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Feeding Your Pet Raw

By definition, raw feeding is the common practice of feeding domestic dogs and cats a diet consisting mainly, if not wholly, of raw meats, bones and organs. The practice is also often referred to as the BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food), or the raw diet. Proponents of this practice believe that the raw diet contains a higher nutritional value to the commercially processed pet food sold in stores. It is also believed that dogs and cats are not able to properly digest grain and therefore, it is believed, feeding many commercial pet foods that containing grains can lead to several of the known degenerative diseases. It is widely believed by proponents of the raw diet that feeding heat-processed, human engineered foods and forcing dogs and cats to eat in a way that goes against their physiology in general leads to many ailments and lower energy levels.

Dr. Ian Billinghurst, owner of the trademarked BARF Diet (mentioned above), argues in his book that the dog, although now domesticated, is a descendant of the wild animal and was programmed to eat a raw carnivorous diet. Arguments have also been made that modern zoos have adapted to feeding raw meats, and even entire carcasses to their carnivorous captive animals. And, while this practice has been widespread throughout Europe, it remains somewhat a controversial topic in North America. Some opponents argue that there is a social impact to feeding raw meat, creating a more aggressive animal. There are also concerns about food contamination and dental impactions. However, some of the benefits of the raw diet include better oral health, higher energy levels and better overall health.

There are several different types of raw diets. One method, the BARF method as mentioned above, consists of approximately 60% to 80% raw meaty bones and the other 20% to 40% consists of fruit and vegetables, offal, dairy, eggs, or other meats. Another model, the Prey model, is made to follow an animal of prey’s diet more closely. Actual entire prey animals are fed as much as possible and there are almost no supplements added to the diet.

Although there are still controversies surrounding the raw diet versus commercial kibble debate, more and more studies are being done on the subject. One problem surrounding the raw diet, however, is how to better monitor the nutritional content of the varying diets. While one person may be offering his or her pet a diet consisting of high quality meats in a variety of formats, thereby offering the needed vitamins and minerals for a healthy lifestyle, another household may be simply offering whatever scraps from the butcher they were able to grab. This second instance may not provide the necessary balanced diet in order for the pet to thrive.

So, if you are thinking of going raw for your pet, make sure that you do the proper research and provide a wholesome, balanced diet from a reputable raw dog food supplier.

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