Dr Ian Billinghurst explains the BARF diet as published on drianbillinghurst.com/barf.
The BARF (Biologically Appropriate RAW Food) diet or BARF feeding program is about feeding dogs and cats the diet they evolved to eat over millions of years of genetic adaptation. BARF also stands for “The Bones And Raw Food”… diet. Species appropriate diet; evolutionary diet; natural diet… all mean the same thing. Because our pets’ bodies evolved eating this diet, that is exactly what we should feed them. Anything less will fall short of what their bodies require for best health, longevity and freedom from disease. And this is the basic philosophy of this way of feeding. In other words, if our pets are to reach their genetic potential in terms of health, longevity, physical activity and reproduction, their diet must match or mimic as closely as possible their evolutionary diet. The further an animal’s diet departs from its evolutionary diet, the more health problems that animal is likely to develop. Having understood this profound nutritional truth, it becomes very easy for pet owners to want to feed, and for health professionals to want to recommend, an evolutionary diet for pet animals.
Since the early 1990’s, this revolutionary feeding program for pet dogs and cats has swept Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe and North America. The seemingly miraculous improvements in health that have accompanied this epidemic of raw feeding have outstripped the expectations of even its most vocal supporters.
To produce the barf diet is very simple. You may use whatever you can find in the way of Whole, RAW, healthy foodstuffs… meat, bones, vegetables and organ meats etc. – that mimics the diet of a wild or feral animal. Many of these products may be found at your local supermarket. You can enhance the diet you produce with healthy supplements such as vitamins, essential fatty acids, probiotics, kelp, alfalfa powder, various herbs etc. Once you understand the simple evolutionary principles on which the BARF diet is based, you will find that FEEDING BARF is uniquely simple.
But please note… we are not attempting to return our pets to nature. The natural environment is dangerous. It includes lack of shelter, lack of medical and surgical intervention, the possibility of starvation and the danger of injury or death from many quarters, particularly from other animals, including those animals hunted for food. We will continue to keep our pets in an artificial environment, that includes regular bathing and grooming, training, shelter, love, regular flea and worm treatments, vaccination and medical and surgical intervention when required. The only part of the environment we wish to become more natural is the food, though of course we shan’t expect our pets to hunt for it. We shall begin to provide our pets with the type of food for which their body was designed. Food that is RAW and WHOLE and in the same form, balance and amount, as they would have received in their natural environment.
The BARF program was introduced to the world in 1993 by my first book “Give Your Dog A Bone” and further amplified by my third book… “The BARF Diet” in 2001. Please note that this basic information does not change over time, so that if you require more information, please do et hold of these books… available on this web site.
Because the BARF program of feeding is based on the diet our pets have eaten for millions of years, it is in no way a radical change for our dogs and cats. BARF is actually a return to the biologically appropriate method of feeding that was abandoned a mere 60 to 70 years ago when processed pet foods took over from more traditional methods.
That is, least disease combined with best growth, health, reproduction and longevity. BARF-fed pets tend to be free of dental problems, skin problems, ear problems, eye problems, bowel problems, kidney and heart problems, pancreas and liver problems and immune system problems. BARF-fed animals enjoy a life with an enormously reduced chance of developing both infectious and degenerative diseases. They rarely develop cancer. This healthy state continues into advanced old age.
The BARF diet allows animals to grow and develop their bodies to the peak of genetic perfection. As a general rule, any genetic fault your pet may have inherited will have minimum chance of expression when the BARF diet is fed.
BARF allows pregnant animals to rear an optimum number of offspring that become long lived; healthy, well adjusted adults. BARF fed mums can produce more healthy litters over a lifetime than kibble fed mums. BARF-fed males develop and maintain health and fertility well into their advanced old age. BARF fed working, racing or active dogs, are able to perform to the maximum of their genetic potential. Sick pets fed BARF are more likely to become well. Aged pets when switched to BARF ‘become young again.’
By feeding BARF to our stay-at-home-desexed-companion dog or cat we find they simply have BRILLIANT health. They are more likely to be happy, active, bright, alert, well adjusted family members – free of any problems – and they tend to stay that way for all their VERY LONG lives. The BARF diet is the only diet that has maximum chance of fulfilling those aims.