What is the BARF Diet and how to feed raw dog food?
The BARF Diet (or ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’ and ‘Bones and Raw Food’) follows the principle of evolution that dogs are descended from grey wolves, and although humans have changed their external appearance as well as special skills (guarding, protecting, hunting or as human companions), the dog’s digestive system however remains unchanged.
Dogs belong to the family of carnivores i.e. raw meat eaters with sharp incisors designed for more than just grinding vegetables and grain. The natural raw diet is high in protein, moderate in fat, has minimal amounts of carbohydrates and consists of raw muscle and organ meat, raw meaty bones, and fruit and vegetables. We believe this is the healthier way to feed dogs.
Why Feed the BARF Diet?
The intense heat used to prepare some commercial dog food allegedly destroys and reduces nutrients like vitamins, minerals and enzymes, taking away a lot of their natural goodness from the ingredients. Some types of dry and wet processed foods also contain a large amount of grains, cereals and other fillers together with artificial colouring, additives and preservatives.
We feel these are inappropriate for dogs and if fed over a long period of time, allegedly can result in allergies and intolerances as well as a number of other health conditions.
The health benefits that have been attributed to the BARF Diet include:
- Tartar build-up on the teeth can be eliminated, breath is improved and a dog will heave stronger teeth.
- Itchy skin conditions associated with allergies can be alleviated.
- Chronic diarrhoea often disappears and stool volume and odour can be significantly reduced.
- A dog’s weight will be brought into line and it is easier to maintain a leaner, fit body.
Natural vitamins and minerals in their uncooked state can help to maintain a healthy skin, coat immune system and joints.
Making The Transition To Raw Feeding
There are various schools of thought in respect to switching your dog’s food over to a high quality raw diet.
Some believe that it’s acceptable to just make a complete switch whereas we believe that it’s best to make a gradual switch over a period of some 7 to 10 days, gradually reducing the original food and increasing the raw percentage.
Initially it is best to stick with a single protein source, we would normally recommend something like Tripe as this is easily digestible and contains a lot of nutrients. Another good option is Chicken or Turkey, these are less likely to cause any upset stomachs.
Once your dog has settled into a new feeding regime we recommend the use of bones and offal after around a month.
Occasionally when a dog’s diet is switched to a raw dog food diet you may find that they vomit a small amount of white foam or yellow bile usually in the morning, this is the digestive tract adjusting to the higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet and is usually nothing to worry about. However, should this persist please contact us for advice.
How To Feed The BARF Diet
If your dog is already used to eating a percentage of raw meat and bones in its diet then switching to a complete raw diet should be very easy. If your dog is not used to the taste and texture of raw meat then you will need to introduce this slowly as his digestive tract will need to adjust to this new food.
We suggest that you start by replacing 1/4 of your dog’s daily food with raw meat and vegetables and gradually increase this amount, over a period of seven to ten days, until you are feeding 100% BARF Diet. If you are still feeding kibble then, it is advisable to treat it and raw meat as two separate meals because kibble takes longer to digest.
Defrost as much food as you need per day. Do not re-freeze food once it has been defrosted but, any food that you have not used, can be kept safely in your fridge for 3-4 days.
Always ensure your dog has free access to clean, fresh drinking water.
The Raw Ingredients
Human grade British meat is used in our Standard, Albion Country Bowl Premium Pure, Chunky and Freeflow ranges and quality vegetables and fruit are added to our Premium Complementary Feed range.
We offer a wide choice of meat and fish varieties in our meals including Beef, Chicken, Tripe, Lamb, Mackerel, Salmon, Turkey, Rabbit, Venison and Duck as well as a selection of offal treats, bones, Beef Chunks, Tripe Chunks, Chicken Wings and Necks and Fish Fillets to add variety to mealtimes.
Albion Meat Products’ ranges do not contain wheat, rice, soya, eggs, dairy produce, animal derivatives, additives, preservatives or colouring. Many people believe that such ingredients have been the cause of a variety of health problems in dogs.
No extra vitamin supplements are added to our meals as all the vitamins and minerals that your dog needs come straight from the natural ingredients in the food. This is the philosophy of a true BARF Diet, nothing added, nothing taken away, just healthy food containing quality ingredients.
Meat (lean meat, fat, offal) supplies the body with an excellent source of protein and contains the essential amino and fatty acids, as well as some minerals and vitamins that dogs of all ages need to maintain good health.
Tripe contains the lactic acid bacteria, which is the main ingredient in probiotics, the same gastric juices that help cattle with digestion aid the dog in digesting and efficiently utilising food.
Chicken in also a good source of Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids as well as a natural source of Chondroitin and Glucosamine, which are essential for the joints and cartilages.
Lamb and Beef are rich in the vitamins and minerals, which help to protect a dog’s immune system.
Fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids and is especially good for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Bones ground or whole contain Calcium and Phosphorous, which are important for strong teeth and bones.
Fruit and Vegetables supply dogs with many health promoting nutrients, fibre, Omega 3 essential fatty acids, enzymes, antioxidants and photochemicals.
Feeding Raw Bones
The addition of raw bones to the diet offers stimulation and exercise for the jaw as well as introducing natural minerals into your dog’s diet. Raw bones provide amazing dental health benefits for dogs as, when chewed, they help remove tartar or calculus from their teeth, helping to reduce the risk of gum disease.
Raw bone treats also provide great mental stimulation for your dogs, as they are born to chew! Providing a raw bone to chew on will reduce the risk of your dog chewing on other things, like the corner of the sofa, or your favourite pair of shoes.
Eating raw bones is good for your dog’s anal glands and you should also notice that your dog’s stools will become firmer.
Always make sure that he or she is supervised when eating one – never feed dogs cooked bones.
Preparing Our Raw Meals
All meat and bones used in our products are minced to make sure that the meals are highly digestible and palatable for your dog.
We recommend that our products are thoroughly defrosted prior to feeding, either in the fridge overnight in a suitable sealed container, or, at room temperature for a couple of hours. Some people find it easier to decant the meat from the packaging prior to defrosting. We would not recommend the use of a microwave.
Our Freeflow minces may take up to 2 hours to defrost at room temperature but do tend to defrost quicker than the blocks due to these being a denser product.
Once defrosted do not re-freeze. Keep in a refrigerator and use within 24 hours of opening.
All our products can be fed either as they come or with fruit and vegetables of choice but some (our Complete ranges) already have these added to give a balanced meal. The addition of a grain free baked mixer is acceptable.
Good food hygiene is very important, and we always recommend that you thoroughly wash hands, feeding utensils and work surfaces following the handling or preparation of raw materials. Please note however that all our raw products are thoroughly tested to ensure they meet the stringent guidelines set out by DEFRA.
We do not recommend that you cook our products as this could affect the nutritional values as they are designed to be safely fed raw.