RAW FOOD: BARF stands for Bones And Raw Food although some commercial producers now prefer Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. A typical BARF diet consists of raw meat, ground bones, fruits and vegetables.

Advocates say that a BARF diet is natural, that dogs are modified wolves and wolves eat bones and raw food. They say that dogs are healthier when they eat raw food, that they have less periodontal disease, better immune systems, fewer anal sac problems, shinier coats and better psychological health.

At the London Veterinary Clinic we feel that home cooking is good for dogs but the reasons are not necessarily those that advocates of BARF diets use.

Dogs are not wolves in disguise. Mentally, they are not pack animals as wolves are and physically they are quite dramatically altered. For example, a dog’s brain is one third smaller than a wolf of equal size and its intestines are 20 per cent shorter (on average 4.4 meters long compared to the wolf’s 5.5 meters). We feel that ‘natural’ does not always mean ‘better’.

Raw meat has a much greater potential for bacterial contamination than cooked food. Bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter are a health hazard, curiously more to you and your family than to your dog. We suggest that if you feed your dog fresh meat that you use the same good kitchen hygiene standards you use if you and your family eat meat, and that the meat is cooked sufficiently to destroy contaminating bacteria. If feeding vegetables, cook some of them. Cooking makes vegetables more digestible for dogs.


Chewing on bones is a good way to prevent periodontal disease. In our experience the risk of cracking teeth is outweighed by the advantages to good gum health. We recommend providing your dog with bones under supervision.  

Growing pups have unique nutritional needs. For example, too much calcium is as dangerous as too little calcium. We strongly advise that unless you follow advice from a qualified canine nutritionist, do not feed a homemade diet to large or giant breed puppies.

Ashley McManus RVN can discuss with you the variety of foods that use human-grade ingredients derived from organically grown or raised sources. For further information on raw diets visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_feeding.<

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