Barf Diet – Raw Dog Food
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Barf Diet – Raw Dog Food

Although the name is not appealing, B.A.R.F. means Bones And Raw Food or more simply Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet.

Why choose BARF diet?

You may want to choose BARF diet because many commercial dog foods may contain chemicals and preservatives to give the food a specific taste and make it last longer. It has also been proven that some commercial foods contain the following “ingredients”:

- chicken legs, beaks and feather

- cow blood, skin, hooves and testes

Some of these body parts contain a large amount of nitrogen and are counted for as crude nitrogen-proteins, in the protein content. The dog food thus appears to have a high content of proteins that are not well digested and assimilated by dogs.

Most commercial dog food contain high percentages of cereals (in worst cases between 60%-90%).

In addition, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and essential fatty acids are destroyed, damaged or transformed when cooked in the food process.

Many food producers also use beets that help give the feces a dark color and hard consistency.

(I must state that there are some manufacturers who produce excellent dog food)

Advantages of BARF diet?

Having discussed about the negative aspects of commercial dog food, I’d like to talk about the real and undiscussed advantages of switching to BARF diet.

- limits the formation of teeth tartar, controls breath problems helps keeping the teeth cleaner

- limits the dog’s body odor

- the dog is less infested by parasites and fleas

- stronger and healthier immune system

- less fat mass more flexible and stronger body muscles and less dog obesity

- amount of feces produced is reduced and less odorous

- better resistance to bone diseases (osteoarthritis, arthritis, etc..)

- the risk of stomach twisting is reduced

- beautiful, healthy and shiny hair

- less problems of diarrhea

- decreases dog allergies

- healthier nails

BARF diet

BARF diet myth busters

Dogs need carbohydrate in their diet

Most of you probably know that carbohydrates provide energy quickly and easily. However, glucose is needed by the body to maintain all the organs in good health, not carbohydrates. Glucose is produced from proteins through a process called gluconeogenesis, in which the amino acids (not fatty acids, which use a different cycle) are converted into glucose. The excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles and as fat in the body. However, since carbohydrates are not the only source of glycogen (which is derived from protein and fat through a process known as gluconeogenesis), they are not strictly necessary.

Small sized dogs cannot feed on BARF diet

Of all the dogs that need to follow a BARF diet, small dogs are perhaps those who need it most! The teeth of small dogs are closely packed, which makes them more susceptible to periodontal disease. With their teeth very close to each other, there is much room for bacteria and plaque to proliferate. Periodontal disease can develop very rapidly, causing harmful bacteria to enter the body. Periodontal diseases are much more than just bad breath; these diseases can in fact lead to systemic damage, in important organs such as kidneys and heart.

Different breeds need different diets

This is absolutely false! Unfortunately, this assumption that is only based on phenotypic difference, has been divulged by food industry and promoters of raw diets to create diets that are quite erroneous from a nutritional point of view and do not take into account the fact that all dogs, despite the different sizes and races, have the same internal anatomy and physiology as well as the same nutritional needs.

BARF diet is expensive and time consuming

The cost of a BARF diet depends on you. It may be more expensive of commercial food at the beginning, until you find a convenient supplier. But after some time it can be extremely cheap: since you can add variety to the diet, costs are lowered because your dog can eat different meats. This means you can buy food which is on special offer. Also, do not forget you won’t be seeing your local vet frequently and you won’t be spending money for teeth cleaning.

Here is some advice for making it easier and cheaper to prepare BARF diet food:

- Try and buy meat in large quantities from your local butcher, cooperatives, distributors of meat, etc.. A freezer used exclusively to store meat for your dog is not necessary, but it is an investment that certainly helps to cut costs, especially if you have more than one dog.

- Keep your eyes open for any deals or discounted prices you may find on meat.

- By meat that is about to expire and should be sold at a lower price. Your dog will not notice any flavour change and it and it will be digested more easily. If the meat expires the day after you buy it (it should be marked with the words “Reduced for Quick Sale”), it will still be good over the next few days or good to freeze.

- Try butchers, small animal breeders and farms in your area that can sell whole chickens, goats (whole or in pieces), lambs (whole or in pieces), pieces of beef, etc.

