Vitamins, Minerals and Homemade BARF Dog Recipes

By Robert Mueller, R.Pharm.

Often times I hear about pet owners that, for various reasons, decide it will be better for them to make a home-prepared raw dog food diet for their pet.  I’ll admit that there may be some benefits to going this route but you’ll have to have plenty of time on your hands to make it happen…get it right.

While you may be able to save a few dollars by making it yourself  (which is definitely something to consider) you must be sure not to skip, skimp or overload on any of the necessary ingredients.  Remember…a raw diet is just like any other – it’s all about balance!  This is even more important if you are creating a diet for a dog with severe food allergies to certain ingredients.

If you do plan on making raw meat dog food yourself, there are some things that are essential to your pet’s well-being and long life that you must pay attention to with regard to vitamin and mineral content.

Vitamins for Dogs

In terms of health, excessive supplementation is not a huge concern if the vitamins that are being over-supplemented are water-soluble, as any excess can easily be passed out of the body through the urine.  However, my concern is the over supplementation or improper use of mineral and vitamin supplements that are fat-soluble.  Vitamins A,D,K, and E are all fat-soluble vitamins which can become harmful to your pet if given in excess.  An excess of certain minerals can also affect the absorption of other much needed nutrients in the body and should therefore be carefully monitored.

Calcium Supplements for Dogs

My other concern regarding homemade raw dog food diets is that in most cases, the recipes for these diets are not sent out to a proper lab for nutritional analysis.  I have found several “BARF” dog recipes (in no way associated with BARF World) circulating the Internet that are shockingly unbalanced, and in fact, can cause skeletal issues in growing puppies.  Veterinarians understand this very well, which is why you’ll often find them advising against a home-made raw food diet for dogs. Getting the calcium/phosphorous ratio right can be very tricky.

Even if the pet owner has a decent BARF dog recipe, it’s very common to find certain hard-to-source ingredients being replaced with inappropriate substitutes. The perfect example is raw green bones and their calcium/phosphorous content.  The calcium/phosphorus ratio is the most critical ratio to pay attention to because the reversal of this ratio can cause long-term skeletal issues.

Many people making their own BARF diet have trouble grinding the green bone sources. What usually happens is that artificial calcium sources are used in place of the hard to grind bones…and the body can only marginally utilize this source of calcium.

Bone meal is another calcium source commonly used as a substitute in homemade raw diets.  I strongly advise against this mainly because it is a product of the animal rendering process.  Rendering plants (there are over 250 of them in operation in the USA today) are the scavengers.  They collect, among other things, dead, diseased, and inedible animal remnants from slaughterhouses, grocery stores, animal shelters – even roadkill – and boil them down in huge vats to be used for various human and pet products.  Meat By-Products and Bone Meal come from rendering facilities and are often staple ingredients in many commercial pet foods.  So if you are making your own raw diet – please don’t replace your green bone source with bone meal or meat by-products.

At BARF World, we have vast experience, longevity, knowledge, and incredible success with our ready-made BARF Diet formula.  To make sure of this, we send each BARF Diet® formula to a third-party testing facility for nutritional analysis.  Why risk the chance to make a wrong decision on feeding your pet a biologically appropriate diet?

I commend you “homemade” BARFers out there who are doing it right!  There is nothing healthier and more healing for your animal than a properly prepared raw food diet …made with the most important ingredient of all…. LOVE!  My recommendations and suggestions regarding supplementation and balance when preparing and feeding a nutritious raw diet are based on 38 years of experience in this field.


ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. Click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!


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Constipation On A Raw Dog Food Diet

By Robert Muellertoilet paper puppy

“Is it normal for my dog to be constipation when on a raw diet?”

This is a question that we get asked every day from pet owners that are new to the concept of raw food for dogs and cats.  They expect normal bowel movements when feeding dogs raw meat so when either diarrhea or constipation occur, they become alarmed that their dog might be having a major problem.

Let me first clear up a common misconception, and that is, that it is not normal for your pet to have a consistently well-formed stool every single day of a their life.  It sounds strange to say, but there is a reason why your pet’s stool cannot be uniformly predictable.   Your dog and your cat will receive a variety of food, treats, bones, and perhaps table scraps each and every day, which means that each meal will have a slight variation of ingredients.

