Hoogland Newsletter January 2016
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To BARF or not to BARF?!

Seeing our pets eat with enthusiasm drives us to search constantly for the “right” diet for our beloved pets, leading us to consider fashionable diet plans that may claim to be healthier, reduce vet bills and prevent organ disease.
In 1993 Dr Ian Billinghurst published the book “Give your dog a bone” which resonated well with pet owners and started the BARF revolution. BARF is an acronym for Bone And Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.  
This diet consists mainly of raw meat and organs, fruit ,veg and bones, and stems from the rationale that since dogs are domesticated wolves, they should eat a similar diet to wolves. It is true that current DNA evidence suggests that domestic dogs branched off from wolf ancestory 100 000 – 135 000 years ago. However, since then selective breeding, living close to humans and eating our table scraps has permanently changed dogs physically and functionally so that they are no longer suited to a wolf diet.
Even if this had not happened, consider this: The life expectancy of wolves, and other wild carnivores for that matter, is considerable less than that of captive carnivores. Wolves die younger as a result of disease, parasitism and starvation after being unable to eat because of tooth abscesses. Captive carnivores live longer and healthier on... guess what?... commercial pet food!

The second argument for BARF diets is that they are safer and nutritionally superior to commercial pet food. Veterinary recommended commercial pet food is what we call evidence based nutrition. This means that raw materials are tested prior to manufacture, tests on quality are run during manufacturing, and the final product is used in pre-sale feeding trials that are structured and regulated similar to trials used for registration of medicines. 
We have also gotten to the point where veterinary recommended commercial diets can now be used to reduce the need for chronic medications and add quality to the lives of arthritic, overweight, diabetic, allergic, intolerant and organ failure pets.
By contrast, homemade and commercial raw diets are seldom tested for nutritional adequacy and safety and there is no regulatory body setting standards. Owners feeding BARF diets are proud of the fact that their dogs are eating organs. But what if those organs contain toxic levels of vitamin A or hormones that may cause imbalances? How will you know if your pet is getting enough Selenium or Cobalt, before they start becoming ill?

This dogs oesophagus is blocked by bone that he swallowed and had to be surgically removed.

Last but not the least is the constant bone feeding debate. Dr Billinghurst’s web site states “Eating bones for a dog is a joyous experience. It is so enjoyed by dogs that it actually of itself boosts their immune system,”. There is no scientific evidence to support this. However there is plenty of post mortem and radiological evidence that feeding bones can cause lethal constipation, internal punctures and blockage of the intestinal tract, and choking. Further it leads to oral trauma and tooth fractures that cause pain and often necessitate costly dental extraction under anaesthetic.

Vets and the pet food industry don’t claim that to know everything, but with ongoing research and safety testing, we keep trying to get better at feeding pets.



Left over turkey? Why not make your canine buddy some tasty chewy treats? These can take the place of rawhide chews for some dogs.

You will need:
  • Turkey
  • Baking paper and oven OR dehydrator!
  • For cats only – dried catnip.
You can replace turkey with skinned chicken breasts, boneless fish, or boneless red meat.
If you use left overs, please ensure you use the inner flesh, free of spices and sauces.
  1. Preheat oven to about 100°C.
  2. Remove any skin or excess fat from the meat.
  3. Slice the meat approximately 4mm thick (will thin out when baked)
  4. For cats you can then make strips of these slices.
  5. Set the strips on baking paper – for cats, sprinkle some dried catnip over the meat.
  6. Bake for 2-4 hours (depends on oven)
  7. Make sure the meat is hard and dry before removing from the oven.
  8. Serve
Sugar glider and rat owners! Remember, pouches and cage furnishings available at cost price while stocks last at Hoogland Dierekliniek!


Bunnies, chinchillas and guinea pigs love a little variety in life! Why not make your fluffies a dried leaf and flower salad to spice up their lives!
You can use herbs, garden plants or store bought greens. If using garden produce, please remember to ensure no pesticides have been used nearby or on the plants and that plants are not picked next to roads.

There are several ways to dry out leaves:
  • Leave them out on paper towel somewhere warm and dry – it may be a few days before they dry properly.
  • Lay them out outside and let the sunshine do the work.
  • Dehydrators work wonders!
  • You can dry leaves in an oven on the lowest heat setting, or better yet, save energy and just use the leftover heat after you’ve cooked something. It doesn’t take long (about 15minutes).
Here are some greens that are safe to use:
  • Green grass! Bunnies looooove this!
  • Nasturtium (Kappertjies)
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Hibiscus leaves and flowers
  • Willow leaves and twigs
  • Dandelion (Imported seeds better than indigenous-beware of false dandelion!)
  • Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)
  • Pea plants
  • Rose – NO pesticides!
  • Wild pansy (Viola tricolor ONLY!)
  • Chamomile and lavender
  • Parsley (Small amounts) and coriander
  • Sage, Rosemary, mint or Basil
  • Fennel
  • Strawberry/Raspberry/blackberry or blueberry leaves
  • Sunflower
  • Celery, beet and broccoli leaves
  • Radish or carrot tops
  • Oat and wheat grass
  • Bok choy, tatsoi and chinese cabbage
  • Radiccio
  • Endives
  • Kale and small amounts of spinach or swiss chard.
Give the dried mix as a treat alone, mix into the hay, use to stuff foraging toys or hide little bits around the cage to encourage natural foraging behaviour. 
For more info:
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