BARF Diet For Dogs - What Is It?

At last it seems that the BARF Diet for dogs is becoming more referred to as a dog food option, although I would hazard a guess that in many cases further information is rarely sought, or acted upon!

Certainly, from my experiences, it appears many will not consider the BARF Diet feeding option as it means some effort to find out more, or their vet has the dog on a "prescription" diet, which in turn is purchased from the vet!

I don't blame the owners, they are comfortable with what they think is "professional" advice - veterinarian Dr Ian Billinghurst is proof that vets can get it wrong, but at least he is now a voice to right the wrong!!

I do blame the vets as they seem reluctant to accept the findings of many other "published" vets, which are that dog food ingredients need far more understanding by the animal health profession.

What is BARF?

It is an acronym that is more readily promoted these days as Biologically Appropriate Raw Food although in my first encounter it was known more as Bones And Raw Food. There is also a definition which is Born Again Raw Feeders!

To me the Barf Diet for dogs comes down the simple act of not feeding cooked or processed food.

BARF Diet followers can also be divided as to whether vegetables should be included in the food given, and then there is the question on supplements also.

These days a lot of credit is given to Dr. Ian Billinghurst of Australia for the BARF food concept, although the Raw Meaty Bones lobby group (also of Australia) will argue that Dr. Billinghurst plundered the groups reasonings for returning to raw meaty bones as food.

It matters not who is right because now we have two opinions to consider with the Raw Meaty Bones advocate, Dr Tom Lonsdale, having also written a couple of books on the subject.

I do find it a shame that Dr Lonsdale tries to discredit Dr Billinghurst's views as I would have thought any person, or persons, that is trying to get dog owners to consider the INGREDIENTS, and QUALITY, of the commercial food they are feeding their dog is supporting a common cause!

It may well be that Dr. Billinghurst also found other opinions that enhanced the concept for him, as he does mention being inspired by Juliette de Bairacli-Levy and others.

You can use the links below for further information on these two people and Raw Meaty Bones.

Perhaps it is these other opinions that has seen Dr. Billinghursts' preference to include vegetables in his recommended BARF Diet for dogs, which is at odds with the lobby group thinking.

I understand the "vegetable" inclusion.

If we are trying to give our dog a menu as close as we can to their "ancestors", who hunted, then it is fair to assume that in most cases the ancestor would have got some form of vegetation benefit from the stomach, and intestines, of their "kill".

Many small or baby animals, such as rabbits, lambs or calves, that would have been prey, are green foliage eaters.

No matter who is right the basic principle of a BARF Diet is that the food is not cooked or processed.

I am also pleased to say that the BARF diet feeding style has been tested and adopted by the Guide Dogs Association in Queensland Australia and you can use the following link to view their testimonial (opens new window)

Go here for your complete guide and recipes

The Mix.

In the typical BARF Diet for dogs the recipe is made up from 60-80% of raw meaty bones, which are defined as having meat of 50% on them, i.e. chicken necks, chicken wings or back, but the diet is not confined to solely chicken meat and bones.

Any "soft" bones are acceptable, and by that it is meant any bones that the dog can easily break down as they eat their meal, or chew on the bone.

Bones mentioned on Dr Ian Billinghurst's website are; chicken necks wings frames and carcasses, lamb flaps, beef brisket, soft pork bones, Kangaroo tail, oxtail and Dr B finishes off that list with "etc.".

If in doubt grind the bone into a ground down format.

ANY form of COOKED BONE should NOT be given, EVER!

Not even little ones!! Splintering is often given as the main reason but cooking changes the whole complexity of the bone structure, and the nutrients, which will be to the dogs disadvantage.

It is true that in some cases some splintering can occur with raw fresh bones but the dogs digestive system is designed to cope with raw bone, but it cannot handle cooked bone in the same manner.

Fruit, leafy vegetable, offal, meat, eggs and dairy food make up the remaining 20 to 40%.

Food, especially the vegetables, needs to be fresh, not rotting, and of human grade.


Apparently supplements are added to counteract effects of the overuse of antibiotics and hormone treatments that are used in the growing or rearing of todays food.

I guess supplements are also a good "safety net" for anything that might be missing in the BARF home made food you would be giving!

There is a product on the market by the name of Canine Daily Nutritional Supplement, from the company Veterinary Nutrition Essentials, that carries Dr Ian Billinghurst's endorsement.

If you are giving the right mix of meat and vegetables / fruit then I doubt supplements are required - I do not use supplements in my homemade BARF if that helps!

