As a dog owner, you probably know the question: "Which food is right for my four-legged friend?" Whether wet or dry food - the right diet quickly becomes a topic of discussion. No other type of feeding is as controversial as BARF. But what exactly is the abbreviation all about?
BARF at a glance
BARF stands for “Biologically appropriate raw feeding with meat, vegetables and fruit”. Or in short: "Bone And Raw Food".
This type of dog feeding is closely based on the original diet of wolves. It mainly includes raw meat, vegetables and fruits. Classic ingredients include muscle meat, innards and rumen from ruminants, as well as carrots, spinach and apples. All ingredients are additionally supplemented with nutrient preparations, fats and oils and minerals.
Especially in the last few years the demand for BARF nutrition has increased strongly. Many dog owners prefer not only the original feeding, but also the direct influence on the nutrition of their four-legged friend. Compared to many dry and wet foods with a wide range of ingredients, you know exactly what you are giving your dog. With our dry food types VeggieDog, InsectDog and FarmDog, you can clearly see what is in them and what we consciously do without. But since you are in sole control of the bar, it feels even more 'home-made'.
In our guide 'What do you have to consider in a healthy dog diet?' You will find an overview of the different types of feeding and the nutritional needs of your dog.
The most important information about BARF at a glance!
BARF: Biologically appropriate raw feeding with meat, vegetables and fruit
Ingredients: Raw meat, vegetables and fruits, nutritional supplements
Individual design of the composition of the feed ration possible
great variation on the menu
exact knowledge about the origin & ingredients
can be designed sustainably and regionally at will
requires a lot of planning and measuring of the feed rations
Risk of malnutrition
Difficult to implement on vacation or when time is pressed
Disgust can develop towards raw meat
Getting used to and sometimes very unpleasant odor (e.g. rumen)
raw meat can lead to hygiene problemsIf the dog does not eat the raw meat all at once, it has to be disposed of after a certain time due to its perishability
Bones can lead to digestive problems and tooth fractures
The digestibility of raw ingredients is often lower than that of ingredients that have been pre-digested through cooking or extrusion
Know exactly what's inside
The BARF diet offers dog owners several advantages. In contrast to feeding with dry and wet feed, a large variation of the daily feed is possible here. You can design the individual menu to be varied, as long as it covers the individual needs of your four-legged friend.
Above all, Barfen also gives you the opportunity to pay close attention to the origin of the ingredients. You can buy meat and fruit as well as fresh vegetables regionally, organically and sustainably, for example at your weekly market or in the health food store. So you can feed your dog free of preservatives, coloring and flavoring substances.
Barfen for beginners
BARF feeding is characterized above all by one thing: a lot of planning and precise measurement. The right amount of feed and the composition of the added nutrient preparations are very important here. Inaccurate feeding can mean that your dog's nutritional needs are not adequately met and deficiency symptoms occur.
Especially in puppies and young dogs, missing nutrients can be devastating during the growing season and in the worst case even lead to deformities.
It doesn't work without a lot of planning and preparation
The BARF concept sounds really good at first, but also complicated - but where do you start?
"Just go for it" is unfortunately the wrong motto here. As a dog owner, you should rather inform yourself about the individual needs of your four-legged friend. This works through your own research or with the help of your veterinarian or a professional dog nutritionist. Animal nutrition experts and special BARF calculators help you to calculate the individual needs of your four-legged friend and to create an initial plan. As soon as you have created the first feeding plan, you can use it as a guide for the composition of your meals in the future. So you don't have to start over every week. Take enough time to fully understand your dog's needs. Alternatively, you can find beginner-friendly ready-made menus in different compositions and qualities on the market. Here, too, researching and dealing with your dog's individual needs is important.
How to plan the BARF menu for your dog!
The exact planning of the composition of individual feed rations can take a lot of time - but the daily rations can also be easily prepared together. The magic word here is “Meal Prep”: Preparation is (almost) everything when it comes to barfing! For example, use a specific day of the week to prepare all servings. So you only have to thaw it during the week.
