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Ancestral vs BARF vs Prey Diet : Should dogs be eating fruits and veggies??

Wow..I know I know thats a LONG title. I also know that these are some of the questions that are being CONSTANTLY, and I mean CONSTANTLY tossed around by all well meaning Raw feeders. Some are getting into a righteous tizzy about it, others are confused, some are bored and several don’t have the bandwidth in their lives to GAF. Others have turned it into a religious mission. Wherever you stand, this is a quick overview of the landscape and an explanation of why we are doing what we are doing right now at B&D, and why we are very happy doing it!

SO before we start. Lets all relax, and enjoy the fact that we are ALL trying to improve the happiness health and well being of our dogs. We are all on the same side right?

I confess I am excited to be wading into this article.


What is the Ancestral Diet? This is an approach that looks at how the ancestors of dogs fed, evolved and endeavours to imitate this so that it is “species appropriate”. The common analogy is know your engine so you can put the correct fuel in it. The ancestral diet acknowledges that Dogs are carnivores, developed from wolves, scavenging prey and as such need to eat a meat or at least a protein based diet. It also accepts that dogs are ill adapted to deal with carbohydrates and should avoid these if they wish to thrive. The Ancestral approach is the precursor to both the BARF diet and the Prey Based Diet.  BARF and Prey are Ancestral based, they just differ in approach on a couple of minor points.


What is BARF? This stands for a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. Or Bones and Raw Food depending on who you ask.  Essentially it looks at feeding BARF,”species appropriate food” and also accepts that there is some advantage to adding in other elements such as ground up or pureed fruits (particularly berries) and veggies.  Being totally transparent, this is where we currently stand at Bella & Duke. The ground up or pureed part is to aid the dogs digestion, more on this later.


Next, what is the Prey Based Diet? This is what is says on the tin, or the bird, or the rabbit. Feeding the dog raw prey, essentially what it would eat in the wild, the whole carcass and virtually nothing else. The belief system behind this being that dogs have evolved from wolves, (which is an undisputed fact) and cannot digest vegetables or fruits, and if they do it has a “negative load” on their pancreas that could create pancreatitis or other nasty conditions.

Whats the key difference & the impact on “to Veggie or not to Veggie…”.

What is really important to grasp here is that this is evolving science. There is no complete black and white answer, no definitive right and wrong. Only opinion. Only shades of grey. Which sounds like a book on a totally different topic.

What are the key differences between BARF and PREY and whats the view on vegetables.

PREY maintains that wolves cannot produce amylase (the enzyme required to digest carbohydrate) so they cannot digest them and if they can, its only by putting an undue stress on the pancreas.

BARF believers accept this but also acknowledge that dogs differ from wolves in that they actually have evolved and moved on from wolves with a few more copies of the Amylase gene so they CAN produce SOME enzymes for limited carbohydrate consumption.

Lets be clear, this is not saying that dogs are not carnivores , simply that they are able to digest some limited vegetable carbohydrate. (No that is not kibble!)

BARF feeders also accept that dogs in their evolution from wolves have developed the ability to produce maltase. Another carbohydrate digesting enzyme.

Whats the right thing to do?

SO the question is then what is the right thing for your dog? Really ? no one knows for certain. Anyone who present their findings as overwhelming fact is perhaps being narrow minded or at least,  less open to new developments. Here are B&D we accept that we might be wrong, but that right now we are doing the best we know how.

Our best informed guess, from trial , error, experience, interpreting the science we have to date, and seeing the success stories with various approaches is the following.

Dogs thrive on carnivorous diet, especially when the source of protein is quality assured. This latter point is essential. A slice of processed bacon is not the same as a raw outdoor reared turkey.

Dogs DO benefit from some seasonal vegetables. Whilst they may not digest all of it, it is a source of additional very useful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that protect them from various cancers. As per the latest studies.

Whilst excess carbohydrates challenge dogs health, the very limited amount of vegetables in the a B&D meal have virtually no sugar content. Certainly not enough to affect the insulin level of the dog.

For example. If we were to put 15 grams of raw carrot (one of the most carbohydrate rich vegetables) into every 100 grams of meal. That would be less than one gram of carbohydrate and at least two thirds of which would be soluble fibre. SO the diet is still by any definition carnivorous and in human terms “ketogenic”

Importantly, this undigested fibre appears to serve as a fabulous substrate to grow beneficial bacteria which boosts your dogs immune system.

So the vegetables that are digested provide vitamins and minerals, the remainder feed the microbiome and provide fibre for a happy functioning digestive tract.

Even if you disagree and opt for a Prey Based Diet, we still believe you are picking up “most of the easy marks” simply by eliminating processed food, low quality protein, bad fats and the evil G word. Grain.

The rest as they say is detail. As we learn more we will improve more. Until then, rest assured we are doing everything we know how, to help you help your pets live longer, healthier and happier.

A lot of the information I have summarised and gleaned from Amy Marshall’s fabulous article at Primal Pooch. If you are keen to read further then please click here https://primalpooch.com/the-great-debate-do-dogs-need-fruits-and-vegetables/

And please as ever do leave your must valued feedback. You are an essential part of our evolution !!

Happy weekend.

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