The new kid on the block – Raw diet
While our canines’ wild ancestors survived on raw meat and bones for the past 40 million years, a raw diet is an approach that has only started growing popularity in recent years. Also known as the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food (BARF) diet, this involves feeding Fido a balanced mixture of uncooked meaty bones, muscle and organ meat; raw eggs; vegetables; fruits; yoghurt; and additional supplements. “A raw diet is much closer aligned to what dogs and cats have evolved to eat,” explains Dr Bruce Syme, founder of Vets All Natural P/L. “It is easier to digest and absorb and does not suffer from thermal nutritional damaged caused by high temperatures used in the cooking process.”
Although the long term effects of home prepared raw diets have yet to be scientifically proven by institutions, anecdotal accounts have demonstrated that a raw diet can be good for the health of a domesticated canine. The benefits include improved oral health and breath; better skin and coat; leaner body mass; and good stool volume and odour. In addition, it normalises and strengthens the immune system as raw meat contains a good balance of essential fatty acids and nutrients. In addition, a BARF diet can reduce inflammatory conditions and eliminate infections.
Like other diets, feeding raw is not without its concern. “It is not a convenient option as it can be messy, bloody and requires refrigeration of bulk amounts of food,” warns Dr Bruce. “The bigger issue, of course, is when you mistakenly create deficiencies in a home made diet.” Dr Tong agrees, “Besides storage problems and the cost and time required, it is important that hygienic preparation of the food has taken place as contaminated uncooked or raw food may have pathogens in them causing gastro-intestinal upsets or toxicity.” Most importantly, thorough research should be done prior to introducing the BARF diet to your furkid to ensure that all his nutritional requirements are met.
If preparing a raw diet from scratch does sound a tad taunting, there are brands available in the market that sells commercially produced raw food. “The main advantage of these diets is that they have generally been handled properly and should be risk free, and will usually have additives that make them a total balanced formula,” shares Dr Bruce. “However, the convenience comes at a price as they will be more expensive as a rule.“
- Buy quality meat and handle them carefully to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Freezing the meat for up to two weeks can help to kill potential parasites.
- Raw meat and bones alone are not enough. Dogs do have omnivorous intake, hence, additional ingredients, such as added calcium, multi-vitamins and vegetable matter are required.