Frequently Asked Questions      

How do I get started?
The most important step is the first one.  Prior to that, however, it is important to take sime time to reasearch the raw diet (hopefully that is why you are here!).   Go to our "Recommended Reading" page and purchase a few of the books listed there.  Ask other raw feeding Breeders for information, and consider joining one of the BARF Chat Lists that are available (go to and search BARF will find quite a few lists dedicated to the subject).

Most dogs do fine being switched cold-turkey.   We suggest starting with one or two foods at a time and letting their bodies get used to the new foods before you start feeding them more variety.   Some dogs will be hesitant to eat chicken with bones in it.  In this case, we suggest grinding it or lightly searing it for taste.  Usually they'll be off and running in no time.   Wait to add the richer foods, such as liver and eggs, for a few weeks. 

How much should I feed?
Every dog is different.  2% of his body weight daily is a good place to start and then adjust everything up or down, depending on your dogs condition.    We've found that when we "tweak" the chicken, we see a change in weight faster than if we "tweak" the other ingredients.  For instance, a dog we are trying to keep weight on will receive chicken backs (with fat attached) and a dog we are trying to keep weight off of will get a back with fat removed, or necks instead.

Can I start an older dog on BARF?
Absolutely!  However, we would suggest a visit to the vet and a complete blood workup in the case of very old dogs.  This is to ensure that there is not another problem coming on which might be mistaken for a change in diet.  For older dogs, it is best to start out with a bland diet and keep the fat content lower.  We would also suggest adding yogurt with live cultures to aid in digestion.

Should I be concerned about Salmonella poisoning?
According to the FDA, salmonella is not harmful to otherwise healthy dogs.  Be smart in preparing the foods though, to protect yourself and your family.  Don't leave chicken for the dogs out any longer than you would if you were feeding it to your family.  Wash hands and keep food preparation surfaces clean.  We keep a spray bottle with water/bleach handy, and simply spray down the area and wipe after preparing each meal.  

Can raw bones cause choking or puncture the intestines?
First, let us please remind that ALL BONES MUST BE FED RAW.  It is cooked bones that become sharp and splintery, resulting in the old "no chicken bones for the dogs" adage.  Raw bones are fully digestible and it is not only normal, but healthy, for dogs to eat them.  Never in our years of feeding have we had a dog choke on a bone, or have a problem with digestion, blocked intestines due to bones etc.  In fact, we've found that the RMB meals are digested much more quickly than the kibble that we fed previously.

What actually are RMBs & Recreational Bones? 
Raw Meaty Bones (as referred to over and over again in most BARF literature) are bones that are soft enough for the dog to chew up and eat  ie. chicken or turkey carcasses/backs/necks/wings, lamb necks, oxtails etc.  Recreational bones are larger bones that you will give your dogs to chew, but not eat through ie. beef femurs, knuckle bones etc.

How do I go about finding a Raw Meaty Bone supplier?
Contact your local butcher or Wholesale Poultry Distributor.  We purchase chicken directly from the source since we buy in such large quantity.  This enables us to purchase chickens the day they are butchered to ensure freshness.  For the meat mixture, our butcher grinds everything we request and freezes it in 5lb bags.  These days, there are also many prepared raw diets on the market.  They can be expensive, but are also very convenient.  Another resource for suppliers is the International Purveyor Index.  Insert your zip code to find a supplier near you.   It will certainly pay for you to shop around for prices, as well as buy in bulk, as you will pay nearly twice as much at your local grocery store.

Is it important to feed a variety of meats?
We do find it advantageous to give a variety of meats, since they vary in what they offer nutritionally.  Typically we recommend feeding both poulty and meat "from the hoof" (beef, lamb, elk etc.) daily, as well as fish.  That said, you will find that many speciality suppliers now offer a wide variety of exotic meats now...bison, emu, kangaroo, pheasant, game hens etc.  These are all fine to feed, but not essential to a balanced diet.  Typically they are very expensive and offer little additional nutritional value over the more accessible meats.

Should I or should I not feed grains?
There are various opinions on grains.  Most feel that grains are not a natural food for dog and thus, that dogs do not need any grains.  In addition, grains are full of carbohydrates which are converted to sugars in the body.  It is perfectly healthy for a dog to eat some grain, however, it should be a very smally part of the diet overall.  You will notice that in our diet, we include soaked oats.  However, each large dog will only eat about 1 TBSP of oats in a day.  Grains are also a major source of allergies in some dogs.  If in doubt, we would suggest removing the grains from your dog's diet.

What supplements should I be giving?
When a well-balanced diet is fed, the need for additional supplementation should be minimal.  We have found that every dog needs different vitamins and minerals for optimum helath, so do add some things to their diet (see our Supplement page).  However, when possible, we try to feed foods that contain what each individual dog needs, rather than offering an artifical supplement.  This means that some dogs get more green leafy veggies, other more fish, liver etc.