There are other factors that may affect your pet’s digestion process, such as stress, medications, exercise, and illness.  Each of these factors affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract which can result in either diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation.

And yes, it’s true that a dog that is fed exactly the same food every day of her life, that has never been fed off the table, is never given treats of any kind, never allowed to scrounge around outside and snack on things she shouldn’t, and is so healthy that she is never given medication, can be the perfect specimen for having a healthy, well-formed stool every day.

But as we pet owners all know, having a dog this perfect is not as easy to come by as we would like.

BARF World’s philosophy of how to properly feed a dog is based on Mother Nature’s most appropriate food for the species. A dog’s natural diet is made up of bones and raw food (BARF), which are found in the prey they catch or in the dead carcasses they may stumble upon.

It’s true that a dog that consumes an adequate portion of bone in the diet will have a tendency to have a consistently white, chalky stool, and at times, may experience some slight constipation.  In these cases, constipation is normal and will resolve itself on its own.  However, if the symptom continues, there are some simple tricks that can help to relieve the problem:

  • First, if giving your pet raw meaty bones as a yummy chew, reduce the amount of bones to once week.
  • Another quick and easy solution is to add some extra fruit to your pet’s meal.  This is a well accepted way to temporarily regulate the bowels.
  • Canned unsweetened pumpkin can also help to ease straining.
  • Finally, if that doesn’t resolve the issue, try Nux Vom, a homeopathic remedy great for pets and people that helps relieve symptoms of nausea and indigestion, vomiting, and (of course) constipation.

It is interesting to observe and compare the difference in stool volume, color, and odor of dogs fed raw food as compared to those fed dry dog food (kibble) or canned pet food.  The difference in the animal’s utilization of nutrients in each diet is obvious when you immediately notice that the dog fed raw food has 25 to 30% less stool volume than the dog fed processed pet food.  This indicates a more efficient utilization of ingredients from a raw dog food diet.  The raw diet produces a chalky white stool that is consistently smaller in volume and has almost no odor.  These improvements are welcomed advantages for dog and cat owners, especially those with large and giant breed dogs.


ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of “Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. He and his wife love to travel around the world with their dog, Moxie – a Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese mix. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” monthly e-zine at The Intelligent Pet.

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Why Do Dogs Get Diarrhea On Raw Diets?

by Dr. Cathy AlinoviFleisch für den Hund

There are two different times dogs may have some diarrhea with raw diets: at the initial transition, then later down the road.  Okay, so that may be a no-brainer, but its important to distinguish, as the causes are different.

Let’s start with soft stool at the switch to raw food:

For many dogs, this is a dramatic change – their intestines are used to the super processed, really hard, dry, crunchy stuff.  Dogs who were used to eating kibble drank gallons of water to digest their food, partly because many of those foods were really high in salt.  So, their bodies are used to drinking a ton of water. When all of that water isn’t needed any more, there can be some soft stool the first few days after the transition to raw.

Another reason why your dog’s tool may be soft is that doggies need to wash some of the toxins out of their system – and there are different products that can help with detoxification, which I will go over later.

What about “soft serve” stool later, after your dog has successfully switched to raw?

These reasons can range from an intestinal virus, aging, and variation in food or treats. Just like us, dogs can have a little intestinal flu from time to time.  As long as there isn’t also vomiting, sometimes it’s as easy as giving your dog some bentonite clay in their food or water for a few days to firm up the stool.

Sometimes the problem is that our pup is aging and, where he could once digest cold, raw food with no difficulty, he may now need some help in the form of digestive enzymes and/or probiotics (like E-BARF Plus).  Simply warming the food to room temperature by mixing in a little warm water might also help.

Realistically, while we have been trained to expect every bowl of food to be identical to the last (although we humans do not eat this way), there is batch to batch variation as food sources may vary.  Every plant and every animal is different from the last, so sometimes sensitive tummies will make a little squirt at the end of digestion.  If your pup’s tummy is that sensitive, you will know it…and in these instances, she will do well with digestive aids.

