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Raw Feeding Guide for Dogs

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Welcome to the barkinBISTRO Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs

Good food makes your mind, body and spirit feel amazing. Nothing beats fresh meat, whole food recipes created with nature in mind. We are a family run company based in the Northern Ireland who are passionate about the well-being of dogs.

Over a period of time, dogs have become domesticated and have been cross-bred to produce hundreds of breeds, large and small across the world. Despite this variety, dogs still have the same anatomy as their ancestors, with digestive systems that are built to consume and digest raw meat.

Before the introduction of commercial pet food, invented by an American gentleman by the name of James Spratt in 1860, dogs ate table scraps salvaged from their human companions or anything they could scavenge or kill. There was no such thing as tinned processed dog food or kibble.

We now know that processed convenience foods are not healthy for humans, so why would processed dog foods be good for our dogs?

Raw Feeding Guide For Dogs 1
Raw Feeding Guide For Dogs 2

Dog nutrition via a raw diet

Raw dog food is the diet your dog is anatomically designed to eat and digest, and the diet a dog would naturally select if given the choice. A raw diet is designed to give a dog exactly the nutrition they need. There are a few variations of raw dog food diets which range from pure meat recipes to complete meat and vegetable mixes, but these meals contain only pure ingredients that you would find in nature, with no added grains, fillers or additives. And with less waste going in, there’s often less waste coming out. That isn’t the only benefit though. Dog owners who feed raw food report extensive benefits, including an increase in energy, a vitality in both appearance and behaviour, great skin and coat condition, better breath and fewer visits to the vets. Not only do you have a perfectly happy and healthy dog when feeding them raw, it generally saves you money in vet bills too.

Raw Food Diet - Myths

One has to consider that if raw dog food was dangerous, dogs would have become extinct many years ago. Processed dog food is a relatively modern invention, dogs have been eating raw for nearly 15,000 years since they were first domesticated! There are a few misconceptions around the issue of the raw food dog diet which we hope to dispel here as follows:


Raw Feeding Guide For Dogs 4

An argument against the raw dog food diet is that feeding a dog raw meat can lead to bacterial infections. Bacteria are still present on the meat, and just as worrying it could be passed on to humans through poor meat preparation, or via the faeces of the dog. Some people are concerned that a dog’s saliva could pass on these bacteria.

Of course when preparing raw meat one should take the usual precautions that you would when feeding a member of your family, by cleaning the counter, using a clean knife and washing your hands etc.

However, we need to bear in mind that dogs are natural scavengers so are very well-equipped to deal with bacteria. In any event, they are able to deal with the low level of contamination which may be present in fresh uncooked meat. Their saliva has strong antibacterial properties; and their short digestive tract and powerful digestive juices are designed to eliminate food and ‘kill’ bacteria quickly.

Don’t forget that dogs have been roaming the wild for years eating a variety of rotten carcasses, fruit, fresh game, grasses and herbs. They even eat herbivore faeces.

The anti-bacterial juices in their mouth and stomach are highly effective and mean they can eat things which a human cannot.


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Ultimately, dogs, like humans, benefit from variety. It’s crucial to include variety in the diet and to ensure that your dog receives all of the necessary nutrients from many different sources. We recommend feeding different proteins each week (from different animals including chicken, turkey, lamb, duck, fish, beef, pork and use different parts of the animal as long as your dog doesn’t have sensitivities to these. Also add seasonal vegetables (leafy greens are best) superfoods and berries

Rotating the protein sources that you feed your furry companions can make a big impact on their health – for the better.

Every protein provides a different combination of nutrients, and no single protein source can provide every nutrient that your dog or cat needs to be at their optimal level of health. Some proteins have higher fat contents, some are a bit higher in protein than others, and every protein source has its own unique amino acid profile.

Additionally based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) some proteins have cooling, neutral, warming or hot energies, feeding certain proteins can help alleviate certain issues in your pet’s overall wellness. For instance duck and rabbit are considered cooling proteins, these can help pets that are experiencing hot spots and any other skin irritations. Pork and beef are considered neutral proteins, while chicken and turkey are warming proteins and lamb is considered hot, pets with arthritis or joint pain can often benefit from warming or hot proteins.

Keeping their diet varied with any and all proteins that they do well with is the best way to reap the benefits that each protein ha to offer.

