Raw feeding- all about BARF and why you should be feeding it!

There’s no question that Raw feeding is growing in popularity. We examine some of the great reasons to start your dog on a raw diet now!

What is raw feeding?       

Fad terms and fashions come and go in the pet industry, and there’s no denying the current “buzz” around the raw diet. BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones And Raw Food) takes inspiration from nature by mimicking, as closely as possible, what a dog would eat in the wild. That means no to processed kibble and wet foods, and yes to raw meat, bones, and offal.

Raw foods can be bought readily mixed and complete, or in its purest form should you wish to whip up your own concoction at home. A standard raw diet consists of 80% meat with bone, 10% offal’, and 10% fruits, vegetables, and botanicals. Some owners prefer to avoid any non-meat products, but in the domestic environment they can be highly beneficial to overall wellbeing and for naturally healing any present ailments.

What are the benefits of feeding raw?

Aside from being hypoallergenic and completely natural, your dog will love it! A dogs body has a natural craving for moisture rich food, and that which they know is good for them. With all the processing removed, raw food is perfect for dogs with skin or digestion sensitivities. A wide range of meats are available so it is never a problem to cater to meat intolerance’s and allergies, with many grain free, chicken free, and novel (including exotic) meat varieties to choose from.

You may also find an improvement to coat, skin, and eye condition, as the body is functioning a lot more effectively without having to work hard to digest the vitamins and minerals in their food. If toilet trouble is an ongoing issue with your pooch, the raw diet will give you less stools, and the will be a lot smaller and firmer (easy enough to pick up with your bare hands- not that you’d want to!)

In a 2016 veterinary study it was found that 76% of dogs had suffered with dental disease. On a raw diet your days of worrying about teeth are over! Raw food is very high in moisture so does not stick to the teeth as a standard kibble (sprayed with sweet flavour enhancers)  does. It’s also low in carbohydrate and sugars which lessen the risk of the oral bacteria associated with dental problems. Raw bones and chews – or what we like to call “Natures Dentastix” – provide that abrasive action to scrape off an plaque on the teeth, while keeping your dog happy and busy at the same time. Try duck wings for small dogs and puppies, or a nice chunky marrowbone for those bigger than 15kg.

Many people have noticed a change in behaviour on the BARF diet too, with the dog being much more satisfied and susceptible to training. Hopefully a healthier and happier dog will mean less vet visits too, keeping your stress levels and and bank statements to a minimum!

Myths and Misconceptions

“Will my dog be at higher risk of salmonella?”

The simple answer is no. Your dogs body is built for raw food. Their jaws and teeth are designed for tearing meat and crunching up bone. Their saliva has antibacterial properties and their stomach is stronger than ours ( 1-2 pH level vs ours at 1.3-3pH). Your dogs digestive tract is also a lot shorter than yours, meaning they are well equiped to quickly digest animal matter compared to fibre. At Browns we like to encourage good hygiene practices too: use separate cutlery, a stainless steel or non porous bowl, never re-freeze raw foods once defrosted.

“Aren’t bones dangerous for dogs and will they splinter?”

Raw bones are more moisture rich than anything cooked and therefore will not splinter. At Browns we always say to follow the three “S” rules:

Supervise– never leave your dog unattended with bones or chews

Size– always select a chew that is bigger than your dogs head, or hold on to one end until they are experienced with chewing- try wings or ribs as a starting point. To find out which chew is most suitable for your dogs age and size, pop in and see us at Ferring or Goring and one of our consultants can advise you.

Separate– you know your dogs better than anyone, but as a general rule dogs should be separated when you are feeding a high value chew to avoid any tiffs.

“Won’t my dog be hyper on a high protein diet?” 

Definitely not! With protein it’s quality over quantity. All the raw foods we stock at Browns are sustainably and ethically sourced meats from the UK or Europe, not mass produced “meat by-products”, “meat meals”, or “meat derivatives” with no traceability (unlike many lower grade dry kibbles and wet foods.)  If anything, a more satisfied and healthy dog will be much calmer and happier.

“Isn’t is expensive?”

Our raw foods start from .85p per day to feed, based on a 15kg dog. Over the month that amounts to around £25 in total. Not at all bad when you think a takeaway coffee can cost £3, and your dog will definitely thank you for it!

At Browns we think our raw food selection can cater to any dog. We currently stock ten thoughtfully sourced brands, from the ever popular Nutriment to the new local brand Jack Wolf. Whether you are interested in the ethical, environmental, or health standpoint of feeding a raw diet, all of our staff are fully trained and able to answer any concerns you may have. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and our consultants love a challenge!