Bones and raw food (BARF) diets

If you want to feed your dog a BARF diet, here are a few tips to get you started…

Feeding meaty bones:

  • Raw bones, not cooked, are the preference.
  • Bones should have meat on them.
  • Cooked meat now and again is fine, but it will be missing important nutrients which the cooking process removes, and also will be too soft to give your dog’s teeth and jaws a good workout.
  • Feed vegetables and fruit alongside meat – they should be minced, lightly cooking or processed through a liquidiser.
  • Dairy is best avoided, although the odd egg is OK.
  • Offal (heart, liver, kidney, lungs and trachea) and sundry other red bits are very rich feeding so should not be fed more than once a week. Tripe can be fed much more often.
  • When feeding, you can be as flexible as you need. “I like to feed my dogs bones one day and meat with vegetables the next. Probably the most popular way to start feeding BARF is by offering a raw chicken wing, and you can feed whole raw chickens (plucked and gutted) too,” says vet Mark Elliott.
  • Tidy up leftover bones after eating. Dried bones can become brittle and break easily.
    (Above info provided by vet Mark Elliott)

 Commercial BARF diets

There are a range of commercial BARF diets available on the market. They come in different forms; some are minced with vegetables in packets that can be frozen and defrosted overnight, while others deliver ethically-sourced bones and meat to your door. Feeding instructions and advice will be available from the specific company. It is advisable, as with any diet change, to introduce your dog slowly, building up the amount of BARF diet he has over a period of time to suit him. If in doubt ask your vet, canine nutritionist or the company you buy from for advice. Finally, when feeding raw meat, follow food hygiene guidelines. Keep raw and cooked meat separate and allow ample defrosting time before feeding.

 Useful contacts

Dogs Monthly strongly recommends that, if you’re thinking of feeding a BARF home-prepared diet to your dog, that you seek advice from a vet or canine nutritionist to ensure your dog receives a complete and balanced diet.