Birdie the bull terrier and owner Annika Tiainen.The Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet is becoming popular among dog owners, and pet shops will soon sell as much raw meat as dry food.

RAW chicken wings, internal organs, neck and heart, pork back ribs, bones and puréed vegetables. That’s the diet of bull terrier Birdie.

“Birdie likes meal times more than before. She jumps eagerly beside me when I put her food in a cup,” Annika Tiainen, the owner of the eight-month-old dog says.

When she was a puppy, Birdie ate dry dog food, but afterwards she went on the BARF diet, and now she mainly eats bones and raw meat.

According to Musti ja Mirri, a national pet shop chain, feeding dogs with the BARF diet has become a trend. The demand for raw meat skyrocketed in January, and was up by 70 per cent.

“Dry foods are still more popular, but since the popularity of the raw food diet is on the rise, it may be that at some point sales will be on an equal level,” says Sanna Salo, a specialist from Musti ja Mirri.

BARF Diet: Raw Meat and Bones

• BARF means feeding cats and dogs with raw food.

• The diet mainly consists of raw meat, bones, internal organs and vegetables. Vegetables keep the intestinal flora balanced.

• Meaty bones form 30-70% of the diet. Bones can be served ground or whole.

• Some dogs cannot eat bones because their stomachs can’t process them.

• The BARF diet means avoiding industrially-made dry foods and trying to imitate the diet of the wild relatives of pets.

• The costs of raw food are similar to the costs of above-average quality dry food.

• BARF is an abbreviation for both Biologically Appropriate Raw Food and Bones and Raw Food.

Bones can block the intestines

Nutritional therapist Malin Ekblom, who has her own practice, argues that a BARF diet can decrease allergies and fertility problems.

“Giving up industrially-made products excludes processed meat, grains and dairy products, as well as food additives, from the diet and thus brings helps health issues,” Ekblom explains.

Dog owners report savings in medical expenses once the BARF diet has started to work.

However, the BARF diet is not completely risk-free. Pet owners should familiarize themselves with the diet properly beforehand.

Unbalanced diet

“If you feed your dog an unbalanced and one-sided diet or feed it bones that are too big or too many bones at once, there is a risk that your dog will suffer from constipation or that the bones will cause blockages or tear the intestines.” Blockages might require an operation.

BARF as a concept is not new. According to Ekblom, this diet was talked about the first time decades ago. The BARF diet is also quite similar to how dogs were fed before dry food came onto the market.

“People used to buy a whole carcass, use the meat themselves, and throw the rest outside for the dogs to eat,” Ekblom says.

Pet stores now sell tubes of meat purée and raw food in frozen form. These are easy to use even for city people who are afraid of mess. According to the personnel of Musti ja Mirri, the BARF diet has gained popularity fastest in the cities.

Most of Birdie’s nutrition also comes from tubes of dog food. The food bill for the 23 kg bull terrier is 80-100 euros a month.