I need a BARF pep talk. I'm pretty tired of making mash, buying meat, finding bones, making sure things are defrosted on time...you know the drill.
I love the advantages to BARF, I love that Angel's demo cleared up, she gained a couple pounds, and Gage is looking great, as well as being less itchy. I love that there's less poop (although now it almost seems like more? I guess that's cause there's three of the beasties
). I love that their poop doesn't smell like dog poop anymore. I love that my dogs LOVE their food and are excited for meal times, and I love knowing exactly what they are eating.
On the other hand, I have some concerns. First off, before jumping into this, I did all the "pro BARF" research, and read that uncooked bones turn rubbery in the stomach acids, so punctures to the digestive system aren't a risk. So, I didn't worry about feeding my dogs chicken backs & necks. But lately, Angel's been puking off and on (she's always been a puker). I wasn't concerned, except that even though she pukes up to 4 hours after eating, all she's puking up is SHARP, not rubbery, chicken bone pieces (and occasionally beef bone). If they're still sharp four hours later, couldn't it be hurting her inside?
I have to take Angel to the vet soon anyway, I think there's something wrong with her - she's mopey, she's been fussing with her feet (she's got one chewed right raw, which she's now favoring, so she's wearing a cone), her hair looks a bit thinner (to me), her growth looks a bit bigger (again to me, hubby says it's the same), she's throwing up again (she stopped for about a month after we started BARFing), and just over the last few days, she's had 3 pee accidents and 2 poop accidents in the house (gone and done it in my son's room), which is really odd, as she's been housebroken for 18months. I'm giving her foot a couple days, and if it doesn't improve significantly, or if there are anymore "accidents", then it's off to the vets.
Angel's also been looking more bow-legged lately, which could be due to the degenerative nature of her condition (straight hocked/stiffled, with luxating patellas, kept in check by phsyio, which we haven't been doing for about 6 months, as she seemed to have stabilized), but I'm worried it could be due to an improper calcium/phosphorus ratio in her diet.
All of a sudden, I'm reading tons of articles online about how BARF is dangerous, due to the bones and the possibility of bacterial contamination. I'm not worried about the bacteria, I store and handle their foods safely. I am worried about the bones. Pro-BARF says bones are good for teeth and safe, look at wild canids. Anti-BARF says bones cause broken teeth and tears/injury to the throat and digestive tract, most wild canids don't live past 4 yrs old, and they also consume the fur, etc., which helps protect the digestive tract from the sharp bones.
I feel kind of stuck, b/c I don't know I'd be able to find any dry food Gage could tolerate, maybe I should pay the big $$$ and have him actually tested for allergies, or maybe I should go back to the most basic of basic diets for him (straight chicken and bone with veg, NO TREATS or additives), keep him there until he is completely symptom free, then try adding things one at a time? I don't even know if that's possible, as he counter surfs and cleans the floor (the second my son drops a triscuit, Gage hoovers it up, then he's congested and itchy all day/night )
I know some people suggest a homemade cooked diet as an alternative to BARF, but then how do they get the calcium and minerals they would've gotten from the raw bones?
I don't know what to do...I just want what's best for my dogs, be it BARF, kibble, home cooked, whatever. And it can't cost like a zillion bucks, or my hubby will never go for it. Right now, BARF is costing around $100/month for the three dogs, once I start feeding beef bones instead of the ground backs/necks, it'll be more like $70/month.
Any suggestions? Encouragement? Advice?