The BARF Philosophy



The philosophy behind using BARF, or the hypothesis on which it is based is that the diet a dog evolved to eat - over many millions of years of evolution - is the best way to feed it. This is the hypothesis accepted by most modern zoos or any zoologist concerned with preserving a species of endangered animal. It is not the theory endorsed by pet food companies or the people they train - and that includes unfortunately - most vets.


If you want to feed your dog BARF, it means not feeding your dog cooked and or processed food. That is, not feeding your dog a diet based on cooked grains, no matter how persuasive the advertising. Artificial grain based dog foods cause innumerable health problems. They are not what your dog was programmed to eat during its long process of evolution.


A biologically appropriate diet for a dog is one that consists of raw whole foods similar to those eaten by the dogs' wild ancestors. The food fed must contain the same balance and type of ingredients as consumed by those wild ancestors. This food will include such things as muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meat and vegetable materials and any other "foods" that will mimic what those wild ancestors ate.


Wolf - Wild ancestor of modern dogs

Please note that modern dogs of any breed are not only capable of eating the food of their wild ancestors, but actually require it for maximum health. This is because their basic physiology has changed very little with domestication despite obvious and dramatic changes in their current physical appearance and mindset.


The BARF diet, being an attempt to mimic the evolutionary diet of dogs, must, from a practical point of view, use food that is available from the local supermarket or whatever local or distant source is economically viable. BARF feeders do not have to go hunting or send their dogs out to hunt. That is why I said BARF must mimic, not duplicate the evolutionary diet of dogs. This is an important distinction.

 African Wild Dog

African Wild Dog - Note the healthy teeth from eating raw meaty bones


The BARF feeder will MIMIC as closely as possible rather than duplicate the NATURAL diet of the dog. We are not trying to return our dogs to nature. It is impossible to feed any domestic animal its natural diet, let alone allow it to live under natural conditions. There are grave dangers that go along with the natural diet and natural conditions the ancestors or wild cousins of our dogs live with. They face lack of shelter, starvation, attacks by other predators, and the potential for their prey to turn on them during the hunt. They also endure without medical intervention including surgery, vaccination, antibiotics and preventative measures against external and internal parasites. In other words, natural conditions can be deadly!


They are not what we want for our pets. What we want for our dogs is a diet and an environment that maximizes health. That means a Biologically Appropriate Diet rather than a natural diet. This is my favorite use of the term BARF - Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.


One controversial aspect of the BARF dog diet is the use of whole, raw, meaty bones as food for our dogs. I have fed my own dogs with these bones for decades, as have thousands of my clients and readers of my books. For most dogs, whole raw meaty bones do not constitute a danger. They simply and easily promote positive good health being a biologically appropriate food for our dogs. However, where there is a perceived danger, do not stop feeding bones. In these cases, simply use bones that have been finely ground.


Yours sincerely, 

Dr Ian Billinghurst




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