What You Should Know About BARF in Dogs

BARF takes the diet of the wolf as a model. Our tips help to avoid health risks for dogs.

BARF stands for Bones And Raw Food and is a popular alternative to commercial convenience foods. Fresh and raw prepared rations should imitate the diet of the wild ancestors and thus ensure the health of the dog naturally.

What are the advantages of BARF?

With BARF you have a choice. You put the ingredients together yourself, decide where you get them from, and thus design the food for your four-legged friend individually. So everyone can respond exactly to the needs of their dog. If he doesn’t like an ingredient or doesn’t tolerate it, you can replace it with another ingredient. This is particularly beneficial for dogs with sensitive gastrointestinal tracts and allergy sufferers. Often the acceptance of fresh ingredients is very high and the animals eat with great appetite. In addition, the need to chew is also satisfied. Giving whole pieces of meat and bones is said to promote dental health. There are often reports of a nicer coat, better body odor, and more energy – but there are no verifiable studies on this.

How do you switch to BARF?

Some dogs are rather skeptical about switching to BARF and initially reject it. Others, on the other hand, pounce hungry on the new food. No matter how robust the four-legged friend is – dogs should always be moved carefully and slowly. Especially in the beginning, the digestive tract has to adjust to the new food. The usual food can be gradually removed until the dog only receives BARF. First, you can offer the cooked food, then you gradually reduce the cooking time until the ingredients are only briefly scalded. If this is well accepted and tolerated, a meal can be completely replaced by a raw one. In any case, it is important to give your four-legged friend enough time for this dietary adjustment.

The most common mistakes in BARFing

Practice shows that the BARF ratios are often not balanced. Copper and zinc as well as calcium, iodine, and vitamin D are often missing. Often too much vitamin A and calcium is contained. Mistakes in the composition of the ration have serious consequences for dogs of all ages, sizes, and conditions. Not every ingredient is suitable for raw feeding. If certain types of fish, egg whites, or legumes are fed uncooked, this can lead to indigestion or even serious poisoning.

The gift of splintering or cooked bones leads to injuries in the mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Too high a proportion can lead to blockages from bone feces. Damage to the tooth enamel or even broken teeth can also occur.

BARF profiles in the form of blood tests only give a snapshot of the nutrient content of the dog – the informative value is correspondingly low. Deficiency symptoms cannot be recognized as a result; these only become noticeable later in the form of long-term damage. To protect the four-legged friend from deficiency symptoms and their consequential damage, feeding errors must be avoided at all costs. Only with the help of professionally drawn-up ration plans can incorrect supplies be prevented and the feed adapted to the needs of each animal.

The most important rules for BARFing

  • Never cook bones!
  • Do not feed raw pork!
  • Be careful when feeding the throat and larynx!
  • Do not give every type of fish raw!
  • Avoid raw egg whites!
  • Make sure you have a sufficient supply of nutrients!

The balanced BARF ration

  • A balanced diet includes raw meat, meaty bones, offal, vegetables and fruits, and oils.
  • The amount of the individual components depends on many factors: age, weight, activity, tolerance, preferences, and condition.
  • Bones, egg shells, and mineral products ensure an adequate supply of minerals.
  • You can, but do not have to, feed starchy feedstuffs such as rice, potatoes, or cereals. They serve as a good source of energy and are readily accepted by many dogs.
  • If the dog does not get along well with vegetables, the amount can be adjusted accordingly. If the four-legged friend tends to be overweight, lean meats such as rabbit, chicken, or turkey are more suitable than beef or mutton.
  • Meat can be offered in large pieces or minced. With ground meat, the other components are easier to mix in so that the dog does not select and you can be sure that all the components are ingested.

Boneless BARF alternatives

Bones contain important minerals that are essential for the body. Not every dog ​​tolerates bones, and the gift also harbors some dangers if certain precautions are not observed. Bones should never be cooked as they can splinter and cause injury to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. The calcium content in meat, vegetables, or grains does not cover a dog’s needs. Cartilage also contains calcium, but this is not enough. Calcium from another source must be fed.

Egg shells provide an alternative to bones. They can be used as a natural alternative in BARFing. The finer these are crushed, the better they are utilized by the body. The addition of calcium carbonate is another possibility, the calcium content is comparable to that of eggshells. There are a large number of mineral supplements with calcium. It is essential to pay attention to the different compositions of the preparations, the dosage must be precisely adapted to the needs.

Hygienic risks in BARFing

Raw meat can contain infectious agents. Through some, the dog becomes a shedder without becoming ill itself. It then represents a danger for humans, especially for pregnant women, children, and weakened or elderly people whose immune systems are not armed against these pathogens. When handling raw meat, a few hygienic measures must therefore be observed:

  • Ground or chopped meat should be frozen quickly.
  • Once thawed, meat must not be refrozen.
  • Meat that smells bad or is discolored should never be fed.
  • Freezing does not kill all pathogens: Salmonella and Clostridia are e.g. B. insensitive to cold.
  • However, freezing protects against E-coli, tapeworm fins
  • Regular deworming against tapeworms or an examination of fecal samples in the veterinary practice is recommended.

Frequently Asked Question

How to start with BARF?

There are different ways to set up the BARF plan. With the weekly plan, different amounts of specific components are distributed over a week. So one day it’s meat with liver and vegetables and the next maybe tripe with bones and fruit. The second possibility is an s.g. complete lining.

What do I have to pay attention to when BARFing?

The most important ingredients in BARF are meat, bones, and offal. In addition, there are small amounts of fruit and vegetables, which are intended to replicate the stomach contents of smaller prey animals. As with food intake in the great outdoors, all components are fed raw.

What do vets say about BARF?

Unfortunately, many veterinarians are against BARF. They only list the disadvantages, report negative experiences, and claim that BARF is harmful to health and, above all, dangerous for people.

What should not be missing when BARFing?

In principle, healthy dogs fed a balanced diet do not need BARF supplements. With a well-thought-out mix of meat, fish, bones, blood, vegetables, fruit, eggs, and dairy products, dogs get everything they need as part of a species-appropriate diet.

Can BARF make the dog sick?

Recent studies, however, conclude that feeding raw meat can also be deadly. If the dog is sick from BARFing, the master or mistress will feel guilty. This not only creates a danger for the four-legged friend. BARF can also be dangerous for people.

How much does the BARF cost per month?

A balanced BARF diet for your dog costs around €20 – €40 per month. A balanced BARF diet for your dog costs about €50 – €80 per month.

How long can BARF stay in the bowl?

The answer is very simple: raw meat for dogs can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Care should be taken to ensure that the meat is not stored airtight.

Can you combine BARF and wet food?

Cold-pressed dry food can be combined much better with BARF, and wet food in the form of pure meat cans, meat rolls, or complete menus can also be fed alternately with raw meat without any problems.

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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