very small segment of pet owners have accepted the opinions of
a vocal fringe minority of individuals who are currently proponents
of feeding raw foods. The diet is commonly called the BARF diet,
(Bones And Raw Food). Individuals within this group often make
unsubstantiated claims that sound plausible but are typically
unsupported in fact. The barf diet is extolled based primarily
upon several myths claimed to justify the feeding of this diet.
1 - Claimed similarities between modern wild canids and the domestic
dog, and thus modern domestic dogs therefore have identical genetic
development and nutritional needs as wild canids.
2 - Claims of increased disease levels and shortened life spans
in pet dogs versus claimed lack of disease and increased life
spans in wild ancestral canids like wolves and coyotes.
3 - Claimed reduced levels of parasites.
4 - Claimed reduced levels of food intolerance, adverse reactions
to foods, and or "allergies".
5 - Claims that feeding "raw meaty bones" are good for
6 - Claimed increased value of uncooked foods versus cooked foods
and subsequent loss of trace micro-nutrients by the cooking process.
discussion of BARF in the US is based to a large degree on myths
promoted by superficial and hyperbolic promoters of one product
or another, or those selling the latest version of video tapes,
books, supplements, foods and other materials. Barfers' typically
denigrate any information that is derived from solid scientific
studies as having been "tainted" by some supposed conspiracy
of involvement between commercial pet food companies, veterinary
teaching universities, the FDA, USDA, CDC, WHO, and any other
evidence knowledge based organization. At the same time Barfers
accept at face value opinions promoted by purveyors of Barf products
and scaremongering media. No level of competence or proof is demanded
of those who state facts in favor of Barf feeding; while multiple,
peer reviewed published university research studies are often
denigrated by Barfers'.
paper seeks to examine some of these myths. As a confirmed Barfer
once noted, the decision to feed BARF is an emotional one, not
a science based decision. As we shall see, making decisions based
on emotions can lead one astray.
Divergence - Myth 1
million years ago in what is now the Great Plains of North America
two archetypes of early canid ancestors competed. Epicyon was
a larger powerful carnivorous animal the size of a modern wolf.
It's primary prey were large ancestors of today's modern deer
and elk. Another early canid named Eucyon shared time and space
with Epicyon. Eucyon was about the size of a modern fox and concentrated
its efforts on much smaller prey, scavenging any edible nutrient.
The larger Epicyon followed its very large prey into extinction.
Adaptable Eucyon, with teeth suited for eating both meat and plants
survived. Eucyon migrated into the Old World and eventually evolved
into modern wolves. About 800,000 years ago wolves migrated back
across the Arctic to North America.1, 8
Wayne PhD, geneticist at the University of California at Los Angeles
examined DNA in dogs and wolves. Wayne's recent genetic work suggests
dog ancestors of some sort broke away from wolves about 100,000
years ago. Wayne's work included 147 dogs representing 67 breeds
and 162 wild canids of all species from around the world. Wolf
and human remains have been discovered in early fossils from over
400,000 years ago, but dog and human fossils date back only 14,000
years. Prior to this study, domestic dogs were thought to have
originated only 14,000 years ago. In this new study, Wayne and
his associates studied patterns in the mitochondrial DNA from
dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals. This type of maternally passed
DNA changes at a specific rate. Wayne's study showed so many DNA
changes that dogs must have diverged genetically from wolves about
100,000 years ago.
expected to find DNA sequences in dogs that were closely related
to those in wolves, perhaps even indistinguishable from those
in wolves," Wayne said. "We expected to find a few different
sequences in dogs; instead, we found 26." Wayne found no
evidence to support dogs evolved from jackals or coyotes.
researchers found four distinct genetic groups in the dog world.
