BARF DIET
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Post 1 of 2:

BARF stands for either Bones And Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. There are a few variations of the diet, by different authors. Most notable is Dr Ian Billinghurst, with "Give Your Dog a Bone" and "Grow Your Pups With Bones". Other books by Kymythy Shultze, Wendy Volhard and Dr Richard Pitcairn are also popular, although not all are considered BARF.

I feed Billinghurst which is quite simple: raw meaty bones (chicken wings, turkey necks, etc) along with some veggies, organ meats, eggs and other goodies. As I have stated here before, I *do*not* recommend beginning a homemade feeding program without research first, which includes reading at least one GOOD book on the subject.

If anyone would like more info on the BARF diet, I recommend the BARF email list. Go to the OneList website to subscribe. You'll be able to ask questions of hundreds of BARF feeders from around the world.

Also, for anyone on AOL, there is an excellent message board for discussion of all aspects of dog nutrition. This is not just about BARF, but also the pros and cons of all types of processed foods as well. It would be great to see more mini people there. We've had some great discussions lately on the subject of pancreatitis and diet, led by and ER vet tech who says minis and dachshunds are the top two breeds she sees at her clinic with pancreatitis. :-(((((((

Check it out!
Irene in Montreal
mailto:AgGryphon@aol.com

Post 2 of 2:

First, feeding BARF is not just about getting white, shiny teeth, it's about getting a whole better, healthier dog.  For instance, someone asked a question about bladder stones, and if it is related to certain areas or breeding lines. To quote from the article I reposted the other day, talking about feeding a grainy, commercial food:

Improper urine pH,
stress on the intestine due to high fiber/high carbohydate diets
stress on the pancreas, stress on the liver,
all these things are the result of feeding commercial RECIPES.

Since commercial food adversely affects the urine pH, I'd say it can also contribute the formation of bladder stones.

Also referring to the above quote, about high fibre being stressful on the intestines do you know why kibble is so high in fibre? Because in order to go through an extruder, a mixture must be at least 40% fibre. Not because a dog needs that much fibre, it's just about processing.

Next: stress on the pancreas. I mentioned last week or so that there had been a discussion about pancreatitis on the AOL Dog Nutrition board, with a lot of input from an ER vet tech who sees a lot of this problem, especially in minis. What she doesn't see is pancreatitis in dogs fed BARF. The thing is that all that starchy kibble places so much stress on the pancreas that all it takes is one slip feeding the dog fatty food like pizza or bacon or whatever, and the dog ends up in the hospital with a pancreatic crisis. It's been reported that the pancreas in dogs fed kibble is two to three times the normal size. On the other hand, dogs fed BARF can usually handle a wide range of raw, natural foods.

Finally, stress on the liver. Some of this is due to processing the starch in commercial foods. But there are other reasons. In his book "Home Prepared Dog and Cat Diets," Dr Donald Strombeck, DVM, PhD, professor at UC Davis, and author of the basic veterinary text on gastroenterology, states that the copper levels in dogs' bodies has increased two-hundred-fold in the last 50 years. Copper in the diet can be toxic AND CAN CAUSE LIVER DISEASE, including chronic toxicity. The higher the copper levels, the more impaired becomes the liver's ability to excrete copper. He says that is is likely that increasing copper levels in food has caused the rise in copper sensitivity in dogs today. Copper levels vary among foods, some of the most popular have ludicrous copper levels. This is especially dangerous for breeds prone to copper toxicosis, a list which includes minis.

So, as you can see, there are some real health benefits to a diet that is more in tune with what a dog's body is meant to eat. And as others have mentioned here in the last few days, you can SEE the results in your dog, almost immediately. While we all appreciate seeing our dogs looking good, it's especially helpful for show breeders.

Just the other day, I mentioned this as a benefit on the AOL nutrition board. A breeder responded to me privately that she couldn't believe the difference. (She's been 'in dogs' for over 30 years, took over her parents' kennel.) She told me about showing the bitch and dog she'd kept from her last litter. They were both pointed, but not exactly burning up the ring. In March, she switched to BARF. Now her dogs are nearly finished, and out kicking the butts of the very same dogs who used to beat them. Why? Better coats, better musculature, brighter eyes, and better ATTITUDE.

There have been some questions about salmonella and e-coli. Yes, a dog can handle these (a healthy dog, in reasonable amounts no one would suggest feeding rotting meat). The acid in a dog's stomach is capable of dissolving bones, it can easily kill bacteria. A dog's stomach is 10 times more acid than that of a herbivore, like say a rabbit.

If you are concerned about your own safety when feeding raw chicken, you can first soak the chicken pieces in a vinegar-water solution, or in food-grade hydrogen-peroxide (check you health food store or drug store for this). This will kill almost all the surface bacteria on the meat. Vinegar and peroxide are actually such good bacteriacides that they do a better job of disinfecting kitchen counters etc. than bleach or other commonly sold disinfectants.

Here's a website with more on that:  
http://www.execpc.com/~mjstouff/articles/vinegar.html

After my dog is done eating, I usually just wipe her beard with a very wet washcloth, unless there are some 'clingers' which mean a good washing in the tub. If you are more concerned about infection, you might try using some of the peroxide to also wash the beard afterward.

Some people have suggested the books "The Ultimate Diet" by Kymythy Schultze, and "Give Your Dog a Bone" by Dr Ian Billinghurst. I would also suggest "Grow Your Pups With Bones" also by Dr Billinghurst. Not only is the BARF diet in this book easier to follow than the one in the original, but there is a lot of very interesting information on exactly how the BARF diet helps in healthy growth, and of course it's a gold mine of info for breeders.

Irene in Montreal mailto:AgGryphon@aol.com