Before people have domesticated dogs into pets, their diets consisted mainly of raw food—bone, raw meat, and even fruits and vegetables. It is only during the time when they were first welcomed to homes that the dry dog food became the staple meal for pets. However, the raw food diet is making a comeback among pet owners in the past few years.
The BARF (Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet emphasizes a meal plan that consists of uncooked meat, bones that are either whole or crushed, vegetables, fruits, some dairy, and raw eggs. This was first introduced in 1993 by veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, indicating that this diet is how the dogs flourished before they got domesticated. He also added that commercially-made dog food poses a health risk to dogs.
To find out if this specific diet is the right one for your cocker spaniel, here are a few important information that may help you understand what the BARF diet is.
WHAT IS IN THE BARF DIET?
The BARF diet is an all-raw diet. Here are the specific food groups that are included in this meal plan:
• Raw Meat and Bones. This is made up mostly of raw meat that is eaten by the wild dog: beef, chicken, turkey, rabbit, lamb or duck. Pork is usually excluded because it can cause parasitic diseases if eaten raw. Bones are raw since they become splintered when cooked and may choke your pup.
• Raw Fish. Your cocker can benefit from fish, except if it is raw salmon. This type of fish can be carriers of flukes, leading to a parasitic infection.
• Raw Fruit and Vegetables. Potato, carrots, spinach, broccoli, and asparagus are some of the many choices for raw vegetables. For fruits, you can give your pet berries, apples or bananas. This helps expand the nutritional value of your dog’s diet.
• Eggs and dairy. These are excellent sources of calcium which strengthens their bones and muscles.
• Nuts. You can include nuts for a good dose of healthy fats, but avoid macadamia is dangerous and may be poisonous to cockers.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BARF DIET?
The BARF diet has more nutritional value. This is unlike cooked food that gets broken down and loses a lot of nutrients while cooking. It also effectively eliminates tartar buildup and keeps your pup’s teeth healthy. Bacteria and yeast buildup that occurs as a result of eating commercial food can also be prevented, reducing the characteristic doggy smell.
With a healthy, balanced diet of raw food, your Cocker’s coat can become shinier and their skin healthier.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF BARF DIET?
The benefits can also come with potential risks that you need to be aware of before sticking to the BARF diet. For one, raw meats are possible breeding grounds for bacteria and parasites. As with warnings for humans of adverse effects that come from eating undercooked meat, raw dog food can also experience such effects. You are also putting your health at risk because some of these pathogens can easily be transmitted from your mutt to you.
Also, raw bones are a choking hazard and can splinter and damage the internal organs of your cocker. Biting into whole bones can also break their teeth.
Before having your dog commit to the BARF diet, sit down with your veterinarian and discuss the pros and cons of this diet plan. You also have to be prepared with the transitionary phase, should you decide to switch from dry food to raw. Just remember, the main goal is to keep your cocker healthy and happy!