Are You Willing To Feed Your Dog B.A.R.F.?
Many pet breeders, pet food retailers and some veterinarians advocate the feeding of raw food diets (B.A.R.F. – Bones And RawFood). We at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital believe that the feeding of raw meat and bones to domestic animals is a dangerous practice, both for our pets and their families. There is no proven nutritional advantage to feeding a raw food diet but there are several disadvantages. The top three being:
1. Unbalanced nutrition – most raw food diets are too high in mineral content due to the large amount of bones that the diets include.
2. Bones as potential gastrointestinal obstructions – the most common stomach or intestinal foreign body in dogs is bones. Many require surgical or endoscopic removal.
3. E. coli or Salmonella poisoning – these two fecal bacteria are very common in raw food diets, most of which are chicken based. Several recent studies show a significant increase in these enteric pathogens in raw foods over high quality commercial diets.
Many advocates of raw food diets blame commercial pet foods for the increase in certain diseases in dogs and cats – cancer, allergies, immune diseases. What they fail to consider is the fact that the average life span of dogs and cats has almost doubled in the last 40-50 years, largely in part due to the superior nutrition that is available. Due to this increased life span, we are diagnosing more pets with these various diseases as they start to near their genetic potential for longevity. Your interpretation of these statistics depends on whether you see the glass (or pet food bowl) as half-empty or half-full. Many advocates of raw food diets use wild dogs such as wolves and coyotes as their standard to which to compare our domestic canine companions. It is true that wolves and coyotes eat raw food, no one can dispute that. It is also true that the average life span of wild canids is virtually half of the average domestic dog. We just do not see the wild dogs that die from gastrointestinal infections, gastrointestinal foreign bodies, tooth root abscesses caused by broken teeth, or simply malnutrition. If feeding a non-commercial pet food is important to you, please consult with us and we will help you devise a safe and nutritious home-made alternative.