Should I feed my dog raw?
So, your greyhound is finally about to move in, and you are wondering what to feed it? Maybe you’ve heard about people raw feeding a dog? We were in this exact position! We consulted all kinds of forums and Facebook groups, watched all the videos YouTube had to offer on the topic, looked at what is commonly fed at racing kennels, talked to other greyhound adopters, and finally sealed the deal after an informative afternoon with a certified animal naturopath.
Our decision was clear:
Raw feeding a dog is an ancient practice, though it is unlikely that our ancestors thought much about it – it was simply a move made out of necessity. Recently, there’s been a resurgence of interest in raw feeding and there are a few theories that have sprung up attempting to optimize the practice. After doing our own research, we settled on a feeding method called BARF. (Haha, I know, right?)
WHAT IS BARF?
BARF is an abbreviation and stands for:
This feeding method consists of raw and fresh ingredients. Its contents and their ratios are based on the anatomical make-up of an average prey animal.
We’re here to help you learn how to raw feed your greyhound in a species-appropriate and balanced way.
WHAT ARE BARF COMPONENTS AND HOW DO I CALCULATE A BARF MEAL?
First off, BARF is not rocket science! However, there are some things you must pay attention to in order to ensure a balanced diet for your pup. We base our BARF portions primarily on the research done by dog nutritionists such as Swanie Simon, Dr Nick Thompson, Nadine Wolf, and the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (among others).
If you are interested in learning more about the nutrient requirements of dogs and different diets in general, I can highly recommend the following book, available in German:
If you just want to have a quick glance at what your dog’s nutritional requirements are, you can find a handy calculator for adult dogs put together by the American National Research Council (NRC) here:
BARF components must be introduced slowly and carefully, so that your dog's digestive system can adjust accordingly.
Read our Blog Post on how to switch your hound’s diet to raw BARF
You can use the following recipe for your healthy, adult greyhound:
BARF classic standard distribution without carbs
Subdivided as follows:
- 50% muscle meat, with a fat content of 15-25%
- 20% tripe
- 15% innards (liver, heart, kidney, lung, spleen)
- 15% raw meaty bones
Subdivided as follows:
- 75% vegetables
- 25% fruit
Learn more about these components here!
Muscle meat refers to meat from various herbivore animal species and fish. Note that the component muscle meat must contain between 15-25% fat. To ensure the best possible coverage of your dog’s nutritional requirements, you should feed muscle meat from at least three different species of land animals – plus fish once a week for vitamin D.
Attention: It is not healthy to feed lean meat only! If you do, your dog will solely metabolise protein for energy production instead of fat, which strains their kidneys and can lead to severe illness.
In well-assorted pet food shops, the fat content of muscle meat will always be indicated. If you buy muscle meat from your trusted butcher, ask them for an estimate of the fat content. If you have to estimate the fat content yourself, take a close look at the piece of meat and guess what percentage of white (=fat) is visible in comparison to meat (=red).
If you choose a lean meat, such as chicken, you still have to achieve a fat content of 15-25%. To do this, replace part of the muscle meat requirement with fat, so that you get the desired fat content within the total amount of muscle meat.
If you choose a more fatty type of meat, such as lamb, you must ensure that the lean meat portion does not contain more than 25% fat. To do so, mix the fatty variety of muscle meat with a lean variety in order to achieve the optimum fat content.
Greyhound-specific info on fat
Greyhounds are sprinters and therefore have a higher need for fast available energy than other breed. Therefore, the muscle meat fat content for the diet of a healthy greyhound is generally in the upper range, i.e. between 20-25%. However, approach this figure slowly and observe how your dog’s weight and digestion changes. If your greyhound maintains its ideal weight and produces solid stool, you have found its ideal fat content! If your greyhound loses weight despite an already high fat content and/or if his feces are too soft, his digestion cannot cope with the increased fat content. In this case you can feed carbohydrates instead of increasing fat.
Tripe is a part of the stomachs of ruminants, such as cows or sheep. It’s mostly made up of connective tissue and is therefore one of the more difficult to digest components of a BARF meal. Basically, tripe is a tasty and cheap bowl filler. Many dogs love this enormously stinky cut. However, its nutritional value is controversial. Tripe does contain valuable enzymes, though only when used fresh from the butcher. As soon as tripe goes through a freezing or drying process, these enzymes get killed off. If you decide to feed tripe, go for fresh, unwashed (=green) tripe so that your dog can potentially benefit from natural enzymes.
Good news for all picky hounds out there! While we can’t substitute the tripe with cheeseburgers, it’s no big deal if you replace it with 50% muscle meat and 50% fruit and veggies. You could even substitute the whole amount of tripe with muscle meat, if your budget allows for it.
