Somewhere between 37 and 47 percent of households across the country have dogs, so pet health is a high priority for many Americans. Pet owners are inundated with dog food advertisements claiming one brand or another offers the healthiest pet nutrition. In lieu of commercially-made dog foods, many dog owners are opting for the Bones and Raw Food Diet (sometimes referred to as BARF), which is essentially what dogs ate before they became domesticated. The BARF diet offers a number of health benefits over commercial dog foods.
Improved Dental Health
A large number of dogs over the age of three suffer from periodontal disease. Kibble and canned dog foods contribute to poor dental health in dogs, but raw meaty bones do not. Chewing through meat and soft bone massages canine gums and scrapes plaque off a dog's teeth.
Many commercial dog foods are packed with grains. Because dogs do not produce the digestive enzyme needed to digest grain (amylase), they have trouble digesting foods that contain grains. Commercially-made dry dog foods also absorb water, which means dogs that eat it can become dehydrated. Chronic dehydration can lead to crystals and kidney disease.
Many dogs that eat commercial foods filled with grains, fillers, dyes and preservatives develop allergies. Animals that suffer from allergies have itchy skin and a smelly, greasy coat. A diet of raw foods and bones helps reduce allergies in dogs and produces a beautiful, shiny coat.
To the delight of some pet owners, a raw diet changes the size, consistency and odor of a dog's stool. Because dogs digest raw foods more easily, those fed the BARF diet defecate less often and poop is smaller, firmer and much less smelly.
Many dog owners concerned about pet health are turning to the BARF diet as an alternative to dry kibble and canned dog foods. Options for dog owners wanting to try the BARF diet include commercially-made products located in a refrigerated section of the pet grocery aisle, or homemade BARF diets. Some healthy foods for a homemade diet include:
- Raw bones
- Offal (liver, kidneys, heart, tripe)
- Whole eggs
- Vegetables (broccoli, spinach, celery, carrots)
- Fruit (apples, pears, grapefruit, oranges)
- Cod liver oil