This suggests that dog ancestors domesticated several times within
the +100,000 year window, or at different places, and that no
single wolf ancestor is common to all dogs.3, 5, 28. In a similar
study conducted by Vila and Maldonado at the Department of Evolutionary
Biology, Uppsala University in Sweden, maternal DNA showed a separation
of 135,000 years between modern domestic dogs and wolves. 33
fox, and jackal DNA differ greatly from that of modern dog. This
separates modern coyotes, jackals and foxes from modern domestic
dogs by more than 400,000 years of evolutionary history. Any comparison
to this group of wild canids with domestic dogs is without merit,
leaving the wolf as the only closely related wild canid .3, 5
It is also interesting to note that DNA hybridization shows that
the canine family diverged about 50 million years ago from other
members of the carnivora family.33 The carnivora genus also includes
purely herbivorous animals like the Giant Panda Bear (Ailuropoda
a suggested symbiotic relationship, domestic dog predecessors
must have gathered around the campfires of early man to scavenge
from the left over trash. Individual animals that were less threatening,
or provided value to man by aiding in the hunt would have survived
better than those which were threatening or provided no value.
As a consequence of natural selection those animals which survived
also passed on a specific pool of genetic material. The genetics
passed on were influenced by the ability of the animal to inculcate
itself into human life. Less and less threatening animals, more
and more helpful animals, and animals better suited to survive
on scavenged human trash would be the winners in the DNA lottery.
Over a period of 100,000 years of cohabitation the separation
of genetic material continued toward the present day and created
animals with friendly dispositions, various sizes, shapes, coats
and markings and distinctly different primary food resources.
and mutation of the actual genetics of the wild canid ancestor
were required to begin the process of domestication. The idea
of "taming" a wild animal and then proceeding from there
is neither factual nor plausible. Some genetic mutation was required.
Coppinger and Coppinger stated in their book Dogs "A basic
change, a genetic change has occurred." If not, then today's
wild wolf puppies tamed from birth would be capable of domestication.
of BARF claim that domestic dogs and wild canids are alike in
their nutritional needs. Such claims are without foundation in
scientific fact and exist only as opinions. Barfers' would have
you believe that while the domestic dog developed eating anything
and everything man threw away over the last 100,000 years, no
variation in nutrient needs or digestive abilities developed.
The vast and incredible array of externally visible differences
between 4 pound Chihuahua's and 150 pound Great Danes occurred
in less than 14,000 years. The separation between wolf and domestic
dog occurred 100,000 years ago, and yet Barfers choose to believe
no internal changes occurred between the domestic dog and the
wild wolf. Such an assumption is patently false.
of many good examples of internal changes that natural selection
wrought is a significant difference in the eye of modern wolves
and modern domestic dogs. The topographical distribution of retinal
ganglion cells in seven breeds of dog (Canis lupus f. familiaris)
and in the wolf (Canis lupus) was studied. A prominent feature
of wolf retinae was a pronounced "visual streak" of
high ganglion cell density. By contrast, a moderate visual streak
was found in dog retinae. The estimated total number of ganglion
cells averaged about 200,000 cells in the wolf and 115,000 in
the dog.10 Evolutionary natural selection reduced the domestic
dogs eyesight to almost half that of the wolf. Yet Barfers' would
have you believe there are neither biological nor physiological
differences between the two.
evidence of evolutionary changes in the dog compared to the wolf
abounds in the literature. In a study of 2,959 dogs across 40
different breeds Genetic mtDNA variations in domestic dogs show
a much higher level of heterozygosity when compared to wolves.33
Differences in musculature, tendon strength, gut wall arterials
and many other distinct differences in the internal organs and
abilities are described.11, 16
Barfer emotional decisions to compare the feeding habits of wild
canids to domestic dogs is without scientific foundation and places
the domestic dog at risk.
the needs of the current wolf to domestic dogs is not based in
fact and certainly not based on 100,000 of years of natural selection
and mutation inexorably forcing genetic change. No creature stands
still in evolutionary time. The ancestors of today's domestic
dog excelled at living on human trash that contained both raw
and cooked meats, vegetables and grains. Those that survived were
naturally selected. Those individuals that did not survive and
excel were unable to pass on their genetic code. Since the modern
wolf was not exposed to 100,000 years of eating human trash the
development of its' nutritional needs was not altered in the same
manner. To expect these two different species to have the same
nutritional needs is simply not substantiated in history, science
and "immunity" - Myth 2
frequently infer that domestic dogs are plagued with disease and
live miserable lives when fed a commercial food. They compare
wild canids like wolves, coyotes, jackals and others to domestic
dogs and decry what they believe is a much increased level of
disease in domestic animals. The majority of such purported increased
disease they attribute to domestic animals eating a prepared food
and not eating a BARF diet.
domestic dog's lifespan has increased monumentally over just the
past fifty years. Primarily due to better veterinary care, vaccines
and nutrition, all of which come under attack by Barf proponents.
