What Is the BARF Diet for Puppies?

Feeding your dog natural food is a good idea if it's done right, but can it also be applied to puppies? Let's find out.
What Is the BARF Diet for Puppies?

Last update: 25 July, 2022

Proper nutrition in the puppy stage is essential for the animal’s development and to ensure sound health going into adulthood. That’s why many people wonder if a BARF diet for puppies is adequate for their health and future.

The fact is that bringing a puppy home is always a reason for joy, but, for many, can mean plenty of headaches. Possibly, their feeding is one of the most tricky aspects, so, in this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the BARF diet at that time of their lives. Don’t miss it.

What is the BARF diet?

BARF diet for puppies.

First of all, the most important thing is to define this term. You may well have heard it everywhere for a few years now, as it was created in the 1980s and became popular from 1993 onwards in the rest of the world.

The acronym BARF stands for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”. Therefore, the idea of this diet is to offer a diet based on raw food, not feed, and adapted to the needs of the canine species and of each individual dog.

Put more simply, it’s about preparing a diet for your dog just as you would do for yourself, but taking into account their nutritional needs as a canine. That said, the question arises as to whether a puppy can take this type of diet. Let’s see.

Can a puppy take this diet?

There’s no problem if you want to use a BARF diet for puppies. Bear in mind that, if they were living free, they would start eating the same food as their mother as soon as they stopped nursing. The right age to start the transition is a month and a half.

In large breeds, this figure is extended to 18-24 months of life.

In fact, a properly designed BARF diet provides excellent health benefits for the little one. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Prevents skin problems, especially allergies.
  • Provides more energy, since it’s balanced according to their needs.
  • It helps to develop good muscle mass.
  • Prevents oral problems, such as tartar and gingivitis.
  • Improves capillary health.
  • Provides good hydration through intake.

How do I elaborate a BARF diet for my puppy?

To design a BARF diet for puppies there are 2 pillars you need to know: the amount of food they should take and their nutritional needs. Let’s have a look at them in detail.

Age-appropriate amount of food in a BARF diet

Puppies need more food than adult dogs, because they’re constantly growing. While an adult consumes 2.5% of its weight (on average), take a look at the needs of the younger ones:

  • 2-4 months: they consume 10% of their weight.
  • 4-6 months: 8% of their weight in food.
  • 6-8 months: the amount decreases to 6 %.
  • 8-10 months: they should eat 4 % of their weight in food.
  • 10-12 months: at this stage, prior to adulthood, it drops to 3 %.

Puppy nutritional needs

From the time of weaning, the puppy’s nutritional needs will vary depending on the stage of growth. To give you an idea, until it reaches 50% of its adult weight, it’ll need 3 times its resting energy requirement. This figure will drop to 20% when it reaches 80% of its weight.

On the other hand, fats and proteins are also essential at this stage, because if they aren’t properly controlled, it’s very likely that musculoskeletal problems will appear in adult life. A puppy needs 22.5% protein and 8.5% fat in its diet, both of high biological value.

Vitamins and minerals are also essential at this stage. Keep in mind that the puppy is also developing its immune system, its bones are growing, its digestive system is changing, and its nervous system is also developing by leaps and bounds.

Considerations when choosing a BARF puppy diet

Dogs eating.

Many people are attracted to this type of diet, partly because it’s specially designed for each individual puppy and partly because it’s perceived as a higher quality food than commercial feeds. However, the following points should be kept in mind:

  • It’s a much more expensive diet than one based on feed.
  • It requires time to prepare it, as it must be varied and prepared every day.
  • You need to carry out an exhaustive study of the specific needs of the specimen and its way of life.
  • It isn’t considered suitable for dogs that take 100% vegetable feed, as a natural vegetable diet would require too much supplementation.
  • The food should be given raw, which increases the risk of contracting certain diseases. Even so, meat can be frozen to prevent some of them.

Ultimately, the best way to know if it is appropriate to give a raw diet to your puppy is to go to the veterinarian and get advice. You can also hire the services of people specialized in this type of nutrition to elaborate the whole process. Above all, remember that the BARF diet requires your constant attention to be complete and nutritious at any age.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Mack, J. K., & Kienzle, E. (2016). Inadequate nutrient supply in” BARF” feeding plans for a litter of Bernese Mountain Dog-puppies. A case report. Tierarztliche Praxis. Ausgabe K, Kleintiere/Heimtiere44(5), 341-347.
  • Thes, M., & Dillitzer, N. (2017). Balanced feeding of puppies with raw food-how can we check the nutrient supplementation?. Praktische Tierarzt98(7), 646-663.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.