Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bones and Raw Foods for dogs

I've been reading about this approach to feeding dogs, also called Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (in either case, it's BARFing), because we're planning to get a dog in the spring.

Developed by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, the BARF diet under any appellation is based on feeding raw, meaty bones, animal offal, raw vegetables, and supplements instead of commercially-processed or cooked homemade diets.

I was taught growing up that you shouldn't feed chicken bones to dogs, but it seems there is a distinction between cooked and raw chicken bones. This diet advocates feeding a varied diet including raw chicken and turkey necks, chicken backs and wings.

BARF feeders eschew the convenience of 40-pound bags of kibble and opt for preparing meals for their dogs that include uncooked meaty bones, uncooked muscle and organ meat, raw eggs, vegetables, fruit, yogurt, cooked cereals, cottage cheese, and herbs, enzymes, and other supplements. They are not tied to the same diet every day – no more just measuring the kibble and pouring it in the bowl. If a good source of fresh chicken parts or lamb meat is available, the dogs get chicken or lamb. If green beans are on sale this week, cottage cheese is two-for-one at the supermarket, or the carrots are ready to be pulled in the garden, the dog’s diet (like the family diet) will likely be heavy in those ingredients.

"BARFers" don't have a very high opinion of kibble, and even refer to the switch-over period from kibble to BARFing as detox.

Ok dog-owners out there, what do you feed your dogs? Are there any "BARFers" reading this?


Gardenia said...

Oh, boy - my acquaintance with dog feeding is from my mother's many dogs. She boils hamburger and rice every night for them which goes on top of the kibble she gives them three times a day. (She used to pour bacon grease on top of that, but she quit thank goodness.)

Then she chews up meat and spits it out for them to eat for snacks. She also adds in vegetables and kibble and also cooks oatmeal in the morning and they all eat out of the same bowl, including her. At bedtime they get toast and butter - Ezekial bread (sprouted grain) at that.

So, now I will tell you the dogs usually die a painful death of cancer. All the vets say do not feed anything but dog food. I wonder about additives and origins of dog food - and imported additives from China at that. Since they have both - its hard to isolate what is killing them, i.e., causing the cancers.

The only thing about the Barfers diet that frightens me is the raw meat - e-coli, worms, etc....I just saw a Utube of a brain surgery to remove a tapeworm from the brain of a woman who ate undercooked pork.

"H" is very rigid about the cat food, so I buy a very high price kibble for them - with sardines, anchovies, blueberries, oatmeal and Omega 3's, etc...and they are glossy, shiny, and sassy! Of course they still think they need to eat what humans eat, but I limit it pretty much because of what the vets say about straight kibble diets for pets....and I have never asked the vets why they recommend what they do with forbidding "human" food.

Lastly, before dogs were treated as children, a generation ago, they seemed to thrive on left over human food, bones from the butcher at the local grocery and stuff out of the refridg not deemed fit for human consumption!

Soooooooo.....let us know what you do! I'm sure we can expect pics when the lucky dog arrives at your home!

mister anchovy said...

Just searching around on the net, I read stories about vets receiving handsome incentives to push "prescription" kibble, and that selling these products brings in a lot of revenue for them.

The raw chicken business seems a little scary to me, but it appears that it is more than a few cranks supporting the theory. I'd like to hear from some dog owners who have tried the BARF approach.

There are now companies producing packaged up and frozen raw food "patties". I guess this makes it "no fuss no muss".

What will we do? I'm not sure yet, but for sure it includes some reading to find out more.

vox said...

i am not currently a canine owner, though i do know some folks who have 5 of them along with a couple of lions. They do not do the Barf diet. They do a modified version of it in which most things like the meat and rice get cooked and there is no offal eating going on. And is it not a bit unnecessary to define the offal as coming from an animal source? Were we to believe that maybe there is some other top-secret source? Regardless, some dogs will prefer their veggies raw, others less so. In uncooked form, the dogs get the cottage cheese, fruit, yogurt, fresh herbs and for the fussy one (because she knows she can get it by holding out) a sprinkling of dried liver bits. Eggs get scrambled in a hot pan.
Now i'm no expert on the matter of consuming offal, but there just strikes me as being something a bit off about it. i can appreciate that there may well still be some nutriative value in it, but it strikes me that in a world filled with choices, do i really wanna be feeding my dog crap--call it by whatever you will? Remember, that offal also contains some nasty bacteria and even if your dog may have the ability to survive this, should he or she lick you, will you be so lucky? A-and don't you suppose that horrible things aren't also lurking in the uncooked meaty bones? As i said, i am no expert, but yeah, were i to become a dog owner again, becoming this creature's master; it is my experience that dogs do not suffer unduly by having their meat and rice cooked for them and being denied the opportunity to eat waste product.
And raw chicken and turkey backs and necks with those yummy spinal cords. It makes me think of mad cow disease and kuru, only now for dogs....i used to live on a farm that had chickens. We also had 2 dogs. One of them got the taste for chicken. His freedom got restricted....We all agree on the kibble is trash notion. At least a start.

mister anchovy said...

Thanks for your comment, VOX. One thing I can say for sure is that Tuffy P doesn't like the idea of raw chicken back goo being slimed around her house...and she pointed out that one chicken-related maggot is one maggot too many.

I see there are also products on the market like Orijen which position their products (dry dog food) as being biologically appropriate. From their website: The concept is simple: include the fresh, whole foods that nature evolved dogs and cats to eat (in correct ratio and quantity), and exclude ingredients like cereal grains that are not part of the natural diet.

High-protein, low-carbohydrate and grain-free, ORIJEN features fresh regional ingredients in a Biologically Appropriate ratio of 70 percent meat, 30 percent fruit and vegetables and zero grain (70/30/0).

