BARF Diet for Dogs: Benefits, Percentages, and Disadvantages

Luis Dogalyo
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Food is a fundamental part in the development and welfare of our dog, therefore, choosing the type of nutrition you give to your dog is an important decision to make.

Since a few years ago there is a trend that bets for feeding our dogs with natural food, replacing the kibble or feed balls.

Below we explain in detail what the BARF diet is and what are its benefits. If you are really concerned about the feeding of your companion, there is nothing more natural than this type of food.

Dog food can be the most convenient, since it does not require more effort than filling the feeding trough of our animals. But of course, no matter how high the quality of the feed, it will never be the most suitable for their biology. A food without moisture and so processed should never be the basis of the feeding of our dogs.

What is the BARF diet for dogs?

The B.A.R.F. Diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) consists of feeding dogs, cats, and other domestic animals a diet composed of raw food, which means "Biologically Appropriate Raw Food".

What are the BARF diet percentages?

Origins and composition of the BARF diet

We must remember that the dog is a direct descendant of the wolf. Matured and socialized for centuries, it evolved into what we know today as dogs or companion animals.

On that basis, veterinarian Ian Billinghurst developed this type of diet, which is basically composed of raw meaty bones (with more than 50% meat), lean meat, organs and offal, and fruits and vegetables.

Benefits of the BARF diet for your dog

Among the benefits of the natural diet you will notice:

  • Increased energy and vitality.
  • Eating raw food also helps prevent bad breath in dogs caused by bacteria.
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Elimination of dental problems and oral cleanliness
  • Disappearance of skin problems and ear infections
  • Improvement and sometimes disappearance of arthritis and joint problems.
  • Increased hydration
  • Increased resistance to internal and external parasites, etc.

BARF Diet Percentages (approximate)

To calculate the approximate daily ration that your dog should eat, we must take into account his current weight, his ideal weight (in case he is overweight), age, and the amount of daily exercise he does.

Amount recommended on the current/ideal weight

Normal adult dog 2,50%
Adult sporting Dog 3%
Puppy 2-4 months 10%
Puppy 4-6 months 8%
Puppy 6-8 months 6%
Puppy 8-10 months 4%
Puppy 10-12 months 3%

The daily dose ranges from 1.5 to 10% of the animal's body weight depending on its age and activity level.

The amounts in percentages of the BARF diet are:

  • 60% meat and meaty bones
  • 15% vegetables and greens
  • 10% viscera and organs
  • 5% fruit

In small quantities you can add some complements such as algae, kefir, fish oil, natural yogurt, green tripe, etc.

Generally more food should be given to: puppies, small or mini breeds, those dogs that are underweight and those with a high level of activity.

Examples of amounts for different sizes of dogs

For example, to feed a 4 pounds puppy, with high activity level, it could require up to 8% of its daily body weight of BARF diet (160gr).

On the other hand, to feed an adult dog with an average weight around 100 pounds and that maintains a low activity level will only need 1.5% of its body weight daily (675 mg).

At the beginning, probably, making these calculations will seem complicated, but you can help yourself with websites where they automatically calculate the percentages of each type of food that you have to give your dog daily or consult a veterinarian nutritionist.

Read also: Can Dogs Eat Salami?

BARF diet for puppies

BARF Diet Percentages

From 5 weeks of age you can start with his first rations of minced meat (chicken, turkey, rabbit) and his first raw meaty bones (chicken necks and wings or legs).

If you get your puppy from a breeder or kennel from 10 weeks onwards, it is important to know what food your puppy has been fed for the last few weeks.

In case it has been on feed, which is most likely, we recommend a gradual transition to the new diet. At first replace one of the 5 - 6 servings a day with some chicken or turkey mince.

After a couple of days replace two of the 5 - 6 servings per day and so on until your puppy is 100% on a biologically appropriate raw diet.

Do not mix raw food and commercial pellets in the same meal because the transition times of these two feeds are totally different.

Meaty bones and recreational bones

The first thing to remember is that all bones should always be given RAW.

Meaty bones are the main element of the natural raw diet and cover most of your dog's needs, being the main source of energy, water, protein, fats, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. In addition, it naturally provides a large amount of vitamins to your dog's daily diet.

With meaty bones, not only is the need of the two main minerals (phosphorus and calcium) completely balanced and covered, but also many others such as zinc, magnesium, iodine, manganese, iron, etc.

Bones are very rich in fat, which is essential in your pet's diet.

However, although the average amount of meaty bones is 60%, if the dog is overweight it would be advisable to lower the amount of bone and the other way around if the dog has a high activity or is lean.

MEATY BONES: You can give chicken or turkey wings, necks, poultry or rabbit carcasses, beef brisket, beef ribs... The bones, when chewed, soften even more and form a paste that does not pose any danger to the animal. The bones of poultry or rabbit thighs should never be given in their flesh, since although they are raw, they can be dangerous, this does not occur when they are given with their corresponding part of meat. Do not give only one type of meaty bones, variety is important in the nutrition of your dog.

RECREATIONAL BONES: These are big hard bones from cattle or pork (knees or calf shanks for example), they are called recreational bones and benefit the dog psychologically, since they entertain them a lot and generate endorphins. It also provides a great dental hygiene.

Disadvantages of BARF diet for dogs?

As with everything, it is also important to consider the disadvantages of this type of dog food. Take note!

  • It is essential to enrich their diet with good quality products.
  • It is necessary to monitor the proportions of the food and ensure that the animal has all its nutritional needs covered.
  • This feeding implies a greater control of food hygiene for bacteria and parasites in the food.
  • It is not advisable to switch from processed foods to the BARF diet suddenly. Doing so can lead to serious digestive problems in your pet. The change should be progressive and the transition will last about two weeks.

In any case, as with humans, food plays an essential role in the health and well-being of animals. Therefore, it is of vital importance to choose a type of nutrition that is healthy and adapted to their needs. Before deciding on this or any other diet to feed your pet, check with your veterinarian if this nutritional plan is really appropriate for your pet.

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