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Components of a Raw Food Diet (BARF Diet)

Updated on May 13, 2011

Bones and Raw Meat Diet

The Bones and Raw Meat Diet, or BARF Diet, is essentially a raw diet for your pet. There are many components and ingredients that go into properly feeding your dog a raw diet, that it will take a good bit of research and possibly mentoring from others before you have the ideal raw diet for your dog down pat.

Otherwise, continue below for the basic components for a raw food diet, as you'll learn the basic ingredients that are beneficial for your dog's diet.

But first, understand that feeding meat alone is highly unnatural and unbalanced, which is why other ingredients should be included in the BARF diet for dogs, such as bones, fruits,vegetables, offal, and supplements. When feeding a raw diet, make sure that you understand all the components of the BARF diet.

Flickr Image by AdrianneIsabel
Flickr Image by AdrianneIsabel
Flickr Image by Keeroff
Flickr Image by Keeroff

BARF Diet Components

Bones- Because our dog's body is built to eat bones, it's necessary to include this in the Bones and Raw Meat Diet. Bones are living tissues and contain a wide variety of nutrients- vitamins, minerals, proteins, natural antioxidants (enzymes and anti-aging factors), and fats (essential fatty acids). The bone marrow alone is highly nutritious mix of blood forming elements, such as iron.

Meat- Meat is an important aspect of a raw diet, although it cannot be the only component. Meats are a great source of protein for dogs, as well as varying amounts of fats, water, and some vitamins and minerals. Meat supplies the dog with energy because there are no starches or sugars included.

  • Chicken and pork have the highest levels of essential fatty acids.
  • Lamb and beef have low amounts of fatty acids, although lamb typically contains more than beef only because it has more fat in general.

You will find that raw meat is low in sodium and high in potassium, which is great for dogs with heart problems (pork is best meat for dogs with heart problems).

  • Beef has the lowest sodium content
  • Pork has fairly low sodium
  • Pork has the highest potassium content
  • Chicken has the lowest potassium

Beef, lamb, chicken, and pork all have low calcium and magnesium content, which means they are all great for dogs prone to bladder stones.

Beef and lamb are high in zinc, making them good for dogs with zinc deficiencies, where chicken and pork have low zinc.

Beef has the highest iron content.

Offal- Offal includes the internal organ meats, which are vital fora healthy dog, although it is not required in large amounts. Offal is great for dogs during times of growth, reproduction, and stress.

  • Liver is a great source of Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K, zinc, manganese, selenium, iron, as well as Vitamin B2, B3, B5, biotin, folacin, B12, choline, and inositol. Liver is a good source of protein and fatty acids, such as omege 3 and omega 6.
  • Kidneys are a good source of protein, fatty acids, iron, and zinc. Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • The heart is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, taurine, and iron. It will contain some fatty acids and Vitamin A.
  • The Unbleached Green Tripe Green tripe is the lining and content of a ruminant's (cow) first or second division of the stomach. It is a good source or enzymes, omega 3, omega 6, probiotics, and phytonutrients.

Jerry Tries Cow Heart and Liver

Vegetables- Dogs need some raw vegetables in their diet as they contain essential nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, etc.

  • Broccoli is a good source of Vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid, calcium, fiber, chromium, and various phytochemicals (beta carotene, indoles, isothiocyanates and over thirty-three cancer preventative compounds.). Broccoli has demonstrated anti-cancer effects.
  • Spinach contains twice as much iron as most other greens, and is rich in antioxidants. Spinach also contains lutein, zeaxanthin, fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, B6 and K.
  • Celery is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and iron, as well as vitamins A, B, C. Celery is thought to be an anti-tumor agent, a great means to reduce nervousness, and an acide neutralizer.
  • Carrots are rich in Vitamin A, beta carotene and other carotenes in carrots do not cause toxicity. Carrots are a strong antioxidant, containing Vitamins B, C, D, E, K, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and iron. Carrots have been proven to aid in improving eyesight.
  • Capsicum, such as red peppers, are great for beta carotene, and can stimulate circulation and aiding the digestive system. It's also thought to help prevent some forms of cancer.

