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What is BARF?
No, we aren’t referring to the word that describes vomiting. Also known as Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, ‘BARF’ represents food that is suited to our pets’ anatomical capabilities as they have inherited from their ancestors. This includes having the same amount, freshness, variety of meat and nutrients that our pet’s ancestors would encounter in the wild.
Colloquially, BARF could also stand for ‘Bones and Raw Food’ to highlight how this diet is focused on feeding pets the diet they were evolved to eat including meat and vegetables that are fresh and uncooked. The meats in this diet are sourced from animal meats instead of plant-based ingredients that have lower digestibility and nutrition.
A BARF diet typically includes various types of meat (e.g. muscle meat, raw meaty bones, organ meat etc.) along with vegetables, fruits and seeds as well as supplements that are rare or not present. However, it is crucial to ensure that their diet is balanced as opposed to overloading your pet with meat to prevent any future health problems.
Some owners might feel uncomfortable feeding raw food to our pets, after all they are family – but it is important to note that we cannot feed pets the same way we feed human beings as we are biologically different with different anatomical capabilities. A BARF diet can still be fed gently cooked if raw feeding is just deemed too risky by the owner.
A BARF diet can in fact provide numerous health benefits to your pet such as developing a leaner, more muscular build and developing a more vibrant, calm energy given that it is high in protein, moderate in fat and has little carbohydrates. For the carbohydrates that are present, they are typically lower in glycaemic index which is easier for our pets’ digestive tract to break down.
What is PMR?
When we think of feeding our pets meat, we usually think of canned food or treats that have some form of meat in it. What if you were to feed your pet an entire animal instead just as they would if they hunted in the wild? That is something called a Prey Model Raw diet, also known as a PMR diet. This is based on the rough proportion of different organs versus bone versus muscle meat that would mimic a prey animal eaten by wolves or wild cats.
Of course, in modern day society, getting a whole animal is not something you can easily obtain at a local supermarket. Instead, a PMR diet today would just simply consist of 80% muscle, 10% bone content, 5% liver and 5% other secreting organs.
This diet aims to replicate how an animal in the wild consumes, as close as possible – that is, a whole prey. The main draw of a PMR diet is so that you can ensure that little to no processed ingredients are fed to your pet as processed ingredients are often found in commercial pet food. The idea is to mimic the way dogs would feed in the wild – think about it, dogs of the past were definitely not munching on pellets. It is important to note that this diet is 100% based on animal products and does not include fruit, dairy, or vegetables. It is also not based on nutrient recommendations and centers around the type of meat given only.
Is BARF or PMR better for my pet?
As described, both diets have their respective benefits. However, given that the PMR diet is primarily a meat-based one and does not factor in nutrient recommendations, this also means that it is at highest risk of being unbalanced. It generally does not involve vegetables, fruit, or any added vitamin or minerals which will not serve your dog well given that it is missing key nutrients such as Zinc, Vitamin D3 and E.
In comparison, BARF diets are generally more holistic and take into account different nutritional requirements of your pet. Along with a leaner build, your pet will also be able to have cleaner teeth, fresher breath and overall have less odour. With a balanced raw diet, our pets will have smaller stools as most of the nutrients will be absorbed by the body. However, owners should take caution to ensure that the raw food they serve is not contaminated as with all raw meat – it is important to make sure raw foods given are developed by sources vetted by veterinary or animal nutritionists, and where the manufacturer practices strict quality control measures to reduce contamination risks. It is also usually a good sign if the manufacturer conducts and publishes research in peer-reviewed journals and recommendations as well.
Ultimately, whether you decide on a BARF, PMR or other diet for your pet, it is important to understand the needs of your pet and consult your vet or pet nutritionist for more tailored advice.
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