Sarantos Menoutis, Veterinary AUTH
Commercial Nutrition, Homemade or BARF?
Our pet's diet has always been a matter of thought and concern. The choices are many and the information so confusing that instead of clearing the landscape, they get confused and often make the wrong impression. Here are three options for a pet owner: ready-made (dry, semi-liquid or liquid) food, the food prepared and cooked by the owner and BARF. Let us see below the advantages and disadvantages of each.
A key feature of a commercial diet is its fullness and nutrient balance. This, combined with its ease of use, makes it the most popular choice for pet owners. Indeed, setting up a ready-made feed offers exactly what an animal needs and in the amount it needs. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, macronutrients and trace elements are in the required quantities but also in balance with each other to meet the needs of the body without causing deficits that can lead to pathological problems.
It is the easiest choice because it does not take much time and effort. All you need to get it is to go to a specialized feed store.
Its maintenance is simple and safe because its low moisture content allows long-term storage at room temperature. It is worth noting here that the moisture content of the food determines its shelf life after opening the package as well as its taste. For example, canned foods are stored in the refrigerator after opening but are more tasty.
Homemade nutrition, that is to say, the preparation of home-cooked food by the owner is not so widespread and the most important reason is the lack of time and expertise. Preparation and cooking of raw materials takes a long time and there is always the risk that they are incomplete or inadequate in nutrients. It is also possible to add some food that may cause direct harm to the animal (eg grape, onion).
On the other hand, home-cooked food is much tastier than dry food, which often makes the transition from homemade to dry food extremely difficult.
A key advantage of home cooking is that the owner is always aware of the quality of the raw materials and can be relatively sure of their safety.
It should be noted that, as a home-made diet, we do not mean human food, which is totally unfit for a dog.
Biologically appropriate raw food is a relatively new trend in Greece which means that the results of its use will be evident in the near future. Its dominant feature is that due to the lack of heat treatment (raw materials are frozen without cooking) the food retains all its nutrients unchanged.
Another positive aspect of BARF is its visibility. Due to its increased humidity and lack of cooking, it retains all the aromas of the raw materials which makes it more delicious.
On the other hand, precisely because BARF is subjected to no heat treatment other than freezing, it is an extremely volatile product that must be transported and stored under the conditions for which it is made. Also, the owner must carefully choose his supplier so as to reduce the chance of transmitting infectious and parasitic diseases.
From the above, one can conclude that the pet owner has many choices in terms of feeding his pet. Whatever the choice, however, one thing to keep in mind is that the food of his animal must be safe, complete and balanced.