The benefits of natural raw foods are noticeable almost immediately. Healthier, cleaner teeth & gums, a healthy shiny coat, improved energy levels, increased mobility in older arthritic dogs, stronger immune system, less doggy odor & improved breath, smaller stools, slower more steady growth rates in puppies, etc.
There are a number variations of the BARF diet, some include grains, others totally exclude them, others include dairy products, others again exclude them. The diet is as individual as the people feeding their dogs. Best is to read as much as you can and determine your own path.
VEGETABLES & FRUIT
Vegetables and fruit play a small but essential role in the overall health of our pets. Because dogs have a very short intestinal tract they cannot efficiently process vegetable fiber. In the wild, a dog would obtain most of the vegetation material through the process of eating the intestines and stomach contents of their prey. To effectively emulate this process for our domestic dogs, it is necessary to break down the fiber of the vegetable/fruit material . This can be easily done with a juicer (using the remaining pulp), a food processor, a blender or a grinder.
The best and most important vegetable to use are dark leafy greens, such as: romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, turnip greens, collards, parsley, cilantro, dandelion, etc. You can feed other veggies too, but in smaller amounts than the leafy greens. Broccolli, cauliflower, cabbage (careful with these 3, they can cause gas, and avoid in dogs with thyroid problems), carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, yellow squash, beets all have high nutritional value. Also usable occasionally but with less nutitional value is cucumber, celery, zucchini, lettuces other than Romaine. Raw potatoes should not be fed, other vegetables from the Nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers & eggplant) can be fed in small to moderate amounts but are best avoided in an arthritic animal as they may aggravate the condition. The only vegetable that would be considered absolutely off limits is onions. A small amount of fresh ginger root and garlic is an excellent addition to the veggie mix.
Fruit is best used ripe to over ripe. Typical fruits found in a BARF diet: apples, bananas, pears, melon, mangoes, berries etc. Fruit should be fed only in small amounts and ideally fed separately from other foods, at least a couple hours away from other meals...fruit is digested much faster than meat and veggies are..... feeding too much fruit with the meat, bones and veggies can cause the food to start to ferment in the gut! That said, small amounts of fruit mixed into the regular meals is well tolerated by most dogs.
Variety is the key to success. Alternate 3 - 4 vegetables. Buy in season produce and be sure to use your vegetable trimmings from your own meals.
The above-mentioned vegetable pulp can be mixed with raw minced meat and formed into patties. These patties can be made daily, however most people find that they can be easily frozen and taken out as required. The patties consist of roughly 50% vegetables and 50% raw minced meat (you can use chicken, beef, lamb) To this mixture you can add such things as yogurt, raw eggs, raw liver, garlic, kelp powder, Vit. B & C This should be mixed into one homogeneous mass so that your dog cannot pick out only the pieces he likes.
These are larger bones like beef knuckle or shank bones. Recreational bones are for chewing and gnawing, rather than eating entirely. This action cleans teeth and massages the gums. Recreational bones should ideally be offered a few times a week, or daily with a teething puppy.
Organ meats, such as liver, kidney, heart, tripe should be fed in small amounts several times a week. These can be either ground and added to the meals or given in chunks. Organs are very rich so too much can cause loose stools. If you feed chicken backs, take a close look at them, they often have nice pieces of kidney and sometimes lung as well attached to the spine!
Some of the most common supplements to add to the veggie patties are Apple Cider Vinegar, Kelp, Alfalfa, Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin's B, C & E, and a high-EFA oil such as Flaxseed Oil or ground flax seed, Hemp Seed Oil, Salmon or Fish body oil, or Arctic Vigor. The freezing process destroys some of the benefits of some of the supplements (especially Vitamin E) so it is best to add them just prior to feeding.