So what does BARF stand for? Biologically appropriate raw food or bones and raw food.
There are many reasons to cook for your dog, the main one being that dogs thrive on living food just like we do! We need to eat a balanced diet of fresh vegetables and proteins to ensure a healthy body and so do our canine companions. Commercial dog food is convenient, easy to ship, stores well and holds for up to a year but it is a lot like cereal in its nutritional value. Think about only being able to eat your favorite boxed cereal daily, sounds delicious right? Even if your dog is willing to scarf down every morsel they get without a fuss, there are some amazing and easy recipes you can make to add fresh food to their diet.
Dr. Karen Becker, who writes a bi-weekly newsletter for Mercola Pet, ranks a balanced fresh diet as the number one thing to feed your pet. Next in line is a commercially produced raw diet, then human grade canned food, almost at the bottom is dry dog food (even the best stuff) and last would be an unbalanced home cooked diet. She ranks an unbalanced home cooked diet last to drive home the point that a huge bowl of white rice with some boiled chicken added is the worst thing to feed your dog as a regular diet. Remember that dog food in a bag is a relatively new invention, compared to how long dogs have been our companions. The first dog food was made in 1860 out of wheat, beet root, vegetables and beef blood. Since then a barrage of products from biscuits, feed pellets to dehydrated foods have been marketed as dog food, but very few have balanced nutritional value.
Up until 1974 the National Research Council (NRC) developed the protocol for the nutritional values needed in pet food. A new organization was formed, called the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This group was organized by the pet food industry. They decided to change the standards of the NRC (National Research Council) testing procedures from extending feeding trials of the dog food over a period of time, to simple testing of the chemical analysis of the dog food. In 1985 the NRC created a new standard for dog food, but it has never been adopted, or even taken seriously, and all dog food companies use the 1974 AFFCO standards. The dog food industry is way behind in how we make and test dog food, so we have taken it upon ourselves to find what is best for your furry companions, after all we love our pets and we know you do too! Here are some excellent recipes, cooked and raw for you to try, but first some important information.
If your pet has only been eating kibble their entire life, consider that fresh (especially raw) foods can be a shock to the system, so go slow! Incorporate no more than 25% of their daily diet as fresh foods, maybe even a fresh snack at first. Slowly build more fresh into their diet so you can ensure they tolerate the change without digestive upset. When I converted my dogs, it took one of them 3 days to acclimate and the other 2 weeks. Every dog is different!
At least 60-80% of your dog’s fresh food diet should consist of raw meat. (Remember that this meat should never come from a commercial grocery store, only human grade meat from butchers or food companies that make meat meant to be consumed raw should be used). Further broken down, that meat allowance should be roughly 20% organ meat, 20% skin and fat, and 35% muscle meat. All meat should, obviously, be uncooked if possible, and may include: Eggs (with shell), beef, buffalo, venison, elk, chicken, turkey, emu, ostrich, rabbit, and fish. Vegetables may be combined with meat, to account for 20-40% of your dog’s diet. Appropriate vegetables include: Broccoli, squash (all types), Romaine lettuce, carrots, cabbage, celery, and asparagus. If your dog gets bloated or gassy, reduce or eliminate the broccoli and cabbage. If you are uncomfortable giving or handling raw meat, it can be cooked (but bones have to be removed!!). Just remember that cooking the meat kills all the essential amino acids and probiotics so you will need to add these back into the meal at the end. Notice that there is no room left for grains in these fresh food recommendations? That’s because dogs do not thrive on grains no matter how wholesome they are. Many good recipes include whole grains to help with cost, and making Fido feel full but they are unnecessary. You may add them, but they are useless calories. Some of the recipes we included have grain in them, but you can increase the meat and take them out for the best results.
How much do you feed? 2-3% of total body weight is appropriate for most dogs. Very young dogs may need a bit more, while older or inactive dogs require less. To calculate, multiply weight, in pounds, by 16 to get total body weight in ounces. Feed 2-3% of that weight, daily.
For example, if your dog weighs 50 pounds...
50 lb. x 16 oz. = 800 oz. (total body weight in ounces)
800 oz. x .02 = 16 oz. (total daily minimum food weight)
800 oz. x .03 = 24 oz. (total daily maximum food weight)
Paws up for Raw (raw)
1 lb. raw ground meat
2 cups ground or pureed vegetables
2- 4oz. raw organ meat (liver, gizzards, etc.)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
1 T ground kelp
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 eggs with shells
Handful of parsley
Mix all ingredients (chop, puree, or leave in large chunks, depending on your dog’s preference) and store in the refrigerator or freezer. This mixture should account for 20-40% of your dog’s daily diet.
Organic and Easy (raw)
1/2cup organic cottage cheese
1/2 cup organic grated carrots
4-5 organic skin-on raw chicken wings (or cooked organic chicken, with bones removed)
Pile up your dog’s bowl, and watch it disappear!
3 cups ground buffalo (lean)
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup grated mixed vegetables, including zucchini, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potato
1/2 cup cottage cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Hand-mix all ingredients and press into a loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes. May be refrigerated, or frozen in slices for easy serving. Substitute ground turkey, chicken, or beef, if desired.
Easy Casserole (cooked)
1 cup cooked chicken or turkey
1/2 cup steamed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, squash, spinach, sweet potato)
1/2 cup prepared brown rice or quinoa
4 Tbsp. no-sodium broth
Combine all ingredients.
These foods can be prepared in advance, refrigerated and even frozen but feed them no more than 4 days after they are made for best results. We keep ours in the fridge, individually portioned out for ease of use. If you can’t cook for your dog every day that’s fine, but incorporating fresh food at least once or twice a week can give them some much needed variety and wholesome fresh food their body will thrive on! To ensure they are getting the full range of vitamins and minerals, we recommend a nutritional supplement like Nupro, Missing Link or FidoNutrients be added to your home cooked meals.