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“At first as they stumped along the path which edged the Hundred Acre Wood, they didn’t say much to each other; but when they came to the stream and had helped each other across the stepping stones, and were able to walk side by side again over the heather, they began to talk in a friendly way about this and that, and Piglet said,”If you see what I mean, Pooh,” and Pooh said, “It’s just what I think myself, Piglet,” and Piglet said, “But, on the other hand, Pooh, we must remember,” and Pooh said, “Quite true, Piglet, although I had forgotten it for the moment.” And then, just as they came to the Six Pine Trees, Pooh looked round to see that nobody else was listening, and said in a very solemn voice:

“What have you decided, Pooh?”

“I have decided to catch a Heffalump.””

Winnie the Pooh – A. A. Milne

So far I have deliberately avoided the one topic that is almost guaranteed to draw raw feeders into a debate, and that is whether they follow the Raw Meaty Bones diet or the BARF diet and which is best. The whole debate saddens me somewhat as it only serves to confuse those deciding whether to switch or not and this confusion may, in some instances, result in the dog remaining on a diet of processed commercial food.

If I had to declare a side (and let’s face it if you’re reading this and you haven’t already worked it out you are probably now wondering so I may as well tell you) I would say I am a Raw Meaty Bones feeder.  I have Tom Lonsdale’s (the vet behind the raw meaty bones diet) books and am a member of the raw meaty bones yahoo group. I therefore know more about this way of feeding and my links are to these references as I feel having used them that I can recommend them.

The raw meaty bones diet is also known as the prey model diet, those who follow this diet feed their pets raw meaty bones (including oily fish), organ meat (including tripe) and eggs, some stop there, others feed raw vegetables, fruits and table scraps.  All of this is in line with Tom’s recommendations, in his book Raw Meaty Bones (page 156) he recommends that for dogs raw meaty bones from a variety of animals should comprise at least 70 percent of the diet, that remainder can be cooked or raw table scraps. Within the group of raw feeders there will be those feeding 100 percent raw meaty bones right through to 70 percent.

He does not recommend supplements to the diet as the norm, rather that some animals may need them in certain circumstances, accordingly most raw meaty bones feeders do not provide supplements.

Ian Billinghurst is the vet behind BARF (which stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Born Again Raw Feeders). I will hold my hand up and say I know less about this diet as I have read a lot less however from what I have read the BARF diet contains 15% crushed vegetable matter and an optional 5% fruit, the rest is raw meaty bones, organ meat and egg. BARF feeders may also include dairy (yoghurt for example) in their dog’s diet and Ian sells a sort of “all round” supplement.

If you know little about raw feeding however at this point you’re probably thinking, hmmm, they seem very similar. Ian even sells Tom’s book on his website (http://www.barfworld.com/cgi-bin/product.cgi). Even if they are considered different, they both require you to think about what you are feeding your own dog so you make informed decisions but you don’t have to follow them blindly.

Raw feeders from “opposing” sides will argue about whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores (Dogs are carnivores) even though the definition itself doesn’t matter much. They get stuck into whether wolves eat the stomach contents of their prey and if not whether vegetables should be fed at all. And for me, every time the detail of this is raked over it (conveniently for the pet food industry) makes it much less painful for the undecided owner to stick with opening that bag of kibble.

If you want to read a little more analysis on this, I liked this summary http://www.newcastleboxers.com/rawvsbarf.shtml.  It was one that I read when I was deciding which diet to use as my start point for Ted.

Ultimately whichever diet you choose they are not a million miles apart and as every dog is slightly different you are going to learn as you go and make the tweaks that suit your dog.

The one thing I will add though, whichever diet you chose I would strongly recommend steering clear of “ready made” ground raw diets. They do nothing to clean your dog’s teeth (a significant benefit of feeding raw meaty bones) and you are relying on someone else to select the ingredients therefore you know much less about what your dog is eating. Yes they can seem like a convenient and “safer” option but if you select one of the diets above and do a small amount of reading you will become a raw feeding expert in no time and there is tons of help on the internet.

So I will say it now, this blog post is about a dog that is fed using the Raw Meaty Bones model of feeding and it will likely refer to this more as this is what I know.  BUT it equally embraces the BARF model (although it believes raw meaty bones should be fed whole NOT ground). Under no circumstances will it tolerate mud slinging by either side, or for that matter a constructive debate about which is best, there are lots of places on the internet for you to get that debate out of your system so please don’t post them here, I will delete them. Debate is good, it helps us to learn and grow but for the uninitiated it can be very off putting and confusing and this blog is about opening people’s eyes to the possibility of feeding raw.

Ted stole my heart from the first time I saw him, he isn’t interested in politics or fighting over things that aren’t that important. I am taking a leaf out of his book.