- Buy a large supply of freezer bags and pack each meal in a separate bag. This takes a great deal of work once a month, but after this job is done, for the rest of the month, all you will have to do is pull out the portion from the freezer and give it to the dog (you may want to defrost the pack by pulling it out of the freezer the night before). The nice thing about a raw diet is that you can adjust it to the needs of your dog and also to yours.

BARF diet is hard to digest

Dogs who eat raw foods make a third less of stools compared to those who eat kibble. This is an indication of high digestibility: lesser stools means better digestibility. BARF diets have a digestibility of 90-97% (including bones!), while most of the commercial foods have a digestibility of 40-70%. This explains why dogs who eat kibble produce more feces: most of it is undigested material such as cereals, also called “fiber”.

Eating BARF diet raw food will expose my dog harm parasites

Yes, there may be parasites in raw meat. But if you buy meat for human consumption the risk of parasites is very low. Most of the parasites are not a real problem and you can deal with them if you have a dog in good health. If you think your dog has parasites, make a stool or blood test. Also remember that it is possible to remove dog worms with both natural and allopathic systems. But in general a dog with a good immune system is able to deal with a parasite since parasites hate healthy bodies. Freezing meat helps kill many parasites (for example those found in salmon and which can be fatal for the dog). Freezing salmon, trout or similar foods for at least 24 hours is enough to kill all parasites.

BARF diet is not well balanced

Yes, meat-only diets are not balanced. You can not just feed meat to your dog and hope it is going to be okay. To receive all the correct nutrients, your dog also needs to feed on bones and organs. This means giving your dog a diet that is based on a whole prey. You must to give your dog vegetables and fruits which should be given alone or mixed with meat depending on the dog’s personal taste.

Wolves don’t live long because the feed on raw meat

The premise of this affirmation, which I believe to be completely wrong, is that the wolves’ diet may shorten its lifespan and therefore you should not feed your dogs using the BARF diet. It is true that wolves live less than dogs, but this has nothing to do with their food. Why would nature have selected a food that kills the animal that feed on it? The fact is that life in the wild is tough. The wolves have to face the outburst of nature and deal with its elements every day : heat, cold, rain, thunderstorms, blizzards, ice storms, etc. They also have to deal with the high energy expenditure that hunting large herbivores such as elk and deer involves. The wolves also encounter intraspecific competition for food with other wolves in addition to the inter-species with other species, such as bears, cougars and man. They face predation, loss of habitat, as well as a deterioration in the quality of habitat and food. These are the real reason why wolves live less than dogs.

BARF diet doesn’t meet the AAFCO standards

The AAFCO standards of the nutrient profiles have been established through a collaboration between researchers in the food industry, universities and regulatory commission (National Research Commission or NRC). These experts have made extensive researched on available data and have formulated nutrient profiles. These profiles have already been updated once and another update is planned in the future.

Some argue that the standards of AAFCO are the best ever, while others claim that they are “better than nothing”. These standards can give people a false sense of security about the food they are giving their animals. They think it is complete from a nutritional standpoint, when they might not be at all. In addition, the profiles of AAFCO have not been verified or repeated (one of the major principles of scientific research is that a method should be reproducible and the results verifiable). There are no studies that prove the adequacy or inadequacy of these values. (for detailed information please consult Alternative Feeding Practices by Susan Wynn)

BARF diet will cause my dog to be aggressive

How can a diet make a dog aggressive and bloodthirsty? Dog are carnivorous predators by nature. A dog that chases other animals (with or without the intention of killing them) is just being what it should be: a dog. Giving raw meat will not turn your dog into a kind of malicious animal that will attack any living being in motion.

People find it hard to understand that dogs are carnivorous predator. It is in their nature to have the “taste for blood” and to hunt for food. Dogs need meat in their diet, they are carnivorous! With the domestication of livestock and the introduction of smaller pets, hunting and predation have become undesirable characteristics.

Dog are predators by nature and chase animals because it is in their nature to behave this way and not because they are aggressive or attracted by blood from a human point of view. Giving raw meat will not change anything. If the dog is satisfied with the meat and bones it eats home, why should it go around killing other animals? It has no reason to do it.

Dogs that attack people and cause them major injuries, behave so because either because they have been trained to do so or because they have some behavioural issue.

