Many allergic dog owners have had success feeding their pets homemade diets. Most fall into one of two camps: They either prepare their dog home-cooked food or they stick to the BARF/Raw diet. I personally have not tried any homemade diets for my boxer Elsie. We have had good success with her most recent Natural Balance dry food, so I see no reason to change her diet. Since I can’t vouch for either diet, I’ll simply provide information on what other owners are doing.
A home-cooked diet is just as it sounds—it involves you cooking your dog’s meals. Home-cooked diets allow you to have full control over the ingredients your dog ingests. This allows you to completely eliminate certain trouble foods that may be causing allergic reactions.
Home-cooked diets can consist of brown rice, cooked meats, such as lamb, beef, or poultry, cottage cheese, eggs, and vegetables. Many dogs on these diets are also provided with a mineral supplement, to ensure they’re receiving their required amount of minerals and vitamins.
If you’re considering feeding your dog a home-cooked diet, I recommend you read Pet Allergies—Remedies for an Epidemic by Alfred J. Plechner, DVM and Martin Zucker. Dr. Plechner’s book shares home-cooked diets he has used to treat allergic dogs and cats for many years. In addition to home-cooked diet information, Dr. Plechner also shares his views on commercial dog food. As a warning, some of his information about commercial pet food is a bit disturbing, but it’s interesting.
BARF OR RAW DIET
I can’t see a diet with the name “BARF” becoming a hit among humans, but the BARF diet has become quite popular among dog owners. BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, a diet developed by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. A BARF diet typically consists of up to 60 to 80 percent raw meaty bones (bones with 50 percent meat) and 20 to 40 percent fruits and vegetables.
The BARF diet believes that your dog should receive protein from sources like their wild ancestors did. Therefore, there are no cooked meets or grains. Your dog is fed raw meats, bones, and vegetables.
There is a bit of controversy surrounding raw diets. Those who support it believe their dogs are being fed a much more natural and digestible diet. Those who don’t subscribe to this diet have concerns that dogs on a raw diet may not be receiving proper nutrients and could risk parasites and bacterial contamination when being fed raw meat.
If you’re interested in feeding your dog a BARF diet, you’ll want to visit www.barfworld.com, a website dedicated to the BARF diet.
With both of these homemade food diets, you should discuss your plans with your veterinarian prior to making any changes in your dog’s diet. It’s likely he has worked with other dog owners who have tried these diets and they may have some useful advice. And, as always, do your research to be sure that you’re giving your dog the right amount of nutrients.