The metabolism of cats and dogs is naturally evolved to operate on a largely carnivorous diet, and by better matching the natural diet, ORIJEN promotes peak health in cats and dogs of all breeds and life stages, nourishing them as Nature originally intended. ORIJEN is a new direction in pet nutrition: BIOLOGICALLY APPROPRIATE.

I'm sure there are other outfits out there producing similar products. It would be good to hear from people who use the stuff.

Anonymous said...

I feed both of my Portuguese Water Dogs a diet based on raw food. I do not feed from "scratch"; rather I buy a commercially prepared raw diet like Bravo where the product is made in a USDA facility from human grade ingredients. I did not make this switch casually. I did a lot of investigation to try and understand what was going on with kibble. Basically most kibble is made from grains (a carbohydrate) and is sprayed with protein and scented to smell like fresh meat.Carbs convert to sugar when the pet digests and this leads to many kinds of health problems (diabetes, arthritis etc). While kibble may not cause the cancer, cancer's are known to feed upon sugar in the system, so the presence of a lot of sugar is not helpful. The claims that dogs who feed on raw have more energy, shinier coats, healthier teeth, smaller less smelly stools, fewer allergy problems seem to have been born out with my dogs who have been eating a raw diet for more than 4 years. I also occasionally feed high quality kibble like Innova or Natures Variety where there is a high % of protein and little to no grain - I have become a label reader to make sure I get as much pure protein and few additives as possible. I don't know how this will allow out long term, but we have our pets with us for such a short time and they are truly important family members I'm taking my best shot at keeping them happy and healthy.
Nick Ceppi

Anonymous said...

My cat darling cat Rosie was diagnosed with cancer in November '06. The vet insisted Rosie would expire within 4- 6 months. I immediately switched her diet to raw - specifically 'Healthy Paws - Wellness through nutrition' formula for cats. Rosie surpassed the vets dire prediction by almost two years.

Anonymous said...

When I first got Bat-boy he was underweight, recovering from a surgical removal of a lump on his leg, AND super stressed after having three homes that year. My vet had me feeding him prescription Diet for his arthritic joints. One advantage was that every month when i went to pick up his food, I could ask the vet techs about problems I imagined he might have and they would give me advice. (nice when you have a dog for the first time)

One major issue was that he had chronic diarrhea (4 times a week at least) for 8 months, to the point of blood from his butt. (I would try anything to get rid of it) After getting him checked by the vet several times, I switched his diet to Orijen, with a tbs of Sasha's blend for his joints and, on a brilliant tip, started putting a tbs. of raw unsweetened pumpkin in his food dish on top of the kibble. It worked brilliantly. You wouldn't believe how one's life can revolve around a 110 lb. dog with ...problems. As well, he no longer blows out flatulence straight from the bowels of hell. (he gets carrot & brocoli snacks plus breath buisuits too)

I took him for a country weekend to C.G.'s last summer, she gave him lots of bone marrow and fresh meat. He vomitted up bones for several days and shot projectile shit for a full week. I accused C.G. of trying to murder my dog because he is so cute. She confessed. (seriously, she felt so bad)

In summation, bat-boy has the digestive system of a frail victorian heiress, and is not allowed anything that might cause problems. Outside, I know when he has something bad in his mouth because he bends his head way down to hide it from me. I have no problem unclenching his jaws and pulling food out while loudly exclaiming "I DON'T THINK SO!"

I can hardly wait until you get the doggy!!!!!! And I will demand several pictures of him on your posts every week.

mister anchovy said...

thanks everyone for weighing in on this...

don't worry LM, I'll post pictures until you're sick to death of them.

Anonymous said...

I was given a book about cat health care a few years ago that also promoted a raw diet. It just seemed like way too much work. Also way too expensive as only the freshest organic meat and poultry was recommended.

I dunno, my boys (13 & 15 years old) are pretty shiny and healthy looking with no obvious health problems, other than Sunny's mild kidney issues. They've been on various Prescription diets all their lives.

This book also suggested that cats fast one day a week, which may sound reasonable in theory but I couldn't put up with the pleading and beseeching looks I'd get.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for an obscenely wealthy woman and one of my jobs was to cook for her two miniature schnauzers. they ate Osso Bucco most days - and that's a dish I would cook for myself at home!

haven't got a dog but I feed my cat mostly good quality dried food and add a couple of raw chicken necks twice a week. supposed to stave off tooth problems

mister anchovy said...

Ha! I'd love to have someone cook Osso Bucco for me anytime!

sp said...

I thought about it once for my cats since it was highly recommended and I had come across some info when I was researching whether to vaccinate or not.

I couldn't bring myself to do it for obvious reasons and for similar reasons to Tuffy P.

The cats are on a fish diet with no chicken or beef products in their kibble and this I feel I can live with. They are eating the Orijen which I feel is a great quality food and I wouldn't feed them anything else.

Anonymous said...

I've just started a raw meat diet for my dogs. It's a bit confusing at first, but research is the key. My dogs (both at 10 pounds)are loving it. They had their first raw chicken wing (under my close eye) yesterday and did just fine. I'm still working out the ratios per week for when they are completely on all meat (still finishing off the kibble). They are doing fine and I have an audience each time I prepare it for them. Their tails wag while they eat. They are really enjoying this. Needless to say, the kibble is hardly touched so they may be on all meat before the kibble is gone. I'm letting them tell me I guess you could say. Commercial food scares me. Too many pets have died and they really can't tolerate it well. As for any kind of grain, it's a big no no. They don't need it. No corn, rice, barley or wheat. I'm not doing it, but if you like it for your pet that's your choice. Only been at this a week but I'm seeing positive changes. Good luck!