Debate: should dogs only eat raw meat? Part 1

The use of Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) - a simple diet of raw meat and bones - is dividing vets worldwide: some swear by it, while others advocate caution. In this first of two posts, BARF-devotee Dr Ian Billinghurst tells us why it works for him. Next Monday, vet Brian Faulkner will give us the other side of the debate.

"I believe that the healthiest diet for dogs and cats is a natural one. Raw meat, bones, vegetables and organ meats - anything that mimics the diet of a wild or feral animal is ideal. I call this the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet and it's what our cats and dogs have evolved to eat.

My views come from almost 35 years as a practice vet, witnessing the harm that commercially produced food can do to pets. It also comes from seeing at first hand with my own pets the rapid improvement to health when a natural diet is adopted.

Back in the 1980s, as I began to understand the value of the BARF diet, I handed out simple diet sheets to clients. These were mostly the owners of young pups and people whose pets had severe or long-term health problems.

The results were consistent and amazing. I watched as puppies that followed this regime thrived. I was astounded as unhealthy pets experienced the same dramatic improvements as my own, with many becoming totally drug-free. Skin and arthritic problems cleared up, and I saw incredible improvements in reproductive health and in orthopaedic problems.

I soon realised that most of the diseases in cats and dogs were due to nothing other than poor nutrition. Instead of an ideal intake of 'meat and two veg', they were getting salt, preservatives, refined sugar, heat-damaged fats, colourings and flavourings.

A natural diet is key to looking after our animals and giving them the best chance for a healthy life. As pet owners, that is surely the best we can offer our animal friends."

Dr Ian Billinghurst
Author of Give Your Dog a Bone.

Do you agree or disagree with the raw meat diet? Let us know by commenting below, we'd love to hear what you think.