Home Dog Health Pros and Cons of the BARF Diet for Dogs

Pros and Cons of the BARF Diet for Dogs

BARF Diet for Dogs

Feeding your dog bones and raw food is becoming extremely popular at the moment, but does it work? Is it beneficial to our dog’s health? Many people feed their dogs bones and raw food and really do believe it makes a difference. Let’s take a closer look at what the BARF diet for dogs is and also the pros and cons of it.

People feed their dogs a raw diet because they believe that it’s the best for the dog’s health. This is based on the theory that dogs should eat a diet that aligns more closely with that of their wild canine ancestors. Of course, no wild dog eats a kibble diet, so some pet owners feel they should give their dog the fresh, raw foods that his body craves.

Is this right? Surely commercially bought dog food is better?

How do you know that the raw food diet isn’t just a fad that will pass? Could there possibly be benefits to the raw food diet? Is feeding your dog raw food dangerous? Dogs are natural carnivores, so surely a diet of bones and raw meat is as natural as you can get. Wouldn’t all dogs thrive on this type of diet?

RELATED: Best Food for Dogs 101 – Dog Food Buying Guide

As you can see there are many questions that need answering about the BARF diet for dogs. Vets have always been concerned about the raw food diet. However, is it really bad for our dogs? After all, there are many positives that come from a raw food diet.

Pros and Cons of BARF Diet for Dogs

BARF diet for dogs

What foods are in the BARF diet for dogs?

There are many different foods incorporated in the BARF diet for dogs, including:

  • Raw eggs
  • Dairy
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Organ meats
  • Bones
  • Meat that’s on the bone

As you can see there is a wide variety of foods in the BARF diet for dogs, but how can you possibly decide on whether or not to switch your pet to the BARF diet. There is just so much to consider, is it beneficial or is it dangerous? Would a commercial dog food be a better choice?

Let's do a quick breakdown of pros and cons of the raw feeding and see if this diet is best or worst for your dog.

Cons of the BARF diet for dogs

1. Impacted bone

Cons of BARF diet for dogsWhen a dog is happily gnawing away at his bone, he can end up swallowing small fragments of the bone. These fragments have the potential to gather in your dog’s intestine and will prevent him from being able to pass stools as quickly as he usually would. Your dog really could become badly constipated.

RECOMMENDED: Holistic Dog Health 101 – Ultimate Science-based Guide

These bones fragments could also block your dog’s intestine completely and this will need emergency surgery. This is one of the main reasons why vets don’t like the raw food diet.

The fragments of raw bones are said to be softer and far less dangerous than bones that are cooked. There will obviously still be fragments and these fragments will still be sharp and your dog could swallow them.

2. Fractured teeth and other oral injuries

Fractured teeth are another concern along with gum problems. A hard bone can cause serious damage to your dog’s mouth, resulting in dental treatment at the vets. Bones can even cause your dog to lose teeth altogether.

The edges of the bone are very sharp and can potentially cut your dog’s gums, and also your dog’s tongue. This will cause him a lot of distress, which could lead to a loss of appetite. The bones incorporated in the BARF diet for dogs can also end up getting stuck inside the mouth, between the teeth.

BARF diet for dogs3. Pancreatitis

Raw bones contain a great amount of fat, and this fat is ingested and can cause your dog to develop pancreatitis. This is a very serious condition and has many symptoms including vomiting and also a loss of appetite.

The vomiting can be persistent, which will be very distressing for your dog and may lead to dehydration. Your dog will need emergency treatment at the vets, which usually involves hospitalization. He will need IV fluids too.

RELATED: Are Raw Bones Good for Dogs?

4. Gastroenteritis

Canine Gastroenteritis from BARF dietBones can, and do, make their way into your dog’s stomach, and here they can cause serious issues.

Bones that end up in the stomach can cause severe irritation that could lead to ulcers. Your dog may start to vomit and will be very distressed because of it.

The acid in your dog’s stomach will eventually be able to dissolve the bone, but this will take a few days.

5. Choking

Yes, your dog could actually choke on raw bones. This will result in your dog having difficulty breathing and he may also be vomiting too. This is very distressing to see for any dog owner, and your pet will need emergency treatment to quickly remove the bone. This situation has the potential to be life threatening.

RELATED: Do You Know How to Save Your Dog If He Is Choking?

6. Vitamin deficiencies

When you purchase commercially bought dog food, you know that the balance of vitamins and minerals is spot on. When you feed the BARF diet for dogs, it can be very difficult to get the balance right. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies in dogs can lead to serious illnesses, which will need veterinary treatment.

BARF diet for dogs

Pros of the BARF diet for dogs

1. Reduces the risk of bloat

Bloat is a very serious condition and can prove to be fatal. It has been said that dog’s are far more likely to suffer from bloat if they are fed on certain kibbles. A study found that dogs were more likely to suffer with bloat if they were fed a dry food diet rather than a wet food diet.

RELATED: Interview on The Low Down on the Paleo Diet for Dogs

Canine Bloat from Raw FeedingMost dogs, thankfully don’t suffer from bloat, but deep- chested dogs are the ones that are more prone to the condition.

So too are dogs that have a history of it in their family.  By feeding the BARF diet for dogs, you are reducing the chances of your dog suffering from bloat.

2. Stools don’t smell as bad

When you feed the BARF diet for dogs, your pet's stool will be less smelly and will be a lot less in quantity too.

You have to remember that when you feed your dog raw food that contains bones, the bones don’t smell of anything and this will show in your dog’s stools.

3. Healthy teeth

Most people are concerned about their dog's teeth when they switch to the BARF diet, but others find that the BARF diet actually helps their pet’s teeth. A lot of people report that their dog’s teeth are much shinier than before they went on the BARF diet and were much healthier too.

4. Your dog will get slimmer

When you feed your dog commercially bought food there is the chance that you can end up overfeeding him. With the BARF diet however, it’s difficult to over feed your pet. Obesity is becoming a big issue with our dogs, and this is a huge plus point! In the end, it will result in your dog being much healthier and more fit.

RELATED: How to Slim Down an Overweight Dog + 30-Day Diet Plan

5. Your dog will look forward to mealtimes

If you put down a bowl full of kibbles and another bowl that’s full of meat, which one would your dog go for? Yes exactly, obviously the meat! Dogs love eating meat and will have pleasure with every meal.

6. Can reduce allergies in your dog

Kibbles do contain grains, and these have been known to produce allergies in dogs. People have noticed that when they switched their dogs over onto the BARF diet that these allergies were greatly improved or totally cured. Raw food and bones also don’t have any artificial flavors or colors, which has to be a positive.

The BARF diet for dogs, as you can see, can become quite a difficult one.

BARF diet for dogsYes there are many pros and obviously that’s a good thing. However there are plenty of cons too, and some of them are pretty bad, and could lead to your dog having emergency treatment.

Some of them also have the potential to be life threatening. Ultimately the choice is yours but remember that the BARF diet isn’t for everyone. Only you know what’s best for your dog and what he would prefer to eat. The BARF diet for dogs is very complicated and it’s a difficult decision to make.

RECOMMENDED: What’s All the Hype About Cricket Protein For Dogs?

You need to have a long conversation with your veterinarian before deciding to switch to this diet. Not only will you need guidance to ensure your dog is getting the proper nutrients, but you'll also need to be sure that the diet is appropriate for your pet. Your vet can help you make all of these decisions.

James has been a certified veterinary technician for the last 8 years in Birmingham, UK. After working with many dogs, he's changed his focus to writing, building businesses and researching subjects on canines and products created for dogs.