Barfers' would suggest that we should imitate the food intake
of wild wolves and other canids. As we have already seen, the
coyote, jackal and fox have nothing genetically or evolutionarily
in common with today's domestic dog. The wolf on the other hand
separated from the domestic dogs 100,000 years ago and is a distant
ancestor. The disconnect in Barfers' logic becomes apparent when
you examine the average lifespan of today's wolf.
Grey Wolf lifespan 8 years in the wild, slightly more in captivity
when fed commercial foods.
Mexican Wolf lifespan 15 years in captivity, less in wild.
Red Wolf lifespan 4 years in the wild up to 14 in captivity (fed
a multitude of factors influence lifespan. Breed size of domestic
dogs is a very significant factor. Smaller breeds typically live
longer among both domestic dogs and their wild cousins. While
wolves have an average life span in the wild of 4-8 years the
smaller coyote is claimed to have a lifespan of as much as 15
years in the wild.
is interesting to note that feeding commercial pet foods to wild
canids is the recommendation of the American Zoo and Aquarium,
Nutritional Advisory Group. This same group also suggests raw
meat in "carnivore logs" should only be used for the
purposes of administering medication like wormers, enticing animals
to move through cages or doorways, and getting the wild canid
accustomed to eating commercial diets.35 While the Barfers are
busy claiming domestic dogs should mirror the feeding habits of
wild wolves, the very people who know the most about caring for
wild canids recommend the feeding of a "commercial pet food"
to wild canids. One of the reasons wild canids survive longer
in captivity is that they are being fed a commercial diet instead
of the BARF diet they would have eaten in the wild.
important to recognize that as more common causes of death are
reduced, other forms of death must necessarily increase. We have
reduced the number of traumatic deaths (i.e. hit by car) by enforcement
of leash laws and fencing laws around the US. Death by trauma
is still the single biggest cause of death among domestic dogs,
but it has been radically reduced over the past 20 years. Common
diseases like distemper, parvovirus, and others are responsible
for fewer deaths each year as a larger and larger population of
immune animals exists to slow the transmission of these diseases
by reducing the pool of possible victims. As our domestic pets
live longer and longer lives they are necessarily more likely
to suffer from cancer, heart disease and other predominantly geriatric
dog life spans have been rapidly increasing over the past half
century. Dogs living much beyond previous ordinary life spans
for any given breed are now common. 25 year old Yorkies, 25 year
old cats, and 15 year old Rottweilers are no longer astounding
and amazing rarities.
is also mounting of other issues relative to BARF feeding. Renal
failure is the 3rd most common cause of disease death in dogs
and the 2nd most common in cats. In a large study conducted by
Dr. Joe Bartges, Dr. Jean Dodds and Dr. Susan Wynn, they looked
at blood work from over 200 BARF dogs, and compared it to 75 dogs
eating 'normal' diets and used by the lab for reference values.
Mean BUN (blood urea nitrogen) was indeed significantly higher
in dogs eating the BARF diet. Increased BUN is one of the most
critical values examined when looking for renal failure. While
it is incorrect to state that increased BUN might cause renal
failure, it certainly is a significant warning of impending danger
in older geriatric dogs with undetected renal failure.
and BARF - Myth 3
common comment from the Barfer world details supposed increased
"immunity" and freedom from parasites and disease. The
literature provides proof of that fallacy as well. In regards
to parasites; the wild wolf that eats only a BARF diet is also
equally susceptible to internal and external parasites and other
canine diseases. Wild wolf scat illustrates significant exposure
and infection with various forms of internal parasites. The literature
describes cases of tick born disease, parvovirus, rabies, and
cancer among species of wild canids throughout the world. Large
wolf populations have been decimated by disease, even when the
food source was plentiful. 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22,
23, 24, 25, 26, 27. Eating a raw diet as prescribed by Barfers'
didn't help to prevent any of these common illnesses, infections,
and diseases. Neither is there any data to support the claim that
eating a BARF diet reduces susceptibility to any diseases or parasites.
