People have a lot of fears when it comes to starting the BARF feeding. Some of them are afraid of bowel obstruction, others are terrified of an alleged aggressiveness and others are worried that the diet does not include all the nutrients that their dog needs. However, generally speaking, the initial stage of the transfer onto the new diet goes smoothly. If you feel insecure about it, the best way to learn about BARF is to ask help from a friend who is familiar with the BARF feeding. If you don’t have a friend who knows about the BARF feeding, you can rely on the literature about BARF, or participate in online discussions, as long as you remember filter and cross-check the information and advice you are given. Also, the resellers of raw food are very happy to help you.
The idea of BARF is that the dog’s nutrition consists mainly of raw bones and cartilage. The proportion of the main ingredients should be around 60-75% whereas the rest should consist of organs, vegetables, and fruit. All advocates of raw food for pets agree that the diet should be based on raw meaty bones (RMB). The basic principle of RMBis that the meat and bones are served together, in their natural form to promote the ripping, tearing, gnarling and chewing. There are parts with a greater ratio of bone and there are meatier parts. Since feeding whole carcasses is part of the philosophy, feeding all the parts, meaty and bony will pretty much even things out. If your pet is large enough to eat a whole carcass, or half (chicken for instance), that would be the perfect bone to meat ratio. Bones should make about 5-15% of the diet and the meat 60-75%.
Internal organs: Offal is an excellent natural source of many nutrients your pet needs, and would naturally eat. The internal organs are too rich (especially the liver) and, therefore, should only make 5-10% of the diet.
Fruit and vegetables: Since other carnivores in the wild tend to also eat the stomach contents of their herbivore prey together other food they can scrape, it is agreed that table scraps or fruit and veggies should make the rest 15-25% of the dogs’ diet. These provide a wide range of minerals and other nutrients less common in meat and contribute to an overall balanced diet.
We are constantly bombarded with the notion that a diet should be balanced and should contain all the nutrients a pet needs. While the notion is correct, it is important that this balance does not have to stand the test on a daily basis (as “dog food” ads claim). If that were true, fasting, which is highly recommended, would be unacceptable. The wild animal’s body (including the domesticated wild ones) is perfectly capable of creating that balance with an irregular diet. Balance should be looked at, over a period of weeks. As long as the right ingredients were fed in the right quantities in the overall time frame, the so-called balance is achieved.
The recommended proportions for a balanced diet consist of:
- 60–75% meat
- 5–15% bones
- 5–10% organs (offal, liver, heart)
- 15–25% vegetables (and fruit)
If you follow the above-mentioned ratio between the bone and the meat which is from at least three different animals, the diet will provide your dog everything needed. In this sense, the dog will do just fine with the meat of chicken, beef, and lamb. The larger variety is not harmful to the dog. Quite the contrary, it is both - beneficial and necessary.
Dogs need about 20 minerals. Minerals have 3 important functions:
- As building blocks of bone (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium)
- As soluble salts controlling the balance of liquids (sodium chloride in blood, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus in the cells of the body)
- As parts of enzymes and of other proteins (e.g. iron in hemoglobin).
Calcium and Phosphorus are two basic minerals
Calcium is mainly found in bones and in dairy products. Its main function is the formation of bones, of nerves, and of muscles. Calcium deficiency results in poor growth. An excess of calcium intake has also adverse effects, namely, the deformation of bones.
Phosphorus is found in meat, bones and dairy products. It contributes to the formation of bones and in the utilization of energy. Phosphorus insufficiency results in rickets while an excess of phosphorus intake is associated with similar symptoms as calcium deficiency, namely, poor growth.
Calcium and phosphorus work together contributing to the correct skeletal growth of the dog. The correct proportion of calcium to phosphorus is 1.2 parts of calcium for every 1 part of phosphorus (1.2:1).
Dairy products: Puppies lose the ability to digest the lactose that is contained in their mother’s milk immediately after they are weaned. Importantly, cow’s milk is not suitable for dogs since it causes serious diarrhea in both puppies and adult dogs and, thus, it should not be given to them. In contrast, fermented dairy products (yogurt, cheese) do not constitute a problem since the lactic acid bacteria contained in them assimilate lactose. Yogurt and kefir contain probiotics (living microbial elements) that improve the microbial balance of the intestine.
The key to correct nutrition is a balanced diet; when the correct diet is combined with the correct exercise regime, the result is a healthy-looking dog with a good physical condition.
Let’s get started
First of all, get rid of the plastic bowls. Plastic bowls are prone to developing cracks and crevices that can harbor unhealthy bacteria for your furry friend. We recommend stainless steel bowls. Stainless steel is widely accepted as one of the safest food and water containers (for both pets and humans).
When you switch from dry food to BARF, your dog may react negatively at the beginning. This is because it has to get used to a new diet, or a dog may react simply because the composition of BARF is different from dry food and it takes some time before the body cleans itself of the waste from other types of food. In rare cases, dogs vomit up pieces of bone that they failed to digest.
Some dogs may also get diarrhea while others get constipated when you begin BARF feeding. A dog can also begin moulting even if it is not the time to change its coat. As a rule, these symptoms go away in a week. 9 times out of 10 we recommend that you do a quick transition to BARF with your pet where you do not feed him or her for 12-24 hours after their last meal, and then feed them with BARF food.