Fruit- Fruits are a great source of fiber, enzymes, and antioxidants, as well as vitamin A as carotene and vitamin C. Fruits have proven to have anti-aging power.

  • Whole, unpeeled apples are high in non-pro-vitamin A carotenes, pectin, beta carotene, Vitamin C, as well as several B Vitamins such as Vitamin B6, folic acid, and potassium.
  • Whole pears are great source of water-soluble fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C.
  • Whole grapefruit is a good source of flavonoids, water soluble fibers, potassium, vitamin C, pectin, and folic acid. Grapefruit seeds have even been shown to have an anti-fungal agent, killing types of parasites and aiding in good bacteria. Grapefruit and other citrus fruits have been shown to have some anti-cancer effects.
  • Oranges have a great source of Vitamin C, folate (folic acid), potassium, and thiamin, as well as some calcium and magnesium.

Whole Eggs- Eggs are a great source of nutrition for eggs, as they are regarded as the perfect protein source. They also contain high levels of calcium, all vitamins except Vitamin C, high range of fatty acids, lecithin, and various enzymes. The egg yolk, is even good for dogs with skin problems, as they contain sulphur containing amino acids, biotin, vitamin A, essential fatty acids and zinc.

Flax Seed- Flax seed is rich in essential fatty acids. It contains lignans, which have even been proven to prevent cancer.

Garlic- Garlic is a natural antibiotic; it has been proven to inhibit growth of bacteria and fungi and a great means to stabilize blood pressure. Garlic is a great source of potassium, zinc, vitamins A and C, and selenium, as well as manganese, copper, vitamin B1 and some iron.

Alfalfa- Alfalfa helps the body to assimilate protein, calcium, and other nutrients. It's a great infection fighter and natural deodorizer. You'll find that alfalfa is rich in Vitamins A, C, E, K, B and D, as well as bioflaonoids, and various digestive enzymes.

Other Supplements- It is always a good idea to supplement a dog on the BARF diet. Consider cod liver oil, Vitamin E, Zinc oxide, and manganese oxide.

  • Cod Liver Oil is a natural source of Vitamin A and D as well as omega-3 fatty acids. It has been proven to help improve coat and skin.
  • Vitamin E is a great antioxidant.
  • Zinc Oxide is important to promote good hair and coat, as well as optimal growth and activity level.
  • Manganese Oxide functions as an enzyme that benefits diet, increased growth, aids in reproduction, and helps balance the metabolism.


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    • profile image

      benbaker 5 years ago

      Garlic and Onions are not toxic, but can cause problems if used incorrectly. Due to their antibiotic nature you do not want to be feeding garlic or onions on a regular basis, as they will do more harm than good especially served raw where they have the highest medicinal value.

      you can use them as antibiotics , just remember to give pro-biotics to the animal afterwards as these will kill both good and bad bacteria.

      one of the points to the raw diet is maintaining a healthy bacterial balance and as a result better overall health. please do not feed garlic or onions to an animal unless they specifically need the antibiotics

    • Chrissy Says... profile image

      Chrissy Says... 8 years ago from Wenatchee, WA

      Never something I thought about doing...But definitely a good read! Thanks!

    • aikidk01 profile image

      aikidk01 8 years ago

      Whitney05 - Very interesting article. I had not considered all of the benefits of feeding your dog raw meat, veggies and fruit. We do feed our lab carrots and broccoli and will consider the vast number of other foods you recommend. Dan

    • expectus profile image

      expectus 8 years ago from Land Downunder

      very nice hub:) enjoyed the youtube video too, actually made me hungry which is strange i guess organ meat would be good for humans too:)

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      Small dogs can eat the BARF diet. Just feed smaller bones and chunks of meat.

      Garlic in small amounts is ok, and potentially benficial.

    • profile image

      kian 8 years ago

      hey... just want to know whether it's good to feed small dog BARF diet? It seems okay to feed BARF diet for bigger dog but how about smaller sized dog?

      Also, i heard that garlic is not good for dog cos it contains some sort of poison (similar to onion). Am i right?

      Any opinion or thoughts on that...