If you ever research your dog’s diet on Google, you’re likely to come across the phrase “BARF dog food”. BARF – short for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food” – is a term that raw food vendors and advocates use with abandon. At a glance, BARF sounds like it’s the only way to please your pup’s lupine ancestors. However, you may have also wondered what BARF actually does for your dog, and how it differs from other diets. We promote raw food for dogs at Mad Paws, so the BARF concept caught our attention early on. Now, we’ve decided to share our findings with you, so that you can make an informed decision about your doggo’s dietary needs.
“Firstly, what IS BARF dog food?”
From some of the spiels you’ll find online, BARF dog food sounds like something from a Joe Rogan podcast. People use phrases like “unleash your dog’s inner wolf” or “it’s like Paleo for puppies”. In truth, the story behind BARF is much simpler: it’s basically a term to refer to raw meat, bones, fruit, and vegetables. Because it aligns with what wolves ate before they evolved into the dogs, it sprouted the prefix “biologically appropriate”. For raw lovers who engage in the raw food vs kibble debate, the phrase “BARF” gives credence to their claim. Seems straightforward enough, right?
“Right. So what’s the problem with BARF dog food?”
When it comes to the content of BARF meals, there’s no problem whatsoever. As we’ve said before, raw food provides our dogs with an array of benefits as part of a balanced diet. Rather, the problem with the BARF concept stems from the way in which some people use it.
Because the term was created by a vet in the 1990s, some brands deploy BARF to build credibility around their products. While this isn’t always a problem, it can become one when companies use this clout to avoid listing nutritional info. Often, brands will imply that, since a vet coined the term, any product with “BARF” attached to it must be balanced and complete. As a result, well-meaning Pet Owners may purchase a BARF meal believing it gives their dog everything they need. In reality, though, many BARF meals may not offer enough on their own to sustain our furbabies.
“Does this mean that I should avoid all BARF products?”
Not at all. However, do be mindful that a food source isn’t perfect just because it’s raw. For instance, while dogs love the taste and texture of raw meat, a 100% meat diet will leave your dog wanting for nutrients. Should you decide to trial a BARF dog food product, check the nutritional info first. And if it isn’t balanced and complete, supplement their raw food with premium kibble. That way, your dog will enjoy a meal they love with the nutrients they need.