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BARF - I'm almost sold

June 25th, 2007, 03:09 PM
I'm almost sold on making the switch to BARF but I'm hoping someone here can help me alleviate a big fear of mine.

E.coli and Salmonella: While I would practice the best in food safety, I'm more concerned about what happens after I feed the dogs. Some people find it absurdly gross, but my family and I rather enjoy the occasional *kiss* we get from our dogs. I have two young children (3 and 1) who cannot always get up and walk away when our dog's affection's get carried away. This always leads to a lot of giggling and a warm wash cloth to wipe off the "messy kiss"

In addition - I read on wikipedia ( ), that one study estimated 30% of stool samples from BARF fed dogs contain salmonella. Whereas kibble fed dogs had no trace of salmonella. I don't spend a lot of time rolling in the grass, but my children do. I do my best to clean the yard but the 1yr old in partiqular seems quite fond of eating whatever is at her feet.

What are the chances of these bacteria being transferred to my children through slobbery kisses and eating soil that may be contaminated. Has anyone here successfully transitioned to BARF with young children in the mix?

June 25th, 2007, 08:15 PM
Always the 'germ thing'. This is not my work, just some cut and paste, I could continue for hours but you would be very very bored. I have an imense dislike for wikipedia as any time I have ever look at any subject that I know anything about, I have found the information very misleading.

"We must think in terms of the changes in the microbial ecology of our pets and our homes. We exist in the bacterial world, not bacteria in ours. Unfortunately, we believe that we can rid ourselves of bacteria when, in fact, we cannot. Instead, we should "make peace" with them. Although we need to control pathogens when they cause disease, we do not have to engage in a full-fledged "war" against the microbial world. Improved antibiotic use, including shorter treatments and removal of improper usage, will encourage the return of antibiotic-susceptible, commensal flora and return the environment to what it was before the antibiotic/antibacterial onslaught."
Yes, the bacteria in raw meat might hurt your dog IF the dog already has an immunocompromised system or some underlying problem. Raw diets have also been blamed for causing things like pancreatitis and kidney disease, when in reality the underlying disease was already there and was brought to light by the change in diet. Dogs are surprisingly well-equipped to deal with bacteria. Their saliva has antibacterial properties; it contains lysozyme, an enzyme that lyses and destroys harmful bacteria. Their short digestive tract is designed to push through food and bacteria quickly without giving bacteria time to colonize. The extremely acidic environment in the gut is also a good bacteria colonization deterrent. People often point to the fact that dogs shed salmonella in their feces (even kibble-fed dogs do this) without showing any ill effects as proof that the dog is infected with salmonella. In reality, all this proves is that the dog has effectively passed the salmonella through its system with no problems. Yes, the dog can act as a salmonella carrier, but the solution is simple—do not eat dog crap and wash your hands after picking up after your dog.

Even kibble-fed dogs regularly shed salmonella and other bacteria. Most of the documented cases of severe bacterial septicemia are from kibble-fed animals or animals suffering from reactions to vaccines. Commercial pet foods have been pulled off shelves more than once because of bacteria AND molds that produce a deadly toxin. The solution? Use common sense. Clean up well and wash your hands. And think about your dog—this is an animal that can lick itself, lick other dogs, eat a variety of disgusting rotting things, and ingest its own feces or those of other animals with no ill effects. The dog, plain and simple, can handle greater bacterial loads than we can. Can dogs get sick from the bacteria? I suppose they can. But it is rare and usually indicative of an underlying problem, especially when one stops to consider how much bacteria that dog probably comes in contact with every single day. One must ask "Why this dog? Why now? What has made this particular dog susceptible to bacterial overgrowth?" Something is not 'right' regarding the dog's health—a healthy dog does not suffer from bacterial infections or bacterial septicemia. That is just common sense. A dog suffering from "salmonella poisoning" is obviously not healthy, especially when compared to a dog that ate the same food with the same salmonella load but is perfectly healthy and unaffected. The first dog has suffered a 'breakdown' in its health that allowed the bacteria to become a problem; if one is talking in homeopathic medicine terminology, this is simply one more symptom that shows the dog is suffering from chronic disease (see the Vaccines page for more information).

