Home Page Our Practice Remedies Vaccinations Good Stories Good Book Good Stuff



     Raw food diets for dogs and cats are typically referred to as BARF diets. BARF is an acronym for bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw food diet. I think of them as the gold standard among pet food diets. They consist primarily of ground raw meat and raw bones, a small amount of raw vegetables, and a little kelp, alfalfa, and yogurt. Raw food diets are supplied by commercial vendors in the form of frozen patties or medallions or they can be home-made.


    Dogs and cats were domesticated 14,000 and 4,000 years ago, respectively. For thousands of years their diets consisted of small prey and food from our own table. That all changed in our country 60 years ago with the introduction of commercially processed grained-based pet food. We have made many external changes to our dogs and cats but internally their GI tract has not changed. Their GI tract has been designed by evolution and retains its original carnivorous features. Our pets have short and acidic GI systems. This allows them to digest food quickly and makes them less susceptible to bacterial infections. Their GI tract was and  still is designed to eat raw food. You never see dogs or cats build fires and barbeque their prey before eating it! Cooked food takes longer to digest and requires more of the animal’s energy to do so. Heat destroys enzymes, fatty acids, and antioxidants. It denatures fats and proteins in the food rendering them less biologically available to the pet. Francis Pottinger Jr., MD proved in 1942 that diets of cooked food produced negative health effects in a group 900 cats studied over a 10 year period. It makes sense that feeding a raw food diet will simulate the diet that evolution has designed our pets to eat and will allow for optimal health.


    The majority of a raw food diet is comprised of raw meat and bones. About 10-15 % of the diet is made up of raw vegetables, organ meat, kelp, alfalfa, and yogurt. The ingredients are flexible and generally mimic the nutrient content of a small prey animal. These ingredients provide a very natural source of species-appropriate nutrients. The amount fed depends on many factors such as exercise, age, climate, temperament, growth.

  1. Raw Meat-in ground or minced form-beef, chicken, lamb, rabbit, turkey, duck. Organ meats in small amount are also encouraged-liver, gizzard, kidney, heart.
  2. Raw Bones-are safe, wonderful nutrition, and very bioavailable. Cooked bones are very dangerous. They splinter and cannot be digested properly. Raw bones provide nutritious marrow, amino acids and proteins, essential fatty acids, fiber, enzymes, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
  3. Raw Veggies-need to be pulped-this mimics how they would be found in the prey’s stomach. Feed a variety-asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, squash, spinach, potatoes, yams, carrots.
  4. Extras- Kelp/alfalfa powder in a 50/50 mixture provides vitamins and minerals to balance out the meal. Fish oil will supply essential fatty acids. Cod liver oil will provide an excellent source of Vitamins A and D.  Yogurt will provide proper probiotics to aid in the digestive process.  Lastly, Vitamin C rounds out the list of ingredients.  It is important to add these “extras” because our present-day food chain is depleted of them due to poor soil conditions and other pollutants.