrient-dense, which can make your dog feel more satisfied after eating, even if the actual portion size is slightly smaller.

In fact, you might even notice that they won’t beg for snacks as often as they would with kibble or other diets.

5. Helps Improve Their Immune System

The reality is that many of the conditions dogs develop are due to poor nutrition.

So, by feeding them a raw and wholly organic diet that’s more in line with how they were originally meant to eat, you’re giving their immune system the best possible tools to fight whatever comes its way.

Risks of the BARF Diet for Dogs

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet. Not for us and not for our furry friends.

Each dog has his own individual dietary needs based on his age, breed, health, and medical background. So, don’t assume the BARF diet will be the ideal choice for your dog because it might not be.

As with any change in your dog’s nutrition, you’ll need to consult with a vet before starting a new diet.

But let’s get back on track.

While it is believed that a raw diet can have many benefits, it is also true that there are some risks associated with it.

We’ll go over those now.

1. Dangerous Bacteria in Raw Foods

Raw foods can contain dangerous bacteria that can lead to illness both for your dog and yourself. In fact, according to the FDA, there are about 48 million illnesses a year in humans due to tainted food.

A study done by the FDA found that raw chicken samples had an incidence of Salmonella bacteria at about 20%. Raw beef also contained some dangerous bacterial (about 50% for E. coli).

This is a problem because not only can these bacteria make your dog sick, they will likely be passed onto you if your pup licks you or if you touch his toys while playing catch together.

This is why it is recommended that raw foods be frozen at -20ºC (except for the eggs) for 3 days to prevent pathogenic microorganisms from developing, while also eliminating potential parasites in raw meats.

2. Choking Hazard

While the bones in the raw food can help clean the teeth, there are also some dangers associated with chewing on raw bones that definitely have some owners concerned.

For one, if your pup swallows a small bone, there is the risk of that bone getting lodged in his throat and cause him to choke.

Also, pieces of bone may get stuck in his intestines and create a blockage that could be life-threatening.

3. Intestinal Discomfort

We saw before that the BARF diet helps fight digestive issues. This is still true. However, because it doesn’t contain any fiber, this diet can be tough on your dog’s digestive system if not introduced correctly.

In fact, some pet owners have reported having to change their pets back to a regular diet after transitioning them too quickly to raw food.

Well, the truth is that any quick diet changes can lead to gas, diarrhea, and overall intestinal discomfort. That’s why there always needs to be a slow transition from the old diet to the new diet, BARF or otherwise.

Closing Thoughts

The bottom line is that each dog needs to have a diet that’s right for him and his needs, an overall balanced diet.

The truth is this can be possible with the BARF diet. Many raw food brands formulate their diets taking into account each dog’s needs like weight, health issues, breed, age, activity level, and more, making it custom-made for each dog and completely balanced.

This diet definitely has some benefits and could be ideal for dogs battling skin issues, tooth decay, or other health problems.

If you want to give this diet a try, check with your dog’s vet first if it’s an appropriate diet for your pup.

Also, be aware of the risks of this diet before you take the plunge and talk them over with your vet as well.

Happy feeding!

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