I put forth that it is the kibble, not the raw meat, that causes bacterial problems. Kibble in the intestine not only irritates the lining of the bowels but also provides the perfect warm, wet environment with plenty of undigested sugars and starches as food for bacteria. This is why thousands of processed food-fed animals suffer from from a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO (Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. pg 85). Raw meaty bones, however, create a very inhospitable environment for bacteria, as RMBs are easily digestible and have no carbohydrates, starches, or sugars to feed the bacteria.

Can raw-fed dogs make other dogs sick? If the other dog has a suppressed immune system or some underlying problem, then perhaps a raw-fed dog can make another dog sick. But keep in mind the inordinate amount of bacteria dogs usually ingest anyway, not to mention the plaques of bacteria covering the teeth and gums of the kibble-fed dogs. People recall raw-fed dogs being the only dogs at dog shows that did not get sick with some communicable disease of some sort, and then instantly assume that it was those dogs that got all the other dogs sick. A more plausible explanation is that the raw-fed dogs have a much stronger immune system and are thus better equipped to fight off diseases and "canine common colds" that circulate at shows (and possibly that they have been vaccinated less than their kibble-fed counterparts, which results in a stronger immune system). For a more in-depth discussion of how processed foods suppress the immune system, please refer to Raw Meaty Bones.

Just some final thoughts on bacteria and raw: this is what finds its way into the "sterile" kibbled commercial foods:

"Meat products not intended for human consumption, such as inedible tissues, condemned portions of carcasses, and entire carcasses of condemned animals (eg, animals found to be dead, dying, disabled, or diseased at the time of slaughter), are also used for dog food. Because of the inherent nature of these products and the less stringent handling requirements, compared with products approved for human consumption, these products may contain high levels of bacterial contamination." (LeJuene, J.T. and D.D. Hancock. 2001. Public health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 219(9): 1222.)

And as for commercial foods being "bacteria free" (an assumption that is often inferred when people put down raw diets because of the bacteria):

"Pet foods, commercial or homemade, provide an ideal environment for bacterial proliferation." (LeJuene, J.T. and D.D. Hancock. 2001. Public health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 219(9): 1224.)

So do not be fooled into thinking kibbled, commercial pet food is a sterile, bacteria-free source of food! The starches, rancid fats, and sugars in kibbled foods provide much better food sources for bacteria than the proteins in raw meat.

For further information on salmonella and rawfed pets, please click here (note: AdobeAcrobat Reader is needed).


This is a myth made possible by our society's pathological fear of bacteria. Of the millions of bacteria on this earth, it is estimated that less than 1% are harmful. Media and society as a whole have played up bacteria, painting it as an evil nemesis that must be stomped out with disinfectants, antibacterial everything, and unnecessary vaccination. This has resulted in the emergence of super-bacteria and "super-viruses", no thanks to the improper use of antibiotics and the plethora of antibacterial soaps and products. Developmental biologists have recently learned that bacterial exposure is absolutely necessary for the development of a healthy immune system, among other things. Humans and dogs have evolved in the presence of bacteria, and insisting on a sterile environment has created more damage than good. So where does this intersect with raw feeding?

Raw diet critics tout this myth as a main reason for not feeding raw. Yes, there is bacteria in raw meat. Yes, this bacteria can harm you. Yes, this bacteria is sometimes shed in dogs' feces. So if a raw-fed dog licks you, are you going to get sick? I suppose all things are possible, but on the whole: no, you will not get sick. This bacteria does not persist in the mouth of a raw-fed canine. Canine saliva contains lysozyme, an enzyme that lyses and destroys bacteria, but more importantly, the absence of plaque means the dog's mouth is no longer a hospitable place for bacteria to inhabit. A kibble-fed dog's mouth, however, provides the perfect environment for bacteria growth: plaque-covered teeth with sugary and starchy complexes provide both food and shelter for bacteria. The bacteria thrive in the mouth of a kibble-fed dog because it provides both a perfect atmosphere and a good food source (Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones.). Why does a kibble-fed dog have stinky dog breath? Because of the bacteria in their gums and on their teeth (just like the bacteria in our mouths gives us halitosis). A raw-fed dog's mouth provides neither food nor a viable atmosphere for bacteria, which is why a raw-fed dog has odorless breath. So which dog would you be more worried about being kissed by and contracting disease from? I personally would be quite leery of the stinky-breathed, bacteria-laden kibble-fed dog. If one is still worried about being licked by a raw-fed dog, one has several solutions. Teach the dog not to lick, or avoid being licked. But if you have a healthy immune system, being licked and in contact with a raw-fed dog will not affect you other than boosting your immune system. This is the same thing for kids: being around and licked by a raw-fed dog will do nothing but boost their immune systems and help them grow up into happy, healthy adults.

