Just like people, your dog will benefit from balanced meals made with fresh ingredients, better dental hygiene, better overall health and a better coat…. and it’s much easier to start than many think! Have a read through our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
Getting Started with Raw Feeding Your Dog
Which raw foods contain prebiotics?
Prebiotics are fibre-rich foods (oligosaccharides eg FOS, GOS, TOS, inulin) that are mostly digested by gut bacteria and 30% of SmartBarf is made up of these foods. They include apple, asparagus, banana, broccoli, cabbage, carob, cashews, chickpeas, chicory, flax, kale, pears, peas, seaweed and tomatoes.
The benefits of gut bacteria fed on good sources of oligosaccharides are the release of nutrients and by-products that protect and nourish their hosts and even affect their mental well-being. More specifically, they inhibit the activity of pathogens, promote the activity of beneficial bacteria, protect from the risk of mineral deficiencies by helping to improve mineral absorption and they lower the secretion of stress hormones.
How do I make my dog a balanced meal?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, it is impossible to answer the question “How do I make my dog a balanced meal?” as there are too many variables. The best solution is to join several raw feeding groups on Facebook to improve your knowledge or to read our simplified guide.
How do I start my puppy on a raw/barf diet?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, a barf diet for puppies is the same as one for adult dogs but it is more important that it meets their needs as they will be using the food to build strong bones, good muscles and an alert mind. Puppies are usually fed 4 times a day and require as much food per day as an adult dog. Gradually reduce the frequency to 1 or 2 meals per day by the time they are adult dogs.
Are there “Complete” raw diet minces I can feed my dog?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, regardless of whether a meal is called ‘Complete’, you should always feed a mix of different foods, including prebiotic-rich foods, so that minor mineral and nutrient imbalances are cancelled out over time. You might find it useful to read our simplified beginners’ guide.
What is the difference between Meat Raw Bones and Recreational Bones?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, the difference between raw meaty bones (RMB) and recreational bones is that RMBs are soft enough for the dog to chew up and eat eg poultry carcasses, backs & necks and lamb necks. Recreational bones are larger ones that the dog will chew on but will not eat the whole bone eg beef marrow bones which might be better fed with the knuckle removed to give easier access to the marrow. The knuckle itself will have soft outer cartilage which the dogs will enjoy gnawing on. Dogs can become constipated by too much bone so please supervise and remove before they eat more than their daily allowance.
How much raw/barf diet should I feed my dog daily?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, an adult dog on a raw food or home-cooked fresh foods diet would typically eat 2% – 3% of its body weight per day ie a 10kg dog should be fed 200g – 300g per day. However, monitor its waistline to see if you need to feed more or less, as its requirements will vary greatly based on their age, weight, activity and other factors eg different meats contain different calories (205g of duck carcass = 385g of chicken carcass = 630g of whole rabbit). Surprisingly, an adult dog eats the same amount of food per day as it did when it was a puppy!…smaller meals but more of them. If you are measuring calories, the standard formula used for calculating the energy requirements of the average spayed/neutered adult pet dog is 30 x bodyweight (kgs) + 70 ie a 10kg dog needs ie 370kcal. As a guide, a raw diet is approximately 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal (often called an 80:10:10 pet mince). To this, we would suggest adding 10% – 20% nutritious vegetables, herbs and other low-starch plants.
What is the best way to include vegetables in my dog’s raw diet?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, vegetable cells have a cellulose wall that trap in their goodness. By blitzing in a blender, you will increase the surface area and allow the limited enzymes that dogs have to break down the walls and leak out the nutrients. Even better, freeze the blitzed vegetables and defrost as needed as this will naturally burst the cell walls and allow even better access to the minerals and vitamins. You can mix the vegetables in with the meat before freezing or after defrosting.
How long can my dog’s raw food be kept in the fridge?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, we would not feed raw meats that are more than 2 days beyond what we would cook for our own meals.
Should I include vegetables in my dog’s raw diet?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, vegetables are a healthy source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients for dogs and can be fed as dog treats (avoid excessive use of starchy root crops as starch is converted to sugar). We believe it is beneficial to feed dogs a BARF diet made up of 10 – 20% herbs and other valuable plants added to a suitable pet mince ie one made up of 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal (traditionally called a ‘Complete’ 80:10:10 pet mince).
