When we refer to the raw food diet, most dog owners associate it with the B.A.R.F diet. B.A.R.F. is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. The creator of this diet, Dr Ian Billinghurst’s foundational premise, is to feed dogs the raw diet they were meant to eat by feeding dogs the diet they evolved to consume.
The genetics of domesticated dogs supports this theory. When it comes to dog breeds, they’re all the same as their grey-wolf cousins.
Billinghurst believed that mature dogs would flourish on an ancestral diet consisting of raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps, similar to what canines ate before they were domesticated. Dogs should avoid grain-based commercial pet foods; he claimed it damages their long-term health.
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However, this diet has detractors like the FDA and most veterinarians. They claim severe health risks when feeding raw food to dogs and humans preparing the food.
- The bacteria in raw food is harmful to humans and dogs
- If a raw food diet is not balanced correctly, it will damage the dog’s health
- Whole bones can break teeth, choke a dog and cause internal bleeding.
Supporters of the raw food diet claim dogs have:
- Better energy levels
- Smaller, dryer stools
- Cleaner teeth
- Shinier coats
- Healthier skin
- Fresher breath
Guidelines for Feeding Raw Food to Your Staffy
You can’t generalise about dogs because each one is unique. What works for one may not work for another, even if they are of the same breed, age, or share other characteristics. Some Staffies might thrive on a raw food diet, while others might not.
However, some hard and fast rules should never be broken when feeding a raw food diet.
- Bones should never be cooked or warmed (mince, wings, necks, carcasses etc.)
- Your Staffy will enjoy gnawing on RAW chicken bones. These bones are perfectly safe when raw because they are soft and chewable.
- However, chicken bones become hazardous when cooked or even warmed (if you’ve had them in the freezer, never warm them in an attempt to defrost).
If you’re switching to a raw food diet, a big mistake some dog owners make is feeding too much. The temptation is to add more to the dog’s dish because it doesn’t seem like they are getting a big enough meal.
Always stick to the manufacturer’s feeding guide if you buy ready-prepared raw food. It’s much more complicated if you’re preparing the raw food yourself.
If you begin a raw food diet for health reasons, and there isn’t a valid other reason to switch, it’s best to stop feeding commercially processed dog treats and human food.
Is Raw Food Good for Staffies?
As you would expect, there are two sides to the argument about feeding Staffies raw food. Some owners support the idea and say it leads to health benefits. However, others are not so sure and often cite health concerns as a reason for sticking with a traditional diet. Whichever camp you’re in, it’s a good idea to know the possible risks.
Dogs on a raw food diet typically eat a variety of raw animal parts, as well as a variety of other raw foods. This could include:
- Fresh vegetables and fruit
- Dairy products
- Raw eggs
- Organ meats
- Muscle meat
- Whole or ground bones
To put this into perspective, most commercially available dog food comprises various types and proportions of cooked meats, cereals, fruits, and vegetables.
Raw food advocates claim commercial diets are “unnatural” and that raw diets more closely resemble what dogs consume in the wild.
To date, no studies have been undertaken to demonstrate long-term health benefits derived from a raw food diet.
If you choose to feed your Staffy raw food, it’s a good idea to know there are risks involved, including:
Bacterial Infection: Raw meals are more likely to be contaminated by bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli than traditional dog food. These can cause serious illness in your dog and could be picked up by other pets or humans, even if your Staffy doesn’t get sick.
Nutritional Deficiency: A raw diet must be nutritionally sufficient for your Staffy. It requires expert advice to formulate the correct nutrients in the raw food. If not, it might lead to malnutrition and severe health conditions down the road.
Bones Can Be Dangerous: I appreciate many Staffy owners feed their dogs bones without any untoward incidents. However, very heavy bones can crack and break a dog’s teeth, and the sharp bone splinters can pierce the stomach and intestines.
How Much Raw Should I Feed My Staffy?
There are some guidelines to follow when feeding a raw diet. However, each dog is different, and most people that start feeding a raw diet just keep a close watch on their Staffies for weight gain or loss.
- 5–8kg: 5% of bodyweight
- 9–10kg: 3% of bodyweight
- 12kg+: 2% of bodyweight
What Is the Best Diet for a Staffy?
Even though meat is the primary source of nutrition for Staffies, they can also benefit from grains, fruits and vegetables. Many plant-based diets’ vitamins, minerals, and fibre are not found in animal products.
Meat, fruits, and vegetables make up a healthy Staffy’s diet. The ingredients in your dog’s food must be of excellent quality and suitable for digestion. It’s also a very good idea to feed age-appropriate food for your Staffy because their nutritional requirements change as they age.