BARFing has become increasingly popular in recent years. Because of unsafe dog food production and allergies, intolerances and modern diseases in dogs, many pet owners have been switching to fresh preparation of dog food. Raw feeding has become very trendy! Today we will introduce you to the topic of BARF diet for dogs and explain whether BARF is healthy for your dog. We will lay out the pros and cons in switching to raw feeding and what you need to pay attention to when compiling the menu.
What is BARFing for dogs?
The term BARF was coined by the American Debbie Tripp. The original meaning was “Born-Again Raw Feeders,” and aimed at “rebirthing” the dog’s original diet. The BARF diet stands for two common phrases: ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’ and ‘Bones and Raw Food,’ guided by the nutrition of animals in the wild, for dogs by their descent from the wolf. Both wolf and dog are meat eaters (carnivores). The basis of BARFing is raw meat, offal and bone, supplemented by fresh or cooked vegetables and fruits, herbs and oils. This natural nutrition is then further adapted to fit the needs of the individual animal. An alternative to raw feeding is cooking, a method that is also gaining popularity. The cooked meat is then combined with cooked vegetables, fresh fruit and nutrient-rich oils and herbs.
Is BARFing healthy?
Many pet owners are wondering if BARFing is really healthy, and there has been a lot of consistently positive feedback. After switching to raw feeding, pet owners report that the dogs appear more vital, healthier and they suffer less from flatulence, gastrointestinal disorders and allergies. Teeth and gums also benefit from raw food, as chewing activity is stimulated and the dog’s natural dental care is supported. Another advantage of BARFing: the risk of a stomach rotation is significantly reduced because the dog’s organism uses the incoming nutrients faster and more effectively.
Whether BARF is healthy for your dog depends largely on the extent to which daily feeding is tailored to the needs of your four-legged friend. Too much animal protein and too few minerals and vitamins can quickly lead to an over- or undersupply in the dog’s body. Deficiencies that go untreated can cause illnesses in your dog.
How do you BARF properly?
The most important factor is the correct composition of the BARF menu. The main ingredient in a correct BARF diet is meat, complemented by offal, bones and occasionally fish. While bones secure the supply of important minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, offal provides a lot of iron, B vitamins, vitamin K and selenium. Fish is an important supplier of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids support your furry friend’s cell formation as well as coat and skin health, and they can also be provided through high-quality salmon oil such as our AniForte Salmon Oil. Another great option is the AniForte BARF Line Premium feed oil.
The composition and amount of food should be based on the nature and activity of your dog. Is your friend very active, has a lot of fun and really enjoys fast sprints? Or is he more of a cozy couch potato?
With normal physical activity, a dog should consume about 3% of its own body weight in food per day. For dogs that have physically and mentally demanding tasks, such as hunting and herding, the energy requirement and need for food is correspondingly higher.
Composition of raw feed for dogs
- 80% meat (this also includes offal, blood and bones)
- 20% vegetables and fruit
- as an additive: natural oils and herbs
A ratio of 70% meat to 30% fruit and vegetables is also acceptable and particularly suitable for calmer and older dogs. A meat content below 70% may cause a significant imbalance in the dog’s protein supply. Proteins are required for body maintenance and for the new formation of tissues such as muscles, bones, connective tissue, skin and hair. You should only consider feeding less than 70% meat if your dog has a disease that requires less meat content.
The downsides of BARFing
Do not exclusively rely on meat when BARFing as that can lead to absorption of far too much protein. Too little offal, fruit and vegetables can trigger a lack of nutrients. Studies have shown that dogs receiving not enough liver and vegetables had a vitamin A / β-carotene deficit. In addition, fresh fruit and vegetables provide important minerals for your four-legged friend.
If you are not sure about your dog’s mineral supply, you can supplement the BARF menu with a mineral mix.
When feeding fresh vegetables, keep in mind that your dog’s stomach cannot break down the cell walls of plant-based food, preventing the dog’s body from utilising the nutrients optimally. Thus, fresh vegetables should be pureed or lightly pre-cooked before feeding. AniForte provides a great alternative in the form of Vegetable flakes. They consist of dried fruit and vegetables and only need to be soaked in warm water for a few minutes before feeding. This makes them particularly practical and easy to prepare.
Pros and Cons of Raw Feeding
- an intact immune system
- the dog is less smelly
- fewer parasite infestations
- shiny coat and healthy skin
- good usability of the individual components creates a smaller amount of faeces
- improved muscle structure
- relief from arthritic diseases
- less inflammation in the body
- growth problems are reduced
- the risk of stomach rotation is significantly reduced
- fewer tartar and gum problems from more chewing on the food
- relief for the metabolic organs
- you have full control over the composition of the feed - especially important for dogs with allergies and food intolerances
- flexible choice of ingredients
- hardly any loss of nutrients because everything is freshly prepared
- no unnecessary additives
- possible initial pickiness with the raw food, the dog needs to be introduced to BARFing
- BARF meat needs to be stored in the freezer
- risk of infections with parasites, bacteria and viruses, so thorough hygiene in the kitchen is mandatory
- oversupply or deficiency of nutrients, especially during the dog’s growth phase can cause possible developmental disorders
BARF meat – what is suitable for BARFing?
Almost any meat is suitable for BARFing as an animal source of protein. The most commonly fed meat is beef, followed by poultry, horse, rabbit, lamb and game. Of course, these types of meat can also be combined. However, you shouldn’t experiment too much, because with a potential intolerance to any particular source of meat, you need to be able to switch to meat that hasn’t been fed to the dog.
However, what should never be fed to dogs when BARFing is pork - both from wild boar and domestic pig. Raw pork can transmit the Aujeszky virus, a type of herpes virus. While the virus isn’t dangerous for humans, an infection in dogs or cats can lead to death within a few days. If you still want to feed pork to your dog, cook it thoroughly first.
You should also be careful when feeding bones. Chicken necks, duck carcass and veal cartilage are particularly suitable. They are soft and can be chewed well even by small dogs. Your dog will also be happy with large fleshy bones, where he can nibble for long periods of time.
If your dog does not have any bones in his BARF meal, you need to add a calcium preparation, for example our Eggshell Powder.
However, when feeding bones be careful not to offer too much at once. More than 10 grams of bone per kilogram of body weight per day can lead to constipation and bone faeces in your dog, and in the worst case, even intestinal perforation can occur.
Other supplements should be individually tailored to the needs of your furry friend. For example, you could add Green Lipped Mussel Powder to help with joint problems.
Frequently used BARF meats
- Beef, lamb, goat, horse, game, rabbit: muscle meat, heart, kidney, rumen, leaf stomach, liver, throat, head meat, all bones, especially the softer ones such as sternum
- Poultry: whole chickens, necks, backs, peeled eggs
- Fish: whole raw fish
- and of course vegetables and herbs
- never feed raw pork! (Aujeszky virus)
Not sure about BARFing?
If you would like to switch your pet to a BARF diet, it is advisable to start by creating a BARF feeding plan, especially for the beginning. You can either do your own research or consult your veterinarian. Our veterinary practitioners can also help you to put together the BARF menu for your furry friend correctly. Contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org - we are here to support you!