As for dogs shedding bacteria in their feces: do not eat dog poo and wash your hands after feeding your dogs or cleaning up after them. Handle the raw meat you feed your dogs the same way you handle your own raw meat (which can get you sick if you eat it raw or do not clean up well enough afterward; do the experts really think that people are not smart enough to figure out that they should wash their hands and countertops after preparing raw meaty bones for their dogs? Apparently so.). If you have kids, teach the children not to eat dog poo and clean up immediately after your dog, and you will not need to worry. Bacteria is absolutely everywhere. You are just as likely, if not more likely, to get sick from your produce or a strange bathroom. You do not need to worry about the dog tracking bacteria through the house; there is plenty of bacteria throughout the house anyway, so any additional bacteria a raw-fed dog might add is negligible. Thousands of people—even immunocompromised people—feed their dogs raw with no bacteria issues and with stronger immune systems as a result.

Anti-raw people protest that raw-fed dogs pose a serious health risk to immunocompromised people and people with auto-immune disorders. Oddly enough, it is these immunocompromised people who have a better understanding of the important role nutrition plays in strengthening the immune system. A quick tour of the Yahoo! Rawfeeding group will reveal quite a few people who have an auto-immune disorder but have been feeding their dogs raw for many years with no ill results whatsoever. Anti-raw people (vets included) make it sound like immuno-compromised people (and most other people) are incapable of properly handling raw meat and cleaning up afterwards. The solution proposed—do not feed raw meaty bones!—is absurdly condescending (they assume we cannot clean up after ourselves and are incapable of feeding our dogs because we lack a credential in pet nutrition), and skips the most logical step: simply observe proper hygiene and use the same precautions you use in preparing your own meat. It is not that difficult, honestly.

People proclaiming this "serious health risk" claim seem to think people are incapable of a) properly feeding their dogs and b) cleaning up after themselves. Use good hygiene practices: clean countertops and utensils used to feed dogs, and wash your hands. Feed the dog outside or inside on a towel or plastic-type tablecloth you can reuse and wash when needed. Or feed the dog in its crate, or on an easy-to-clean surface. By training the dog to eat in one place, you will not have to "worry" about him tracking a mess or bacteria through the house. If you are still concerned about bacteria, clean your dog's paws, mouth, etc. with a mild, safe antimicrobial like diluted white vinegar. Honestly, as long as proper hygiene is observed, the bacteria are a non-issue. Remember, you are sharing your life with an animal that licks its own rear and eats cat poop before licking your face.

For an excellent article on the risk of salmonella infection and rawfed pets, please click here (note, Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed).

Yes, there can be parasites in raw meat. But if you are getting meaty bones and carcasses from places fit for human consumption, the parasite factor is negligible. Most parasites are a non-issue and can be safely dealt with by your dog if it is healthy.

The parasite issue is something than non-raw folk use as a scare tactic, telling you that your dog is going to die if it eats raw meat because it will get a weird parasite. They neglect to tell you the very low incidence of these parasites in meat deemed safe for human consumption; nor do they tell you the most "deadly" of these parasites come from things like infected sheep placentas or stillborn calves. Simple solution—do not feed those things to your dog. If the dog looks like it has parasites, simply get a stool sample or blood sample taken. A dog can be wormed holistically or allopathically (the chemical insecticide dewormers). But generally speaking, if your dog has a healthy immune system, it can deal with the parasites before they even get a chance to establish themselves. Parasites hate a very healthy host.

