Proponents of a raw food diet often wonder if BARF can be used with puppies. The answer is: yes. There are no contraindications to introduce BARF at an early stage of development of a pet dog. Of course, any diet should be consulted with a veterinarian. The numbers and percentages given below are indicative – when choosing a diet, it’s always worth paying attention to the characteristics and activity of the puppy.
BARF for puppies, is it safe?
Despite the fact that the dog’s system is perfectly adapted to eating raw meat and properly selected bones, there are always some health risks. It is small, but it is worth following the tips to minimise the risk.
The easiest solution is to buy commercial food based on the BARF diet. However, if we decide to feed our dog at home, we should pay attention to several aspects.
Firstly, raw meat should be fresh. The longer it lies, the more pathogens can develop. Adult dogs are fine with this, but puppies are more sensitive. This rule also applies to frozen meat (freeze fresh and do not store too long after thawing).
Raw meat for your dog should be stored in clean, covered containers, without coming into contact with other foods. You should also avoid contact with raw meat by wearing disposable gloves when cutting it.
In the case of puppies, bones that can cause damage to teeth should also be avoided (these can include heavy weight-bearing bones such as long leg bones or beef ribs).
It’s worth giving different types of meat – to provide the puppy with the necessary ingredients in the right proportions.
How to feed BARF to puppies?
Do not give too small parts of bones. The risk is that the puppy will swallow too large a piece, which can be dangerous. The size should be matched to the size of the dog, which has to struggle a bit to grind well the bones given to it.
Some people practice giving only minced meat without bones or connective tissue. This is a mistake, as you are depriving your puppy of minerals. Bones also play an important role in maintaining healthy teeth.
Dogs need much less water when fed a raw diet than they do when fed ready-made dry food for dogs. However, you still need to stick to the rule that your puppy has constant access to it – he will drink as much as he needs.
The number of meals is the same as with any other puppy diet.
How much food to give a puppy on the BARF diet?
Here, everything depends on the size, breed and activity of the puppy. It’s worth using BARF diet calculators. However, roughly speaking, we can assume that for a small puppy under 6 months, it will be about 4-8% of the weight of the puppy, above 6 months 3-5%, with age it will be less and less until we get to about 2%.
What products should the BARF diet contain?
BARF diet should include products of animal origin (about 80%), and vegetable origin, that is vegetables and fruit (about 20%). The meat part includes meat (approx. 50%), and offal, bones, rumen. The meat-free additions are mainly vegetables for dogs, and to a lesser extent fruit for dogs. To supplement the necessary ingredients, you can also consider adding nuts for dogs, in very small amounts.
Is it necessary to deworm my dog during the BARF diet?
It is a myth that a dog, when fed a BARF diet, is not at risk of catching worms. As with any other diet, deworming is necessary. Symptoms that may indicate that the puppy has caught parasites may be weight loss, vomiting or diarrhoea. Always consult your vet before deworming to choose the right remedy.
How do I switch my puppy to a BARF diet?
As with other foods – if you change the diet of the dog you need to do it gradually. It’s best to introduce one type of meat at the beginning. It can be chicken – which is usually well tolerated. In subsequent stages, other types of raw food are slowly added. It should be observed whether the dog does not have food problems or symptoms of food allergies when adding another ingredient to the diet.
Does the BARF diet require a lot of work? Is it expensive?
Unfortunately, the BARF diet is one of the more labour-intensive ones. If we prepare a homemade diet for a dog on our own, we need to spend a lot of time on the proper selection of ingredients in order to properly balance the diet. We should also not make the final decision on our own – it should be consulted with a vet. As for the price, it may or may not be expensive. We can look for cheaper ingredients, like chicken legs or chicken necks, which don’t have to be inferior at all!