The B.A.R.F diet was one of the very first raw diets, based off of recipes from the popular book by Dr.Ian Billinghurst. This was the "raw food" diet that started it all. Since then, raw food diets have been largely commercialized, in both frozen and freeze dried options. Nowadays, there are quite a few well known brands of raw diets on the market.
Don't get me wrong, homemade diets are amazing - if you have the time and energy to make a proper balanced diet that is! I don't know about most of you, but I know for me personally that it's just not possible. So in come commercial diets to save the day! Commercial raw diets are amazing, they take the time and energy out of the preparation time and effort, yet they are still nutritionally whole and balanced. But we do have to be careful when choosing a raw diet appropriate for our furry family member.
When browsing the large variety of newly available commercial raw diets out there, make sure you read the ingredients and know what you're getting into! First things first, ingredients are listed in accordance to their weight, so pay close attention the the first few ingredients listed on the packaging. The first few ingredients should ideally be a protein based source, and organ meats. Then the veggies should start to show up further down the list. Vegetables and some fruits are a nice additive into a dog's diet, granted, there are specific ones that have better qualities than others, but they should still be apparent in the diet nonetheless.
Secondly, as stated in the previous article, raw food companies are not very commonly AAFCO certified, there are a few out there, but they are definitely few and far between. Now, AAFCO certification isn't necessarily the "end all be all" so to speak of "good quality" food, but it most definitely a step in the right direction. Any company that takes extra time (and spends extra money) completely feeding trails to see if their product is nutritionally adequate, is a good company in my books. There are definitely other tell tale signs of a good company though. I always make sure that I know where the protein sources that I am feeding my dog are coming from. It's always nice to have a clear picture of what goes into my dog's food before I put it into his dish!
Commercial raw food is definitely starting to become more commonplace among dog (& cat) owners. Especially now that it is so easily acquired, and the nice thing about the commercially prepared raw diets is that they're simple. It's almost as easy as feeding kibble now! When you do your research, and choose a brand that's nutritionally adequate and right for you as well (in prep time I mean!) then all you have to worry about is remembering to take it out to thaw!
Remember, the more proteins you can rotate the better, so try to switch it up between a few! Sticking with one singular protein (unless of course your dog/cat has an allergy!) may be convenient, but it isn't the best idea. It's definitely a good idea to rotate between a few brands as well. I like to think of it as a safety precaution, because if there ever was a recall on one of the brands I choose to feed my pooch, then at least he isn't consistently eating that single brand day in and day out, which will make it less likely that he would have consumed bad product.
All in all, there is a lot of decision making when it comes to choosing an appropriate diet for your dog, raw or not. But unfortunately with raw food, there is also some important decision making on your behalf as well. Like, can you do this? Does raw meat gross you out? Will you remember to take it out to thaw everyday? But don't worry, it does get easier in time (I know from personal experience) and everyone has those moments of "Shoot, I forgot to thaw the dog's food again!"
So don't fret, take your time making your decisions! It's a different style of feeding for sure, but if you want to do it then you can make it work!