In an ideal world, every dog eats raw with no trouble and fully assimilates each meal.  In the real world, dogs have been overbred, over-vaccinated, and overmedicated – thus, they don’t digest as well as they could. That’s why these dogs often need a touch of digestive help.

To be thorough – let’s talk about vomiting, which can go along with diarrhea.

If there is vomiting: take away all food and water for 24 hours.  If there is more vomiting, take your dog to the vet ASAP.  This is a sign of something very serious.
If after 24 hours, there’s no more vomiting, you can offer small amounts of water once an hour until your dog no longer guzzles it up.  (If vomiting returns – this is a medical emergency.)  If after 24 hours of just water, there’s still no vomit, then slowly give very small meals and get your pup back to speed eating.

Other digestive emergencies:

Red or black diarrhea or vomit: this is blood and this is bad.  If you know a toy or an object is missing, don’t wait – take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.  If the vomiting clears up, the diarrhea usually does also.  Nux vomica helps with vomit and diarrhea in cases where you know your pooch gorged in the trash can.  Diarrhea that lasts longer than 5 days in an adult dog is also reason to go to the vet.

May your pup have great stools and keep food moving down the escalator through the trash heap!

Dr. Cathy Alinovi is the owner of Hoofstock Veterinary Service in Indiana. Certified in Veterinary Food Therapy, Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, and Aromatherapy, Dr. Cathy’s approach provides whole body support through both the best in veterinary medicine as well as high-quality, all-natural foods, supplements, and health care products.  She offers phone consultation services as well as in-office appointments. Visit for more information.


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Bubble, Bubble…Toilet Trouble

 by Evan PriceLabOnToilet_cropped

Now that Halloween has been placed squarely in the rear view mirror, we all start to look forward to the next major holiday. Thoughts of sugar-filled sweets are replaced by thoughts of turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. This also happens to be the time when we most often see pets with digestive issues (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and flatulence). Knowing what to do when your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea is important. Knowing how to prevent these conditions before they start is key.

It is normal for a pet to feel under the weather from time to time, in the same way that we sometimes feel a little bit sick. Once in a while, this will even be accompanied by diarrhea or vomiting.

Vomiting usually occurs under one of three conditions:

  1. A dog has eaten too much food.
  2. A dog has eaten food too quickly.
  3. A dog has been introduced to a food (or combination of foods) that caused digestive disruption.

I emphasize the combination of foods for a reason. Even if the majority of the diet is raw meat, if a highly cooked, or otherwise processed item is given, there is a high chance of digestive upset. This means that the little piece of cooked turkey that you gave your dog as a treat actually may have done more harm than good. This is the same philosophy we share with split feeders, but it applies to the holiday season as well.

Raw foods are in and out of the system quickly (4-6 hours from mouth to tail). Foods that have been cooked are harder for the body to break down and take double the time to digest (about 8-12 hours). When there is such a difference in digestive time, the pancreas gets confused and does not know what kinds of digestive enzymes to produce. The result can be…messy.

Despite this warning, there are those that will continue to feed table scraps during family get togethers. Maybe their dogs have never gotten sick before from a little human food as a treat, and ultimately, it is their choice. But as we know, age humbles us all, and the ability to handle these types of indulgences decreases over time. If you plan on indulging your pet, be prepared if trouble should arise.

Make sure to have these items on hand this holiday season:

  • Nux Vom is a great cure for RTS (rumbling tummy syndrome). This powerful, yet harmless homeopathic remedy stops nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in their tracks.
  • Luxolite clay helps to extract toxins from the body, and supports digestion, circulation, and proper liver and kidney function.

And of course, no conversation of digestive aides is complete without mentioning E-BARF Plus. This veterinarian formulated probiotic helps to support a healthy immune system and provides vital enzymes for improved digestion.

Until next time, happy BARFing

Evan Price is a Raw Pet Food Specialist for BARF World Inc. He is a true dog lover at heart with a particular interest in Daschunds. Evan is also an avid sports enthusiast and bridge player. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet weekly e-zine at The Intelligent Pet.

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