Allergy and Intolerance - Myth 4
commonly claim reduced levels of food intolerances or "allergies".
True allergies in domestic dogs are very, very rare.29. Still
rare, but more common, are food intolerances or adverse reactions,
usually presenting in itchy scratchy skin, chronic ear infections,
and vomiting and diarrhea. Between 8 and 11% of all dogs elicit
adverse reactions to food at one point in their lives. A review
of literature encompassing a large number of dogs and published
studies covering the US, Australia, New Zealand and Europe was
conducted. That study revealed the following proteins in descending
order are the major culprits in dogs: Beef, Wheat, Dairy, Lamb,
Chicken, Egg, and Soy. These seven items comprise 93% of all adverse
reactions.29 Internet mythology, emboldened by unscrupulous manufacturers
anxious to create a niche in the market frequently ascribe allergies
to corn, yet corn is one of the least likely sources of intolerance.
Only 4% of the 8-11% of all intolerant dogs has shown intolerance
to corn and rice combined. Part of the problem certainly has to
be attributed to the use of ELISA blood tests for allergies, which
are well known and well documented to be completely worthless
in determining adverse reactions to food. Nonetheless some veterinary
clinics continue to order these tests and rely upon them, thus
providing poor information to their clients and increasing the
perceived level of food intolerances that exist.
frequently claim they have resolved these food allergies by switching
to a Barf diet. Dogs can show a reduction of symptoms by simply
increasing the amount of essential fatty acids in the diet. The
question then becomes; was the animals' previous diet simply deficient
in these essential fatty acids, or is the current level of essential
fatty acids simply covering up the symptoms? There is no way to
tell. Did the Barf diet substituting raw beef for the cooked beef
change the animals' reaction to the beef protein molecule? No,
if the animal was intolerant of beef before, it is still intolerant
of beef. What the Barfer may have simply discovered was the prior
food source simply had too few essential fatty acids for the individual
pet. Raw ingredients are no more likely, or less likely to instill
an allergenic response or intolerance.
typically eschew grains and vegetable matter as being unimportant
and even inappropriate for domestic dogs and concentrate on raw
meat as the primary nutrient source. Never mind that Epicyon became
extinct following a very similar diet and Eucyon survived by being
adaptable and eating anything and everything they could.
Bones - Myth 5
feeding of raw bones to domestic dogs is an integral part of the
Barfer diet fad. Proponents claim that no harm will come to any
dog fed a raw bone. Never mind the literature and veterinary clinics
that have seen countless cases of impacted bones, torn stomachs,
and other internal organs as a result of this practice. What Barfers'
fail to recognize is that the wolf and other wild canids have
developed a unique process to accommodate raw bones, a process
which domestic dogs as a result of 100,000 years of natural selection
cannot duplicate. Debbie Davidson, wildlife biologist with the
International Wolf Center in Maine describes that process.
a wildlife biologist in Maine and the Maine field representative
for the IWC. Wolves, and likely the other wild canids that you
mentioned, have a mechanism that protects their internal organs
when they pass the bones of wild animals through their systems.
The first feces produced after a kill are very dark and quite
liquid-like with little form; it looks to us like diarrhea. Wolves
don't necessarily eat everyday and so the subsequent feces often
reflect the same kill. The next time they defecate, the feces
is still dark but has more form. With each defecation, the feces
become lighter in color and contain more substance. Because they
often eat the entire animal that they kill, they ingest a lot
of hair. Towards the final defecations involving the same kill,
hair can be seen in the feces actually wrapped tightly around
any bones that are passed through. This seems to protect the organs/passageways
as the bones are eliminated."2
few Barfers' are feeding whole carcasses complete with the hide
and hair. The availability of whole carcasses to most people is
severely limited. Even if a Barfer were to find patches of hide
to feed along with the raw bone, today's naturally selected evolutionary
model of domestic dogs does not have the ability to digest these
bones in the same manner anyway. Domestic dogs have not been shown
to be able to "wrap bones in hair" to protect internal
Results of Feeding BARF. - Myth 6
of the most frustrating conditions in both dogs and cats fed raw
foods, particularly the yeast, bone meal, muscle and gristle trim
tissues and chicken parts such as necks or backs commonly used,
is that of digestive disorders and the resulting deeper weaknesses,
such as allergies, arthritis, I.B.S., liver, kidney or thyroid
imbalance, poor immune responses and other organ issues, including
diabetes and seizures."30 This comment from Dr. Lisa S. Newman,
ND (Naturopathic Doctor), Ph.D., and Dr. Lee Veith, D.V.M. whom
tried using BARF in the treatment of pets.
