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The below post was initially published on PetPav as a guest post by ME.
When I researched raw feeding, I learned that the two main models are BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) and Prey. After more than two years of feeding raw to my dogs, I’ve found that the main difference between BARF and Prey seemed to be the amount of bone and the vegetables.
BARF Model vs. Prey Model Raw Feeding
- 60-80% raw meaty bones, which are bones with 50% meat still attached (turkey necks, chicken backs, duck wings, etc.)
- 20-40% fruits, veggies, offal (organ meat), muscle meat, eggs, and/or dairy products
- 80% muscle meat
- 10% offal (half of the offal is liver)
- 10% bone
Introducing the FrankenBARF Model of Raw Feeding
In April 2013, I transitioned our dogs to a raw diet prepared and delivered by Darwin’s Pet, a local company that ships raw meals nationwide for dogs and cats. Their food includes muscle meat, organ meat, bone, vegetables, fruit, and supplements – all ground (or left whole) together in a yummy dose of healthiness.
Premade raw is the way to go if you can afford it. With four big dogs, we couldn’t continue feeding them 100% premade, so I joined a local raw food co-op and made raw dog food at home. Because our dogs did well on the BARF model, I followed the model at home.
I immediately came up with one problem – I couldn’t find all the ingredients I needed. The grocery store doesn’t have a large variety of muscle and organ meat. I don't live near an Asian supermarket (which tends to have more options). And our butcher is expensive.
So I started piecing together a BARF-ish diet for our dogs that I call Franken-BARF.
The FrankenBARF Model of Raw Feeding
- 80% muscle meat (alternated weekly)
- 10% raw meaty bones
- 10% offal and liver (50%/50%)
- additional heart (pork or beef) to cover vitamin B
- fermented vegetables
- eggs for a multivitamin
- raw goat milk, kefir, and fermented fish stock for digestive enzymes and probiotics
- whole sardines for Omega-3 fatty acids
- oysters for zinc
Believe it or not, my model is close to balance, because I make a point of learning about the nutrients my dogs need in their diet. I do focus on balancing over time instead of per meal, which is easier for me, and I add supplements based on my dogs' needs.
Sounds complicated? I thought so too, at first.
When I started making raw dog food at home, I quickly became overwhelmed, because everyone has advice on what you should and shouldn’t feed your dogs. There are plenty of books, YouTube videos, and websites that offer guidance as well. Information overload happened quickly and then a friend advised me to feed my dogs what they need.
Feeding Our Dogs What They Need
After typing that last sentence above, I laughed, because two years ago, I would have responded: “what the hell does that MEAN?”
We have four dogs that have different needs, and I started adjusting their diets to accommodate those needs. I also began paying attention to their poop (yep, gross, but educational) to learn more about what our dogs need. This daily examination helped me determine that two of our dogs have protein allergies (confirmed by our vet) and one of our dogs wasn’t getting enough fish oil.
From there, I made adjustments to their individual meals – and it worked!
Where do the Veggies Fall in Raw Feeding?
Although I believe dogs are carnivores, I also think vegetables have a place in their diet and I feed them to my dogs because…
- They provide nutrients and antioxidants, which help fight cancer.
- They are an excellent source of fiber, which supports a healthy digestive system.
- They help a dog feel fuller faster (great for dogs on a diet).
- They’re a healthy snack, and my dogs love them.
I also go the extra mile and ferment the vegetables to provide a natural probiotic and support the gut, which in turn, helps to promote a stronger immune system.
While some raw feeders believe vegetables are unnecessary fillers meant to save money; I disagree. While they don’t replace ingredients in a balanced raw diet, I believe they can boost a diet, making it healthier.
A FrankenBARF Recipe
To get a better idea of what I feed my dogs, you can check out the Recipes tab above or see the most recent “easy raw dog food recipe” posts below:
- Are Raw Goat Neck Bones Safe for Dogs?
- A Quail and Green Tripe Raw Food Recipe My Dogs Love
- 6 Ways Pumpkin Guts Can Boost Your Dog's Health
- DIY Fermented Fish Stock for Dogs
- Easy Raw Dog Food Recipe with Ground Quail
If you want to learn more about transitioning your dog to raw dog food, you can check out the following posts:
- 5 Steps to Transition a Dog to Raw Dog Food
- A Simple Plan to Transition a Cat to Raw Cat Food
- Transition a Dog from Kibble to Raw Dog Food
Also, there is a fantastic online course for folks new to raw feeding that takes the pressure off as well: Raw Feeding 101.