Barf Dog Diet – Benefits And Risks

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Feeding a dog is easy. All you have to do is to go to the nearest local pet shop, buy commercial food and serve it to your dod. But there is another way to feed your dog. Like with raw meat and vegetable. BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food and presents an alternative raw diet type for adult dogs. Discover what are the benefits and downsides of this feeding style.

Barf Dog Diet is the most common and popular raw diet for dogs. BARF or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet is designed to provide dogs with a diet that consists of raw muscle meat and raw meaty bones. This diet includes fruits as well as vegetables. The main trait of this diet is that it eliminates all processed foods.

What Is The BARF Diet For Dogs?

Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet or BARF is one of the most popular raw diets that are practiced today. Moreover, the popularity of raw diet grows every single day. A diet which emphasizes raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables is slowly but surely reaches its peak.

A raw diet is a standard when it comes to feeding sled dogs and racing greyhounds. These dogs have long eaten raw food diets. However, stretching those feeding practices to domestic and family pet is a recent idea. Feeding your pet with a portion of raw food was introduced by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst, in 1993.

Billinghurst stated that adult dogs only thrive in their natural feeding style. Basically, they thrive on a portion of food that they ate before they became domesticated, meaning: vegetable scraps, meaty bones, and raw meat. He specifically stated that grain-based commercial pet food was harmful to a dog’s health.

However, many mainstream veterinarians disagree on this statement, including the FDA. The main argument for this disagreement lies in numerous claims that raw diet comes with a set of different risks. In addition, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is formally against this type of feeding or raw food in general.

Their official statement is: “The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans.”

However, if you insist on changing your dog’s diet you should take into consideration both benefits and downsides when it comes to feeding your dog raw diet.

Is The BARF Diet Safe For Dogs?

Dog owners want only the best when it comes to their canine’s health. Healthy dog means active dog, and active dog is a happy dog that will live long. The first step is always a crucial one. So, the first step that enables you to achieve that goal is to feed your dog a nutritious and balanced diet.

So, what about raw food?

The best thing that you could do it to talk to your veterinarian. In these cases, your veterinarian is your best friend, as she will be familiar with your dog’s health history and nutritional needs based on his health history, lifestyle, health and exercise level. Also, make sure that your veterinarian has real experience with a raw food diet.

Also, bear in mind that feeding your dog with raw food is much more time consuming than giving him commercially made dog food. Exact care is mandatory in handling, preparation, and sanitation of raw food. Furthermore, a raw food is more expensive than a processed kibble diet.

Overall, raw food diet is not recommended in homes with small children, due to the health risk raw food can present. The biggest fear when it comes to raw dog diet is salmonela and E-coli, campylobacter, and/or listeria.

Therefore, it is up to you to choose what are the good sides of BARF and if you are ready to emerge into this feeding adventure.

How Much Should I Feed My Dog On A Raw Diet?

Before you start thinking about the proper dosage of a raw diet, you need to learn what makes raw food.

A raw dog food diet typically consists of:

Some BARF supporters claim that the main benefits are seen in shinier coats and healthier skin in the first place. Moreover, dental health is improved, while the energy level goes up. In addition, your canine will have smaller stools.

Good to know: The recommended guidelines for a BARF diet consists of 70% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ, 7% vegetables, 2% seeds or nuts, and 1% fruit.

How Do I Start My Dog On A Raw Diet?

If you are sure that you want to put your dog on a raw diet you need to be ready for some transition time. Transitioning your dog from dry food to raw is a slow process. The best way to do this transition is to create a firm schedule and transition plan. For example, if your dog can’t handle 1/2 serving, you should go back to 1/4 serving for another day or more if necessary before you move forward.

Important: Raw diet is only safe for dogs 12 weeks and older.

  • Day 1:Give you canine only water, no food.
  • Day 2:Keep the balance between raw and regular diet, in the following proportion: 1/4 of raw and 3/4 of regular diet.
  • Day 3:Keep the balance between raw and regular diet, in the following proportion: 1/2 of raw and 1/2 of regular diet.
  • Day 4:Keep the balance between raw and regular diet, in the following proportion: 3/4 of raw and 1/4 of regular diet.
  • Day 4:Keep the balance between raw and regular diet, in the following proportion: 3/4 of raw and 1/4 of regular diet.
  • Day 5: Full raw diet.

You can serve your dog two meals per day: one in the morning and one in the evening.

Raw Feeding Myths

You have probably heard about many different stories when it comes to a raw diet. Those stories may sound even scary, so many people call them myths. The most common myths are including the following sayings.


Myth: Raw feeding makes pet become aggressive toward humans
Fact: There is no recorded data that raw diet can result in aggressive behavior in dogs. But, feeding an improperly balanced raw diet has a negative impact on serotonin in the brain and it can result in aggressive behavior.


Myth: Raw meat makes pets bloodthirsty and feed’s their need to kill animals.
Fact: Pets, cats and dogs are natural hunters and hunt is what they do. Also, some breeds have a higher drive to hunt and kill, while others not. Prey drive is a combo of pet’s behavior, obedience training, and breed genetics.


Myth: My pet will get salmonella.
Fact: Salmonella can only survive in conditions with higher pH (4-8+) and requires at least 12 hours to reach incubation. Carnivore’s stomach has a protective enzyme against pathogens, that’s named hydrochloric.

Their stomach, together with their digestive system is short and lacks complexity. Moreover, bacteria passes within 4-6 hours as waste. Luckily, the time to complete digestion is very short and bacteria don’t stay in the body for long.


Myth: Raw bones pose a choking risk
Myth: Dog’s love bones. And any bone can cause a choking risk if your dog doesn’t chew it correctly or the bone is too big. Actually, cooked bones are more risk than raw bones. Cooked bone seem more crispy. This causes the bone to split which can cause severe problems if swallowed.


Myth: My dog is not a wolf
Myth: Dogs don’t look like wolves anymore. Unless you have one of those breeds that look like wolfs even today. However, anatomically they are more similar than you may think. That means that your dog can survive on most of the food that your wolf needs to eat.

Furthermore, if you take a look at a dog’s anatomy, you can see that it is designed to eat meat.

Should I Switch My Dog To A BARF Diet?

This is highly dependent on your personal preferences and decisions. Pet-parents are going more and more for a raw diet. After all, each pet owner wants a long and healthy life for their pets. If you are not sure if the raw diet is the perfect solution for you and your dog needs you should do your homework. Learn everything that’s available out there on a BARF diet and a raw diet in general.

Introducing your dog to raw food slowly, bite by bite. Be prepared that transition from regular, commercial food to raw is a slow process that requires time, patience and knowledge.

Therefore, make sure that you have awareness on both sides of the topic when it comes to BARF and than have a serious conversation with your dog’s veterinarian. After all, your veterinarian wants the same thing for your dog as you do – a healthy and happy dog.