Freezing meat can help kill many parasites (such as the parasite present in salmon that CAN cause a deadly disease in dogs; freezing fresh raw salmon, steelhead, trout, and other salmonids for at least 24 hours before feeding effectively disposes of the parasite. Cooked salmon does not carry the parasite.). As long as one exercises caution in obtaining their meat, parasites are a non-issue. If feeding fresh salmonids or wild game, it is recommended that the meat be deep frozen for at least 24 hours before feeding for salmonids and one month for wild game.

Do not give in to the bacteria and parasite scare tactics. The suggestion of cooking your dog's food is actually quite harmful! It is the cooked food that causes problems with the dog's digestive system and that can result in the nutritional deficiencies vets claim they see from raw diets (in reality, most of these nutritional deficiencies arise primarily from home-cooked diets, since cooking destroys many valuable nutrients.). This issue is dealt with in further detail in the Cooked Food myth.

Potentially pathogenic bacteria commonly associated with raw meat such as Salmonella or E. coli can cause serious infections. Even if a case is made that dogs can tolerate bacteria-rich food there are equally important concerns for the owners and their family. Unless scrupulous hygiene measures are maintained for the storage and preparation of these raw meats there are real risks of infection. The reason why there is such focus made on bacteria, is because it helps the dog food companies sell their product by scaring off consumers.
In my vast experience with feeding a raw diet, and those of the many tens of thousands of contacts who are also feeding a raw diet, we are yet to see a case of e-coli or salmonella poisoining on an appropriate raw diet.

However, if you have a dog who has a compromised immune system due to being fed a commercial diet for years, then your dog may have problems with rotten meat.

However, advocates of an appropriate raw diet, recommend you feed your dog good quality carcasses/raw meaty bones.

"Scrupulous hygiene measures" is another scare tactic, often used by those trying to sell anti-bacterial products, which are now being associated with the creation of "super-bacteria".

While hygiene is important, the fanatical position of Mr Peck is purely trollop.

The only cases I have heard of, of dogs suffering from salmonella and e-coli poisoning, have been in dogs on commercial diets.

June 26th, 2007, 08:23 AM
Wow - Very informative and slightly humorous! :thumbs up

There are a few links that are broken that I would like to take a look at. Can you provide the address where you obtained this information from?

Thanks for the wealth of info!

June 26th, 2007, 11:19 AM taken from
Then these few have some usefull information.
While I agree with the content I do not feel this diet is for everyone. It does take wok, it does make more mess and you do have to think, these are things I also feel, are within everyones caperbility. I don't like the attitude that as educated people we as dog owners will suddenly start wiping the blood and viscera of animals over work tops and not bother to clean it. Clean means clean, not germ free. At the raw feeding groups there are thousands of people feeding dogs a raw diet of some kind or other, and thety are not replacing their animals very 2 years due to some devistating infection.
I cannot answer if the actual content of the diet is any better, I know what my beliefs are and I also see many many beautiful dogs doing well on a variety of comercial food. That debate will go on for many moons to come :p but using the scare tactic of bacteria is as usefull as finding out what they spray on the kibble to get dogs to eat it.
The prey model suit us, and more inportantly our pets in our house, however if they had never had a prey model and continued on there quality kibble I would not have beat myself up over it :D .
Now when you say BARF do you mean BARF as it is meant of Raw feed. There is a huge difference that you may wish to read up on.:dog:

June 26th, 2007, 01:56 PM
Thank you so much for the information and the links. The RAWFED site answered every question I've had and a few I didn't. I was initially leaning towards B.A.R.F but I can really appreciate and relate to the reasoning behind a RAW diet. I still have a lot of homework to do, but thank you for pointing me in the right direction! :pawprint:

June 26th, 2007, 03:29 PM
so we ahve had Mister on a raw diet for a few weeks now and have never had a problemw ith my 15 month old son nor my 8 year old daughter getting sick from it. we keep Mister away from the kids for about an hour after eating, i dont think i need to do that BUT it makes me feel better. :)