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BARF (Bones and Raw Food) Diet for Dogs

Nutrition is the foundation for your dog's good health. Recognize that your dog is canine, not human, and feed him as a carnivore as mother nature intended.


A raw food diet makes dogs healthier and more resistant to disease than processed kibble. Despite the anti-raw sentiment in the vet community, it is equally safe as kibble.

Humans and dogs are not built the same and do not digest in the same way. Dogs are carnivores, different than us human omnivores. They have a shorter digestive track and rely on the small intestine to break up food into energy. For dogs, a starch laden diet equals hormone abuse. It is responsible for auto immune diseases that have been linked to IBS, colitis, and even arthritis. With a raw diet, a dog won't be eating a starch laden diet that is inappropriate for him or be given chemical additives which do not equate to nutritional value.


The Principles

  • Keep the ratio of Calcium (from bones) and Phosphorus (from meat) balanced.
  • Feed a variety of animals and all parts of the animal, from the meat, organs and bone to all else that remains.
  • Never feed cooked bones. They are brittle and can splinter. Raw bones are soft enough to bend and digest.
  • Don't worry about making every meal balanced, just get it right over time like the course of a week.
  • Transition from kibble by starting with kibble plus raw ground meat. Later add in meaty bones. Save organ meats for the last and add in very gradually. OR if you have an adventurous dog with a strong stomach, switch cold turkey!


The 4 Ingredient Categories - Dogs need 13 essential vitamins and minerals. They get 12 from meat and bones.

1.  30-50% Raw Meaty Bones - Bones with the meat on them like beef ribs, pigs feet, turkey necks, chicken drumsticks. Mix it up with a lot of different animals.

This gives dogs the calcium they need. All meat/no bones would be too high in phosphorus. The amount of bone would be like a whole animal a dog would eat in the wild, like a bird or rabbit. A rabbit is around 10% bone, and 90% skin, fur, organs and meat. If we have an animal who is dressed (cleaned up, missing fur and organs), a rabbit, turkey or chicken are all around 1/4 bone.


2.  10-50% Raw Muscle Meat - Plain meat without the bones. Examples:  Heart, cheek, pork roast, lamb, chicken breast, brisket, chuck roast, fat trimmed pork belly, ground beef.

Opt for local butcher slaughtered fresher, nicer meats over more expensive grocery store meats which have bacteria, added salt, and are washed with a bleach solution.  ​Supplement Omega-3 if feeding factory animals instead of local grass fed animals. Deficiency creates inflammatory issues in dog like allergies and joint pain). Sources:  a whole fish once or twice a week from the Atlantic, not the Pacific; mackerel; sardines; anchovies; coconut oil; hemp oil; cod liver oil.


3.  15% Raw Organ Meat - Examples:  liver, kidney, lung, brains, pancreas, eyeballs

These are the most nutrient dense meats. The best nutrition comes from local grass fed, organic vs. factory meats.


4.  5-25% Plant Matter/Fruits and Vegetables and Healthy Extras

Wild dogs and wolves eat plants like grasses, oats, fruits and berries. Choose a variety with all the colors and pesticide free organic. Make up to a quarter of the total, and include those with vitamin C (the one vitamin dogs don't get from meat and bones). Food process or lightly steam so that your dog gets the best absorption into his body.

Healthy extras:

  • Fermented foods for good gut health like grass fed kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt
  • Whole fresh raw eggs a few times a week. Shatter the shells and mix all together.

Bone Appetit - Dog Meals