the [BARF] diets tested had nutritional deficiencies or excesses
that could cause serious health problems when used in a long-term
feeding program. Of equal concern is the health risks associated
with bacteria in the raw food diets, especially the homemade diet
that yielded E. coli O157:H7. Although owners feeding raw food
diets often claim that dogs are more resistant to pathogenic bacteria,
we are not aware of evidence to support that claim."31 This
from Drs. Freeman and Michel in the work they published in March
2001 in the AVMA Journal.
typically concentrate on ingredients and ignore nutrients. This
is much akin to not being able to "see the forest because
of the trees". Ingredients give the pet owner no clue in
regards to an animal's prospective ability to utilize the nutrients
the ingredient brings to the animal. An individual pet does not
take a molecule of chicken protein and use that molecule to replace
damaged muscle tissue. It is the individual amino acids present
within that molecule that the animal uses for biological functions.
Barfers' often denigrate amino acids, vitamins, minerals and other
nutrients derived from one source or another and proclaim some
magical value to nutrients from another source. Any nutrient from
a grain is presumed by most Barfers' to have lesser benefit than
the same nutrient derived from a meat source. Multiple scientific
studies have proven this to be a complete fallacy. There is no
"traffic cop" in the stomach that refuses entry for
some nutrient derived from grain and permits the passage of the
same nutrient derived from a meat source. For example a molecule
of tryptophan, an important amino acid, whether derived from soy,
corn or beef has equal value to the animal. While some nutrients
are in greater abundance in some ingredients, the biological value
of the given nutrient is not negated simply because of the source.
frequently denigrate the value of grains in the diet of domestic
dogs. The most commonly used grain in pet foods is corn. About
99% or the starch fraction of the grain is digested in dogs. This
holds true of nearly all grains. The starch fraction of any grain
contributes carbohydrates which are a source of rapidly available
energy that does not require the kidneys to process it before
it can be utilized. The protein fraction of corn, which is highly
digestible in dogs, contributes valuable amino acid building blocks.
Grains like corn also contribute high levels of naturally occurring
Omega Fatty acids and the antioxidant lutein, critical for long
term health. 100,000 years of genetic mutation and natural selection
made it possible for domestic dogs to derive a significant amount
of value out of grains.
the process of proclaiming great value to the BARF diet, the proponents
completely ignore one of the most common causes of death in domestic
pets - renal (kidney) failure. In most cases the proposed diet
recipes are excessive in calcium and phosphorous. While there
is no data that shows the feeding of high levels of phosphorous
will cause renal failure, there is a mountain of data which clearly
shows renal failure can be greatly exacerbated by feeding such
a diet. Most veterinary hospitals are unable to detect renal failure
until 70% of the kidney is destroyed. Barfers' tend to concern
themselves with internet fantasy diseases purported to be caused
by artificial antioxidants and totally ignore real disease like
renal failure. This is much like standing in the middle of an
LA freeway with the cars whizzing by at 70 mph and being worried
that you will die as a result of a lightning strike on a sunny
California day. Ignoring real disease in favor of internet fantasy
diseases is not the best choice for your pet.
loudly proclaim the value of "raw" versus cooked. While
there is no question that some nutrients are degraded by the cooking
process there are also a number of nutrients that are unavailable
to the animal unless the given ingredient is cooked. Sometimes
there is a trade off. For example, vitamin C is easily destroyed
by heat whereas carotenoids are made more available by the softening
effects of cooking. Manufacturers can easily add in more vitamin
C to increase the levels in the final product. In some cases vegetables
must be cooked to be safe to eat. Common starches are a good example
of a nutrient that is virtually unusable unless cooked. Cooking
tomatoes significantly increases lycopene absorption. Uncooked
whole grains are virtually useless to dogs. 18, 19 Digestibility
as measured by protein efficiency ratio of raw kidney beans significantly
improved when cooked. True digestibility and net protein utilization
also showed a significant improvement in the case of cooked kidney
beans.32 Trypsin inhibitors isolated from buckwheat seeds are
heat stable and can cause poor digestion if they are not suitably
cooked before consumption.34
were first discovered well over a hundred years ago. The last
vitamin discovered was vitamin k in 1946. The rate at which vitamins
degrade during any given cooking process is well known and established.
