Myths About Raw Feeding

The Differences Between Prey-model and BARF Diets

By Lily Allyn

A prey model diet is one that is meant to resemble, as closely as possible, the diet that carnivorous canines and felines have evolved to eat, and have been eating, for many thousands, if not millions of years. It's a diet that is modeled on the kinds of whole prey critters that are consumed by our domestic dogs' and cats' wild counterparts - because physiologically speaking, our house pets are virtually identical to wild wolves and small wild cats. Our pets' teeth, stomachs and digestive tracts have been designed by nature to consume whole prey.

Packs of wolves will hunt and bring down large ungulates, such as deer, caribou and bison. Individual wolves will hunt and eat smaller prey such as squirrels, rabbits, hares, chipmunks and other rodents, while small wildcats hunt and prey on small game such as reptiles, birds, fish, rodents and insects.

All of these prey animals are made up of bones, organs, muscle meat, skin, hide/hair/feathers, fat and other connective tissue. In the average prey animal, the ratio of these parts is approximately:

5-10% organs (1/2 of this amount is liver)

10-15% edible bones

80-85% muscle meat (and the rest of the critter)

Since it's not generally practical for us to feed the exact prey animals our pets' wild counterparts hunt and feed on, the next best thing is for us to *model* our pets' diet on the ratio of parts found in wild prey, and to feed these proportions of whatever raw product is readily available to us.

The important thing about prey model diet is that it involves feeding WHOLE foods, in as close to the way nature made them as possible, because this is what carnivores' teeth and digestive systems are designed to consume. One very important reason to feed whole, bone in raw meats to our carnivorous pets, is because of the effect they have on oral health. Gnawing, jawing, slicing, tearing, ripping and crunching through intact raw meat and bones does wonders to keep teeth clean and gums healthy. An unhealthy mouth with rotten teeth and gums can lead to a myriad of health problems, while a healthy mouth with clean teeth and strong gums is much more likely to be the gateway to a healthy body.

Another important aspect of the prey model diet is that since it's generally not practical to feed actual wild prey to our pets, and instead we often must rely on food raised for human consumption, it's crucial that we provide as much variety in our pets' prey model diet as possible, to make up for the fact that commercially raised livestock does not contain the concentration and variety of nutrients that's present in wild prey.

Unlike a prey model diet, BARF diets generally recommend feeding:

~ ground, not whole foods (which encourage gulping and provide no oral stimulation for healthy teeth and gums)

~ vegetables (which are not species appropriate foods for carnivores)

~ very bony body parts like necks, backs and wings (which contain a disproportionately high ratio of bone to meat)

~ supplements (which are unnecessary in a prey model diet because all requisite nutrients already exist in whole foods. The only caveat is that most commercially raised livestock is deficient in essential Omega 3 fatty acids, so some prey model raw feeders supplement with fish body oil if they are unable to feed raw fish)

Prey model is the best way to feed our furry friends. It's based upon the way Mother Nature has been feeding her carnivorous creatures for generations.