Switch from dry food to raw food

How to introduce your dog to raw food

There are two ways to make the transition to raw dog food. First, there is the rapid switch, where you simply replace the old food with the new raw food. This type of switch is recommended for young dogs or those with a normally functioning gastrointestinal system. Second, there is the gentler approach, a slow switch, which can help fussy eaters or dogs with delicate guts. There are a number of reasons why this slower transition to raw food is often preferred (by dogs and owners alike):

Your dog’s digestive system requires different enzymes to break down a high-protein, raw meat and bone diet to those needed to break down a high-carbohydrate, processed diet (such as kibble). As such, the pancreas needs time to adapt to both the amount and type of enzymes that it produces for this type of change in diet.

The good bacteria produced in the digestive tract – known as gut flora – are also different for dogs fed on a predominantly meat and bone diet, and it can take several weeks for this gut flora to re-stabilise following a major diet change. These good gut bacteria are responsible for the production of certain key nutrients, as well as the production of gas in the bowel.

Dogs that are fed on a high-carbohydrate processed diet often have more alkaline stomachs than those fed on a predominantly raw meat, high-protein diet, which results in a strongly acidic stomach. A dog fed a diet that nature intended will have stomach acids so strong that they would actually burn the flesh off your fingers. This helps them to break down the bone, muscle, offal and other components of the raw food that they would naturally hunt and kill in the wild.

In addition to the process of digestion being different, the speed at which different foods are digested is also different. Meat and bone are digested a lot faster than carbohydrate-based, processed foods.

The two ways to switch to a raw diet;


1. Fast your dog for a period of 12 – 24 hrs. Begin feeding on a new day.

2. Start with a poultry protein such as Chicken, Turkey or Duck. These proteins are often easier to digest, which will result in a quicker and easier transition.

3. Serve the first raw meal at room temperature. Food that is icy cold from the refrigerator can cause your pet to vomit. Waiting for food to be warm also enhances the food aromas.

4. Offer ½ the recommended serving. Wait 10 – 20 min. before offering remaining portion. This prevents over eager eaters from eating too quickly and regurgitating the food.

5. Exclusively feed each variety the first time for a few days, before moving onto the next to help with digestion.


1.Over a period of 5 – 10 days begin to replace the current diet with raw:
-Days 1 & 2 = 25% Raw
-Days 3 & 4 = 50% Raw
-Days 5 & 6 = 75% Raw
-Day 7 = 100% Raw

2. Start with a poultry protein such as Chicken, Turkey or Duck. These proteins are often easier to digest, which will result in a quicker and easier transition.

3. Serve the first raw meal at room temperature. Food that is icy cold from the refrigerator can cause your pet to vomit. Waiting for food to be warm also enhances the food aromas.

4. Day 8 - Exclusively feed each variety the first time for a few days, before moving onto the next to help with digestion.

After the Switch

During the transitional phase into a raw food diet, the first 7 – 14 days, your pet may experience
some digestive upset including wind, loose stools, mucous in stool, and may even vomit bile
(yellow or white phlegm).


The enzymes required to break down a high quality protein, raw meat and bone diet vs a high carbohydrate and processed diet are very different. The pancreas has to adapt to both the type and of enzymes it produces. Adding a probiotic supplement such as organic natural bio-live yogurtto your dogs first raw meals can make this transition easier.

The amount of bile required to break down raw food is substantially less because the food is 60% – 70% moisture. A dry food diet must be rehydrated before it can be digested, and the excessive amounts of bile in the gut help with this. Once you introduce a raw diet, your dog or cat may vomit bile as their stomach has not yet made adjustments to the amount of bile required for proper digestion. This is often temporary. Offering a dry treat can help settle the stomach if you notice your pet feels nauseous.

Dry food expands to 2x – 5x its size during digestion. This process stretches the gut and gives your pet a full sensation. Switching to a raw diet will mean a higher calorically dense diet, but with less volume. You may notice that your pet seems hungrier sooner (as the food digests quicker) and your pet may be asking for food more frequently (as they don’t get that full sensation). The stomach will adjust and these sensations will be less noticeable in 7 – 10 days time.

The gut flora (bacteria and enzymes) are different for dogs fed a high carbohydrate based diet vs. a high protein, raw meat and bone diet. It may take several weeks for your dogs digestive flora to adjust. During this phase your pet may experience some excess gas, and may even feel nauseous.

Your dog’s stomach pH will change, as a high carbohydrate diet results in a more alkaline environment. As the stomach adjusts, it will create a strong stomach acid to break down foods quicker. This is healthier and more natural for your pet.

Use our raw food calculator to find out how much raw food you need to fed your dog based on age and weight.

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