An Introduction to the BARF Diet for Dogs

The BARF diet is an acronym that stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Foods. This growing dietary trend provides many health and nutrition benefits for your dog. There are several ways to introduce this feeding alternative and some of them are very convenient.

BARF = Bones and Raw Foods

The true BARF diet is exactly what the acronym says: bones and raw meat. Typically, up to 80 percent of the diet is raw, meaty bones such as chicken necks, backs and wings or beef bones. The remainder of the diet is composed of fruits and vegetables, eggs and dairy foods.

Warning: Do not feed your dog cooked bones: cooking makes them brittle and can cause choking or damage to the digestive tract.

A more convenient alternative to a true BARF diet is the freeze-dried alternative. Nutritionally complete and easy to feed, these foods come with feeding instructions, so there is no guesswork involved. Freeze-dried foods are easy to store, lightweight and not subject to spoilage.

BARF Diet Easily Digested

Typical dry dog foods contain a large amount of low-quality filler ingredients. These empty calories are often the source of food allergies or sensitivities and they contribute to digestive upsets, skin problems and weight gain. In contrast, the BARF diet provides food in its most natural state.

In the wild, dogs do not eat cooked meats or grains. The enzymes present in raw meats and bones offer your dog the highest levels of nutrition in a highly digestible form.

Is Raw Food Safe?

Your dog's stomach and digestive tract can tolerate many foods that humans cannot, but it is important to take some simple precautions to ensure the best possible results for your dog.

Raw Feeding Tips

  • Buy meats from a trusted source. If possible, purchase organic, free-range chicken and human-quality grass fed ground beef, liver, tongues, hearts, knuckles and tails.
  • Don't leave portions out for more than thirty minutes. Remove uneaten portions and refrigerate it for later use. Use uneaten portions within twenty-four hours.
  • When preparing raw food meals, freeze portions in amounts suitable for single-day use and defrost daily. As you use a daily portion, remove the next day's serving and thaw it in the refrigerator.
  • Add a probiotic supplement to your dog's daily ration to assist digestion. Plain yogurt can be used if it contains live active cultures.
  • After preparing or serving raw food, wash your hands and clean and disinfect all kitchen surfaces.

The BARF diet is a healthy choice for your dog or puppy. When transitioning to a raw food diet, do so gradually. Your dog will need time to adjust to the new food. Add raw food ingredients over a 1 week period, increasing the amount of raw ingredients each day.