Fruit and Vegetables.

Not all fruit or vegetables are suitable for your dog. For example corn is not easily digested by dogs. Grapes and raisins are toxic to them.

It is also perhaps best to discard the very outer leaves of vegetables, unless the supplier has already "trimmed" them, as that is where most chemical build up would be.

D.I.Y. or not?

It is not really that hard to "Do It Yourself" for a BARF Diet.

I do use this feeding method for my dogs as part of the variety of the food that I give them.

It may seem it a bit daunting but honestly it is not that hard. Once I got into a routine it became easier, and quicker, as time went by.

In fact it was quite rewarding to know that I was taking complete control of what my dogs were eating, and also, of course, to the quality of the ingredients used!

Also Ideal For Dogs Without Teeth!

My eldest dog is toothless but easily handles his BARF. You can make (or buy) the mix at a consistency where no chewing is required but your dog will still be getting a very high quality food intake.

A canine dental specialist removed all of my eldest dogs teeth, because he had an allergy to the plaque on his teeth which was causing him huge discomfort. There is no cure through medication.

He can no longer munch and tuck into kibble, but his BARF is not a problem for him!

Why not give the BARF Diet a try - you've got nothing to loose but your dog may have plenty to gain!

Have a look at further information available by using the follwing link (new window opens)

Recipes and more BARF information here.

Some Tips.

I found that when I prepared my own "pattie mix" of ingredients, i.e. the meat combined with the vegetables, was only suitable for use at the time of preparation - or at the latest the next day, providing it was kept in a suitable sealed container, and refrigerated straight away.

You do not have to give the "patties" every day. I would give them for the two days then again 2, 3, or 4 days later. No set pattern. As I have mentioned my dogs get a variety of foods, and BARF is part of that variety.

Do not take the risk of buying raw "dog meat" from pet shops as they may be adding preservatives to extend shelf life, or chemical enhancers to give the meat a good red looking color. In fact I also steer away from butchers "pet" meat, just in case they may also be tempted do the same!

Many butchers will have mince that is stated as being "preservative free" and that should be your preference, as well as if there is a "lean" option.

Specialist chicken outlets, and sometimes large chain food stores, will often run heavily reduced prices on chicken wings and necks. Also I found an extremely cost effective (read cheap!) chicken "casserole" mix that had virtually every cut of meat, except necks, that made sense to bulk buy and freeze at home.

I was not happy with the suggested ocassional fasting - so I did not bother to do it!

Ready Made Versions.

Whilst the D.I.Y. is a very satisfying way of feeding your dog time does not always allow us to do it in that manner, so here are a couple of links to "ready made" BARF Diet style foods that will allow you to feed a great variety to your dog.

Hard to beat and 8 varieties.

Use this image link for further information on product and to buy online.

Another option for your consideration. Again view further details and buy online by selecting image link of product.

From the links below I would suggest you read my profiles on, and then maybe buy the reasonably priced books written by, Dr. Ian Billinghurst and Juliette de Bairacli-Levy, for a well rounded view on the concept of a BARF Diet.

Those books will also give insight as to you what ingredients you can use for making your dog food.

To get started now use this link.

A complete guide and recipes for BARF diet

My dogs love their BARF Diet and I am very comfortable in knowing that quality human grade ingredients are the main base of their feeding regime - they are as healthy as can be, and it's great peace of mind for me.

An important point about changing your dog’s food.

Diet changes must be done gradually to avoid discomfort to your dog.

When you change either the quality, or style, of your dog’s food you need to do so over a number of days to allow the dog’s system to adapt.

Your dogs' large intestine bacteria becomes accustomed to a certain level of PH within the intestine and any abrupt diet change will trigger a reaction from that bacteria to the intestinal lining to release water, and bring the PH back into the previous balance.

This results in your dog having stomach ache plus diarrhea, or extremely loose stools, and a reluctance to eat.

I would suggest the following 7 day example as a minimum changeover plan, because if you can do it over a longer period it is even better.

DAY (1) Add 10% of new food with 90% old style / quality. DAY (2) Put 15% new with 85% old. On DAY(3) it is 25% new and 75% old then on DAY(4) new becomes 40% and old is 60%. Follow this on DAY(5) with 60% new and 40% old and DAY(6) will become 80% new with 20% old and on DAY(7) the switch is complete with 100% new food.

To go to Dr. Ian Billinghurst's BARF click here

To go to Dr. Tom Lonsdale's RMB click here

To go to Juliette de Bairacli - Levy click here

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