Do I have to chop or puree the veggies?
Cell walls of plants (fruits and veggies) are made up of cellulose, which dogs cannot digest, so it is recommended that veggies are finely chopped, juiced etc.  Cooking also destroys the cell walls, however it also removes other nutrients.  Our suggestion is to prepare "Veggie Glop" in large quantities and then freeze in smaller packages, suitable for daily usage.

Can I feed chicken leg quarters?
Yes, however there are two drawbacks to feeding these.  First,  the weight bearing bones are naturally harder, which precludes them for smaller dogs,  and Second, the thighs do not contain the proper calcium:meat ratio (much more meat than bone).  We will feed these periodically when we're traveling, but would not consider making them a staple of our diet.

How can I get my dog to stop gulping down his chicken?
Rottweilers, by nature, will chomp once and then swallow.  To teach them to chew before swallowing try using larger RMBs like chicken backs and turkey necks.  Avoid chicken wings and necks until your dog has proven that he will chew the food.  We have also found that feeding the "gulper" his chicken partially frozen will encourage him to chew it more thoroughly.   Another option is hand feeding,  holding onto the bone while they chew the meat off.  This generally only works well for smaller dogs (ours can wrestle the slippery chicken out of our hands pretty easily!).

Is there a benefit to grinding RMB's?
We find the chewing of whole RMB's to be very satisfying for the dogs.  It is also good jaw and upper body exercise for the pups and older dogs.  Chewing the bones themselves is what helps to keep the teeth so clean and white.   We do at times though get a dog in for showing whose owner is worried about choking on bones.   In these cases, we order whole chickens ground by our butcher (I'm far to lazy to grind myself).

Is it safe to feed pork?
Pork can be fed safely, however to avoid the possibility of trichinosis, it is recommended that it be frozen at zero degrees for three weeks.  It is safer to buy human-grade inspected pork.  Personally, we avoid pork, other than to share a bit of cooked pork off of our own dinner plates.

Why does my dog's coat look worse since switching?
Shortly after changing over from processed dog food to raw, your dog's body will begin to rid itself o the toxins and impurities while adjusting to the proper nutrients.  You may notice that your dog's coat conditioned has worsened, or that he/she may have a bout of vomiting or diarrhea.  This is all part of the normal detoxification process.  Be sure to provide lots of fresh water at this time and consider adding vitamin C and pure pumpkin to the diet.  This process is usually over with quickly and the dog looks and feels better than ever in the end.

What if my dog gets too heavy, or is too lean on the raw diet?
If a dog is too heavy on the raw diet and you have already cut back to smallish quantities, we would suggest a few things.  First, if you are offering carbohydrates (grains, sweet potato...), remove these.  Second, try removing the skin from the chicken or switch from chicken backs to necks or wings which have a bit less meat.  If a dog is too lean on the raw diet, make sure to give the very meaty portions of the chicken, with the skin and also add a cooked sweet potato daily.  In both cases, if you find it difficult to get your dog in the correct weight, a trip to the veterinarian is in order to rule out a thyroid condition, parasites etc.

What if my dog has diarrhea?
Diarrhea may be brought on in a beginning BARF dog due to the normal detoxification process (above) but can also be the result of adding too many new foods too quickly.  Try going back and adding one food at a time to try to determine the culprit.   You may also want to try a good Probiotic to aid in digestion, as well as yogurt.  You may also want to consider whether you are giving too much vitamin C.  Vitamin C is water soluable and often exits the body via loose stools.

What if my dog gets constipated on the BARF diet?
It is common to see white crumbly stools from a raw fed dog.  However, if the dog seems constipated, try reducing the recreational bones and raising the amount of veggies and oil a bit.  Real pumpkin will also help reduce constipation (helps loose stools as well).

Do I have to fast my dog once a week?
We don't.  Plain and simple...I hate skipping meals so I don't ask my dogs to either.

What about feeding both Kibble and BARF?
We fed half and half for years, mainly for convenience.   If you are going to feed kibble, be sure to thoroughly research the kibble as well as you have the raw diet.  A link to a kibble comparison chart is at the left. 

Will feeding raw meat make my dog vicious?
You're kidding, right?  This is a MYTH.  There is no relationship between eating raw meat and wanting to kill an animal.  Killing animals has to do with natural prey drive.  Dogs with excessive prey drive will enjoy chasing and killing, regardless of what they eat.  Consider stock guardian dogs.  They not only protect the flock, but are often fed that same meat.  Dogs can easily distinguish these things.  You didn't find that he wanted to kill the pet food store employees because his food came from there, did you?