When I started practicing veterinary medicine 30 years ago, the pets exhibiting the most health problems were pure breeds. Now we’re seeing all dogs and cats, including mixed breeds, increasingly plagued with degenerative diseases like Arthritis, Diabetes, Cancer and many other serious and often fatal ailments. While Americans are spending billions of dollars on their pets’ health each year, the overall condition of the American pet has plummeted.
The reasons for this decline in health include environmental pollutants, overvaccinations and an unnaturally high grain diet. While pet owners are limited in their efforts to address pollution, we can control our pets’ vaccination and diet regimen.
A proper diet is particularly vital to maintaining your pet’s optimal health. However, the common commercial foods that Americans have come to rely upon to do so fall far short of their pets’ needs. These foods were developed shortly after the Great Depression as the cheapest (not the best) way to feed your pets and keep weight on them. They are primarily based on grain and starch, which cause a chronic elevation of blood glucose which eventually causes numerous diseases involving excessive inflammation.
Additionally, many of these processed foods, even those available at your local veterinarian’s office, are full of chemicals and poor ingredients (by-products). Their high sugar and salt contents make the food more palatable to our pets but do nothing for their nutritional needs.
In my experience, I have found that the best way to avoid degenerative diseases and other conditions is by following the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet (B.A.R.F.). The BARF diet is about feeding dogs and cats the diet they evolved to eat over millions of years of genetic adaptation: meat, bones, whole eggs, crushed vegetables with a low glycemic index and organ meats from an organic source. It consists of no or minimal carbohydrates. This diet is EVOLUTIONARY, not revolutionary. Our pets’ basic physiology cannot be changed by only a few decades of eating processed food.
Often, my clients have reservations about starting their pets on the BARF diet. Many of these concerns are based upon the more conventional veterinary establishment’s insistence on processed food, but there are other fears.
One of their fears focuses on whole bones and the concern that these bones will produce a blockage or damage to the gastrointestinal tract. Dogs and cats are carnivores, and being so, have a digestive system designed by evolution to digest raw bones with great efficiency thanks to the high acid content of their stomachs. Dogs and cats who are used to kibble and cans may need a little added help to get their GI tract back to optimal efficiency, but this help is available in the form of good quality digestive enzymes such as Florazyme or Prozyme.
Choking on any food, including bones, is a valid concern and does happen on rare occasions. If you have a dog that wolfs down his food, we recommend that you crush the bones in the beginning, or serve bigger bones.
Another fear is based on the presence of bacteria in raw food, but remember, animals are already exposed to a great amount of bacteria without ill effects by licking themselves or by eating the feces of other dogs, cats or deer.
Finally, the biggest fear for pet owners in adopting the BARF diet for their pets is the fear that they will not achieve a complete and nutritionally balanced diet. But, believe me, there is no such diet! Nobody knows the absolute nutritional requirements for any species of animals on this earth and probably never will. Our objective, therefore, has got to be balance over time. By feeding a variety of whole nutritious raw food, you will achieve nutritional adequacy over a series of meals. The supplements needed are minimal on the BARF diet and won’t be needed every day.
Obviously, the BARF diet far surpasses a diet of processed foods. However, additional research is advised. Consult with a veterinarian, such as me or Dr. Mock, who is familiar with the BARF diet before making any dietary changes for your pet. But remember, the BARF diet is very simple once you understand the basic evolutionary principles. This is a condensed version. To read the complete article visit the Veterinary Holistic Care website at www.vhcdoc.com.
Compliments of Dr. Monique Maniet at Veterinary Holistic Care 301-656-2882