Tables of nutrient degradation under various types of cooking,
at various temperatures, and various lengths of time have been
well known for many years. Commercial pet food producers are well
aware of these effects. It is very simple and inexpensive for
any commercial manufacturer to add these nutrients into the product
mix at a rate high enough to allow for degradation and still contain
the needed quantities. In contrast the Barfer has no clue about
the digestibility and availability of specific nutrients in the
meals they prepare. No controlled feeding trials have been performed,
and no testing of micro nutrient levels has been performed for
any of the commonly promoted recipes, much less individual alterations
to recipes proffered by the Barf crowd
sometimes proclaim that there are "trace" nutrients
we are not yet even aware of that are present in raw foods and
not present in cooked foods. While the progress of science in
determining what trace molecules exist in any given ingredient
is increasing at a geometric rate there is no question that we
may have some left to discover. What the Barfer fails to recognize
is that 100,000 years of natural selection have created a domestic
pet that is attuned to the effects of cooking and eating human
trash. Further there may be just as many "trace" nutrients
discovered to exist only in cooked versions of any given ingredient.
We already know that many nutrients are not bio-available to the
domestic dog unless they are cooked. Certainly we will discover
new trace elements in food and how they impact the animal in the
future. We will just as certainly discover trace nutrients in
cooked foods that are not biologically available in raw foods.
Failing to recognize the impact of 100,000 years of natural selection
evolution and mutation on the domestic dog can lead to erroneous
Barf proponents ignore nutrients in favor of ingredients, all
such diets end up unbalanced. Perhaps this is why the vast majority
of veterinarians oppose Barf feeding, and why not even a single
board certified veterinary nutritionist is a proponent of barf
feeding. Very few, if any, Barfers' have the technical skills
or the equipment necessary to analyze the meals they develop and
administer to their pets. An analysis of any Barf diet recipe
illustrates the problems this can entail. A commonly recommended
Barf recipe provides the animal with 50% more calcium than is
appropriate and 22% more phosphorous than an animal should have.
Such excessive levels may lead to a number of long-term health
problems. It is not uncommon for veterinarians to encounter puppies
like Julie, a young puppy whose owner was determined to feed the
BARF diet. After a few months the puppy developed osteoporosis
and had several fractures, indicative of rickets. Placing the
puppy back on a commercial diet resolved the problems an unbalanced
diet created. Veterinary clinic observations of mal-nutrition
among Barf diet feeders are hugely more frequent than is appropriate
for the small percentage of people experimenting with this latest
fad in pet food. If this same percentage of failures was found
in any current drug or commercial food, it would be the subject
of massive media investigations, TV News Show exposes, and the
company involved would be spending the rest of its' life defending
of raw meat is fraught with danger. US consumers have become more
careful over the past few years and the incidence of human disease
as a result of salmonella, listeria, shigella, and E-coli have
been reduced. However the FDA has taken note of increased risks
to humans of feeding raw meats to our pets. A draft notice was
issued by the FDA December 18th, 2002. It states in part "FDA
does not believe that raw meat foods are consistent with the goal
of protecting the public from significant health risks, particularly
when such products are brought into the home and/or used to feed
domestic pets." "…the potential for risk to public
health from such products is undeniable, and the magnitude of
such risk is likely significant..."
feeding of raw diets to dogs and cats may affect the animals themselves
or may have unexpected effects on children, elderly or other human
inhabitants of the same household. In a Canadian study published
in June 2002, Joffe et al studied the shedding of salmonella organisms
in the feces of dogs fed raw diets. Salmonella was isolated from
30% of the raw fed dogs37. That means the dogs fed raw diets were
spreading salmonella about the back yards and other areas of the
household. The bacterial contamination may not affect most dogs
and many humans may be relatively safe in a bacterially infected
area, but some humans may end up succumbing to the effects of
this powerful bacterial infection.
handling of meats for human consumption nearly always entails
cooking and consumers have become accustomed to careful handling.