Innards are a central component of a species-appropriate dog diet, as they contain essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Ideally, aim for the following ratio:
- 1/3 liver
- 1/3 heart
- 1/3 kidney, lung, spleen (to equal parts)
This ratio roughly corresponds to the size of these organs in an average prey animal.
You’re right! However, the BARF community considers heart to be offal because of its high amount of purine, which is why it shouldn’t be fed in large quantities.
Yes! BUT exclusively:
- Non load-bearing bones from animals turkey-sized and up
- With sufficient meat on it (approx. 50%/50% bone-to-meat ratio)
= Raw Meaty Bones (RMB)
Bones provide calcium and phosphorus, as well as sodium, potassium, and magnesium – all these elements play an integral part in a balanced diet for dogs.
This being said, make sure you carefully and slowly introduce this component into your dog’s diet. This means, starting off with ground, soft bones. Also, always observe your dog while it eats. Never leave it alone when serving raw meaty bones. Everything you need to know about this topic, is covered in our BARF STARTER’S GUIDE.
Never ever feed your dog cooked or dried/dehydrated bones! These processes make bone brittle, porous, and easy to splinter, which can be lethal for your dog to consume. Only ever feed edible bones with enough meat on them. On this note, I’d like to point out that unfortunately, many pet stores still do sell dried/dehydrated bones in their treats section. We implore you to avoid feeding these to your dog under any circumstances. Please don’t buy them.
Any bones that are weight-bearing, such as legs or spine (incl. tails) from an animal the size of a turkey or larger, are too hard for your dog to bite, chew or even gnaw, as they can cause severe damage to their teeth. Many people think it isn’t problematic as long as their dog doesn’t chomp down on one, however, even gnawing meat off bones that hard has the potential to cause microfissures which can eventually lead to tooth breakage. While hungry wolves in forests might take a chance on bones that hard, it is definitely not worth the risk to feed them to your pet dog. No one knows or cares for a wolf with a toothache, while you will definitely feel terrible if your pup has to get surgery because of it. We’ve provided you with a list of bones that are safe and unsafe to feed below.
Yes! If the thought of feeding actual meaty bones to your greyhound makes you feel uneasy, don’t worry – there is an alternative that will cover their dietary need just as well: Bone Meal
While you mustn’t omit the component of RMB completely, you can absolutely substitute it with a high quality bone meal product. Make sure the product you buy clearly declares its calcium-to-phosphor-ratio. Ideally, this should sit somewhere close to 1,3 (Ca) : 1 (P).¹
Once you found a quality bone meal, all that’s left is figuring out how much you need to feed your hound. You can find a trustworthy calculator here: Bone Meal Calculator
¹Bubenzer, R.H.: Knochen- und Calcium-Phosphorstoffwechsel. Effem, Verden, 1994
What bones can I give to my dog?
THESE RAW MEATY BONES ARE OKAY TO FEED
NEVER FEED THESE OR SIMILAR BONES
So, what's the deal with fruit & veggies?
BARF suggests feeding fruit and vegetables as a source of dietary fibre.
On top of that, they also provide valuable secondary plant substances.
In order for fruit and vegetables to be optimally digested and absorbed by the dog’s digestion as dietary fiber, we have to provide it in one of the following ways:
These techniques break down the plants’ cell walls, and thus allow them to be absorbed by a canine’s digestive tract.
Well, I’m not quite sure if they do get electricity out in the woods, however, wolves consume all kinds of fur, tendons, nails, etc., which essentially act as dietary fiber. As it is not quite that easy to get your hands on these kind of things as an average city dweller, we imitate this component with the help of fruit and veggies. This being said, studies did in fact find that even wolves consume herbs, berries, and other plant matter.²
²Müller, S. (2006): Diet composition of wolves (Canis lupus) on the Scandinavian peninsula determined by scat analysis
wHAT VEGETABLES CAN i FEED MY DOG?
NOT THESE VEGGIES
wHICH FRUITS AND BERRIES CAN MY DOG EAT?
Make sure that all fruits and berries you feed your hound are always fully ripened!
NOT THESE FRUITS
Do I need to add a bunch of additives?
Remember that one meal a week should consist of fish instead of muscle meat from land animals. In case your hound just really doesn’t like fish at all, make sure you substitute by using cod liver oil. It provides vitamin D, A, and omega 3 fatty acids – all of which are essential to a balanced diet!
How to calculate: 1 teaspoon per 10kg body weight per week
Other beneficial additives
To put the finishing touches to a balanced diet, you might consider adding:
Want more information on natural additives?
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