The rule of thumb for the daily amount of food is based on the dog's weight
Adult dogs: approx. 2% of the body weight
Puppies & young dogs: approx. 4-10% of body weight (depending on breed, activity and month of life)
Switching from normal dog food to BARF
As soon as the menu is ready and the trusted meat supplier has been found, it can start. Now you can swing your knife and kitchen scales and change your dog's diet. Do this step by step and do not change the feed overnight. Here we show you how such a change should look in practice.
Of course, your four-legged friend does not have to do without treats. However, make sure that these also mean extra calories and that you reduce the daily portion of the main meal a little depending on the amount of snack. A “BARF-compliant” variant is raw meat, but it is often impractical, especially in summer or on the go. It is easier to use dried meat here. But commercially available treats or dry food croquettes are also possible options, provided your dog can tolerate them well. Many barers like to use our VeggieDog Grainfree.
Now you only need one thing: patience. Because not every dog tolerates - or likes - every type of meat or vegetable. Of course, you can mix different types of meat while barfing. Over time you will find out what your dog's preferences and, above all, tolerances are.
Barfen on vacation
In everyday life you are now well equipped for a BARF diet, but how does barf work on the go? Because who doesn't know it: vacation suitcases and trunk fill up much faster than expected, space for food scales, nutrients and the like is often not planned. So how can you feed your four-legged friend fully on vacation? A vacation with a dog can quickly present you with more challenges than e.g. with dry food. Suddenly there are increasing questions that were never an issue when feeding with dry food. Does the accommodation even have a refrigerator for storage? And an area where you can prepare food? If it is not possible to take prepared feed rations with you on vacation: Is the supply covered? Does the small, local supermarket at the holiday destination even have the meat they need?
In general, it is true that BARF feeding on vacation is not impossible, but it poses a higher organizational burden for dog owners than feeding with dry food, for example. Checklists and precise planning in advance can be your savior here. Our high-quality Green Petfood dog foods can be an alternative to barfing on vacation.
Checklist: Before going on vacation
☐ Contact accommodation: is there a place to store meat? Can I prepare the BARF ration in the accommodation?
☐ Local research: What shopping options are there? Are butchers and / or regional markets easily accessible?
☐ Plan an emergency alternative (e.g. dry food)
Download our checklist here!
BARF FAQ: The most important questions at a glance
Is it allowed to drink and give dry food at the same time? Yes, you can supplement a BARF diet with high quality dry food. Some barfer feed one portion of BARF per day, the other portion of dry food.
Barps and wet food alternating - is that possible? Yes, a mixture between BARF and wet food is also possible, as long as your four-legged friend tolerates his food well and the nutritional requirements are adequately met.
How can I switch to Barfen? Especially at the beginning of the conversion to barps, you should proceed cautiously step by step and not change the food of your favorite overnight.
Are additives necessary for barfish? Yes, you should make sure to provide your dog with all the important and essential nutrients. These include: taurine, calcium, possibly phosphorus, iron, vitamins A / B / D / E, iodine and sodium. It is best to seek advice from an animal nutrition expert.
From what age can you BARF? Barfing puppies can be a particular challenge. In the first three weeks of life, of course, puppies' food consists of mother's milk. From around the fourth week of life, puppies slowly develop an interest in vegetables and meat - nevertheless, you should first offer BARF pureed and only as supplementary food. From the eighth week of your life you can gradually start barfing. Find out more in our article on optimal nutrition for puppies!
Thanks to our sustainable gluten- or grain-free recipes with regional ingredients, all of our products offer a complete diet with all nutrients - and can also be optimally fed as a supplement to the bar. No matter whether as a treat, a full portion or for a veggie day to relieve the organism.
And the alternation between green petfood and BARF really works?
And how! On our blog you can read how Philomela supports the BARF nutrition of her therapy dogs with VeggieDog Origin - and it's very easy.
Important criteria for Green Petfood dog food
Better climate footprint through the use of alternative protein sources
Nutrient-optimized for protein, fat, minerals and vitamins
No wheat or soy added
Without the addition of artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
Without the addition of genetically modified ingredients