This care goes by the wayside when our pets are fed raw meats.
The contaminating bacterium from the meat is spread around the
dogs' mouth and face as it consumes the meal. Consumers who pet
their dogs anytime after a meal may contaminate themselves or
their children. The USDA estimates that salmonella is present
in 35 percent of turkeys, 11 percent of chickens and 6 percent
of ground beef. Each year, food-borne pathogens like Salmonella,
Campylobacter, E-Coli, Shigella, and Listeria cause 76 million
illnesses and 5,000 human deaths. According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), E-coli O157:H7 kills an
estimated 60 people nationwide every year and sickens another
vociferous claims to the contrary pets fed BARF diets do succumb
to the bacterial species commonly found on raw un-cooked foods.
The literature contains numerous examples of such deaths and diseases.
An example is a Papillion breeder in Texas who fed a raw chicken
based BARF diet. Two dogs developed gastrointestinal signs and
died within 48 hours of exposure. Other breeders who used the
same sources of food reported similar problems. The species of
salmonella found in the gastric mucosa was identical to that found
in the chicken. Salmonella Heidelberg was cultured from the dead
dogs as well as the chicken food source.36 The BARF myth that
dogs can somehow "handle" contaminated foods is simply
that; a myth, unfounded in reality, and dangerous in its application.
the lawyers are starting to get concerned about the dangers. Douglas
C. Jack LL.B. wrote in his column on veterinary legal issues:
"Ultimately, veterinary science will produce sufficient data
necessary to determine their (BARF Diets) efficacy. However, until
that time, there is some elevated risk of liability for veterinarians
who advocate raw foods." "To the extent that there is
any body of literature that draws a connection between the feeding
of raw diets and the incidence of parasitic zoonotic disease,
then there is evidence of causal connection between raw meat and
bones and subsequent illness of either the companion animals or
its owners". "A report of the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention indicates that such a nexus may exist. (The companion
Animal Practice Council also recommended against feeding raw foods
in guidelines unveiled in January)".38
have found that comparing the diet of wild canids to domestic
dogs is fraught with error. We have also discovered that the life
span of wild canids is nothing any of us would want to inflict
upon our own pets. We have discovered that feeding raw bones unaccompanied
by the hide and hair to a domestic dog, unequipped with the ability
to "wrap the bones" with hair, is an accident looking
for a place to happen. We have learned that BARF fed wild canids
are no more immune to disease and parasites than domestic dogs.
We have determined that domestic dogs live longer today than they
did even 50 years ago. We have learned that micro-nutrients may
well be found in raw foods but also may exist only in cooked foods.
We have learned that domestic dogs separated from their closest
cousins the wolf over 100,000 years ago. We have learned that
BARF diets are supported not by science, but by opinion and emotion,
by scare mongering media desperate to gain your attention, and
by the purveyors of videos, books, products to sell, and websites,
each with a financial stake. We have looked at a couple of the
hundreds of pets each year who end up as medical disasters in
the veterinary clinic as a direct result of feeding the Barf diet.
We know that the vast majority of veterinarians oppose Barf feeding
and not single board certified veterinary nutritionist is a proponent
of Barf feeding. The clearly proven risks of feeding Barf far
outweigh its' purported advantages. It's your pet and by right
you may choose how to feed your pet. Choose wisely, choose based
upon real evidence and real facts. Choose based upon the knowledge
of board certified veterinary nutritionists. Refuse to allow internet
fantasy and the latest imported fad to rule your emotions and
have a devastating effect upon the health of your pet, your children
National Geographic November 2002.
Wayne R. K., "Molecular evolution of the family dog,"
Trends in Genetics, June 1993 (vol. 9, #6) pp. 218-224.
Maia OB, Gouveia AM. Braz J Biol 2002 Feb; 62(1):25-32 Birth and
mortality of maned wolves Chrysocyon brachyurus (Illiger, 1811)
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