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The BARF diet? Sounds gross, doesn't it? It's not what you think (yes, it's not the “vomit diet”). It's an acronym for Bones and Raw Food diet or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet which has taken the pet world by storm. I recently made the switch for my dog (in September 2009) because he was getting unexplainable ring worm yearly (which was a pain in the butt to deal with, believe me!). Many pet parents have been making the switch from commercially prepared dog food (read: kibble) to raw food. So, how does the BARF diet work? The premise of the Bones and Raw Food diet is that your pet dog or cat has a shorter intestinal tract than us humans, and thus they are not meant to digest grains (such as rice and corn).
The main ingredient in dry dog food is corn meal. This can be a source of allergy for many pets. Grains are blamed in recent veterinary research to be the cause of a lot of disease in pets such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer to name a few that weren't present in dogs BEFORE dry dog food was introduced.
The reason I made the switch was because my dog was so allergic to I-don't-know-what and I wanted to stop that in its tracks. I was also tired of having to vacuum like crazy and quarantine the poor bugger every summer when he had ringworm.
Some may feel that the BARF diet is $$$. It CAN be, but there are ways to make it somewhat easier on your wallet. Certainly, it is much cheaper if you have a small dog!
There may be stores in your city that specifically cater to raw dog food pet owners. They have already packaged meat (any meat you can think of, be it elk, rabbit, ostrich, chicken, turkey, bison, buffalo) that sometimes are pre-mixed with vegetables. All you need to do is chop it up into the portions that your pet needs. This is the convenient and easy way, though it can be pricier… ESPECIALLY if you have a big dog.
The key to save money on the BARF diet is, like everything else, practically is:
To do it yourself.
It's actually really easy. All you need is a local butcher, a food processor, plastic ziplocks, and some freezer space. The start up costs can be pricey if you don't have a food processor.
- Make sure there's lots of room in your freezer. If not, you might have to buy a freezer (check out craigslist to see if anyone is selling one)
- Get to know your local butcher
- Ask your butcher for some dog food (he or she will automatically select organ parts and intestines-10-15% of intake- and other parts of the “prey” and grind it all up) in the meat that you want (lamb, beef-cheapest though lots of dogs have allergies to beef, buffalo, chicken, turkey etc.)
- Scrounge around your fridge for leftover veggies (making 15-25% of the diet) Good veggies and fruits are: green leafy vegetables, beet, spinach, celery, cabbage family, capsicum, root and/or fruits such as tomato, apple, oranges, pears, mangoes and banana…NO onions!
- Blenderize everything in the food processor
- Shove the blended food into plastic bags, weigh the amounts and freeze
- The night before, set out one pre-cut package in a container and put it in the fridge
- For breakfast, take contents of container, sprinkle some dog multivitamin and squirt a pump of omega oil (salmon oil works well- you can buy it in pump form at the raw dog food stores). Take another package out and put in in a container for supper
- Repeat steps 7-8 until you almost run out of dog food and start from step 3.
Your pet will not have a “doggy smell” anymore, the poop will be less stinky AND much smaller, AND your dog will poop less, have better breath, and be happier. Making the switch will need to be gradual, you can get started with one of those Raw Dog food stores (good for info and guidance), and once you feel confident, you can branch off, save money, and do it yourself.
The raw diet works for cats too. I have a friend who's cat, Mitsy, was recently diagnosed with diabetes (the cat was only five years old for goodness sake) and needed twice a day insulin shots. She decided to try raw food for her cat, Mitsy. After three weeks, Mitsy's blood sugars were normal. She didn't have diabetes anymore.
Here are some good resources to help you get started if you're interested:
Pet owners, do you feed raw? Any other tips on how to save money on the BARF diet? Any stories about the BARF diet to share?
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