How do I introduce bones into my dog’s diet?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, it is wise to slow down the eating habits of dogs by introducing them to larger bones like chicken carcasses, duck necks and lamb ribs initially to teach them to chew before swallowing. We are especially concerned with V-shaped bones eg wings and wishbones, and would either avoid them or cut them at the joint.
Can I cook raw food for my dog?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, cooking barf meals can deplete some nutrients and may destroy or modify the proteins. Only in instances where you have someone in the family (pet or human) with a compromised or weakened immune system do we think that lightly cooking or steaming the food may be required. We would always recommend practising normal good hygiene when handling raw food products. However, cooked bones should never be fed to dogs because they can splinter, changing their nutritional value and digestibility. As a microwave defrost setting can result in some areas of food being unintentionally cooked, do not thaw minces containing bones in a microwave oven. Instead, please defrost at room temperature or feed while still frozen. Feeding boneless meats will result in a diet that is too high in phosphorus and too low in calcium.
Can I feed my dog fish?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, you can feed your dog whole fish but it should be frozen first in case of parasites (this is true of wild-caught game as well). It can be fed frozen or defrosted, and many dogs prefer the texture of it still frozen. Many fresh fish contain thiaminase which destroys vitamin B1 which means that you either have fish-only days or you feed cooked fish.
Can I include grains and cereals in my dog’s diet?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, while dogs are technically able to partly process carbohydrates, it is important to realise that carbs only offer energy, not nutrition, and it is a poor fuel source for dogs. However, this does not mean that dogs should not eat plants because they can contain valuable nutrients so seek out foods that are nutrient-dense. A high carb diet, as found in kibbles, can cause inflammation and metabolic stress in a dog’s body.
Should I fast my dog?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, fasting is a natural thing for dogs in the wild, but, no, you do not have to fast your pet. You should certainly not fast young dogs as they need regular meals throughout the day. If you decide to fast your dog once a week, you will need to increase the size of its meals on the days that you do feed it. Alternatively, you might decide to fast it on stressful days eg long car journeys, vet trips, etc.
Can I mince my own raw dog food?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, most domestic mincers are unable to handle bones, and you would probably nullify any warranty.
Can I raw feed my dog on holiday?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, it is perfectly possible to raw feed while travelling, camping or while on holiday. Just make sure you have a good cooler stocked with still frozen foods pre-made into daily portions. You can then remove one portion every night and allow it to defrost without opening the cooler multiple times per day. Alternatively, use our stockist list to find a convenient business to buy from.
How should I handle raw dog food?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, good hygiene means handling dog food in the same way as you would handle any raw meats or bones ie washing your hands and worktop surfaces after handling and wiping down with paper towels that can be discarded after use. Dogs, however, can tolerate a higher level of bacteria in their food because of their very acidic digestive fluids and their short digestive tract, both of which make it an unsuitable environment for bacteria.
Can I feed kibble or wet with a raw/barf diet for my dog?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, you can feed both raw and kibble, but why? Change can be difficult but, if you believe that one is better than the other, do the one that is better. If it is cost that determines which you feed, bear in mind that kibbles and raw foods are digested at different speeds and require different gut bacteria (biomes).
Where can I buy good quality raw/barf products for my dog?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, good barf mince suppliers can be found on our Stockists page.
The best places to find a supplier for raw meaty bones is a wholesale butcher who supplies the restaurant trade (not a high street butcher)…these are generally found in specialist industrial estates.
Are raw meaty bones expensive?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, raw meaty bones (RMB) are often available free of charge. They should be given whole as chewing provides several benefits eg jaw and upper body muscles are exercised, dental health is improved, puppies satisfy their natural desire to chew. Whether ground-up or not, RMBs still provide many of the nutritional requirements that are so crucial to your dog’s health. Obviously, some older dogs or dogs with an underlying medical condition may not be able to cope with whole bones and, for them, grinding up bones may be necessary.
What is a good raw/barf diet for a dog?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, yes, as part of their diet. Overall, a good raw food diet will conform to the traditional 80:10:10 base (80% meat, 10% offal and 10% bones) with 10 – 20% veg for extra nutrients, minerals and vitamins. We would suggest avoiding leg bones of any animal as these are weight-bearing and generally too hard to be eaten, although the fatty marrow inside is beneficial.
Can I use the online meal plans to start a raw/barf diet for my dog?
In the opinion of SmartBarf™, meal plans aren’t always suitable because it depends on what is available to you. If you can get the basics right, a suitable meal will follow. To help you get the basics right, we have produced a free simplified guide for dog owners at the start of their journey.