BARF diet plan

Because each dog is different, when you switch to BARF diet you will have to observe your dog well and if necessary, change the diet to meet your dog’s needs. There are dogs who initially can not digest raw meat and bones while others do not like vegetables or meat offal. The following BARF diet plan must be used as reference and guideline only.

When feeding your dog it is better to give large chunks of meat attached to the bone. This stimulates the chewing process which is very important for the hygiene of the teeth. Do not mix the meat with the grain, which can cause swelling. This means that if you do want to feed your dog cereals, you should feed it twice a day. This is for 2 reasons: 1 – because it’s better to feed the ingredients separately. 2 – because the risk of stomach torsion is reduced when the meals are divided.

Once a week, the dog should eat only cereals or vegetables, followed by a day on an empty stomach. So: 5 days per week meat, a meat-free day and a day on an empty stomach. If the dog does not tolerate fasting, once a week without meat can be enough. Vegetables can be prepared separately or with meat. There are dogs who do not like to eat only vegetables: in this case, you can mix the vegetables with minced meat, with tuna or centrifuged liver.


- oats

- barley

- mile

- amaranth

- Buckwheat

- rice

- rye

- Wheat bran

- Coconut flakes

- Durum wheat or cornflakes

- Goat’s milk

- yogurt

- Cottage cheese


- salad of any kind type

- carrots

- zucchini

- broccoli

- dandelion

- nettle

- celery

- potatoes (cooked)

- fresh pumpkin

- yellow and green squash

- peppers (red and yellow)

- alfalfa sprouts

- beets

- kale

- dandelions

- yams

- asparagus

- green beans

- turnips

In general the more green the better. Avoid raw potatoes, onions, garlic and avocado. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts every once in awhile for they might cause gas.


- Beef: lean meat, heart, spleen, kidney, tripe, liver, throat, head meat, all the bones (especially the softer ones)

- Lamb / goat / horse / game meals: same as beef

- Whole chicken

- Fish – whole fish only raw

- Egg – with the shell, raw

- Offal – only one to two times a week

- Liver about 200g to 300g (for a dog of 30 kg)

- Tripe once or twice per week (the green one)

- Seared Pork only


- apples

- bananas

- pears

- plums

- oranges

- grapes

- kiwi

Vitamins and supplements to add to the BARF diet

- Vitamin C: up to 100 mg per day in case of illness

- Vitamin K1: 5-20 drops in case of illness

- Vitamin E: 20 to 80 mg 3 or 4 times a week

- Vitamin B Complex

other supplements

- seaweed meal

- once a week a teaspoon of sea salt (or less depending on the size of your dog)

- fish oil

- Hemp seed oil

- flax seed oil

- olive oil

- cod liver oil (Vitamin A and D): 1 teaspoon 1 or 2 times a week, especially in winter

Please consult your local vet for any vitamins or supplements you feed your dog

Quantities suggested by BARF diet

The general rule is that the dog should be fed a portion of food that does not exceed 2-3% of their ideal body weight as an adult. So a 80 pound dog should eat about 2 pounds of food per day. This rule, however, is just to give you a basic idea, as the demand for food will be effective to dog’s physical activity its type of metabolism. The general rule is: the dog is skinny – feed it more, the dog is fat- feed it less.

Steps to follow to put your dog on the BARF diet

If you are ready to change your dogs diet and switch to BARF diet, here are a few tips.

The best thing is to change abruptly, without mixing commercial dog food with the BARF diet.

Start slowly! but once you start, give your dog ONE FOOD for a minimum period of 1 week to a maximum of 10-15 days.

Choose one protein source, such as chicken, and feed ONLY CHICKEN for this period. Then you can start with vegetables mixed with meat offal, or with minced chicken meat. After about 15 days start to introduce another protein source such as beef. For a week then serve only chicken, beef and vegetables. Continue doing so, introducing a new food every week. Wait for at least 1 month before adding any type of supplements. At first you might encounter some problems: for example your dog may vomit small pieces of bone, have diarrhea for some days. It perfectly normal for the beginning stage, since your dog’s body has to get used to the BARF diet and the raw food: do not panic and especially do not switch back to commercial food.

Once you see your dog extremely excited to eat, dancing when you prepare the food, you will know you took the right decision.

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