BARF Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- BARF Juicy Chicken Recipe
- BARF Juicy Combination Recipe
- BARF Juicy Beef Recipe (5 stars)
- BARF Juicy Lamb Recipe (3 stars)
BARF Juicy Chicken Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
BARF Juicy Chicken Recipe
Raw Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, finely ground bone, chicken liver, egg, broccoli, celery, spinach, carrot, ground flax seed, dehydrated alfalfa meal, apple, pear, grapefruit, orange, dried kelp, cayenne pepper, cod liver oil, garlic, vitamin E supplement, zinc oxide, manganous oxide
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 17.9%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||43%||36%||13%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||30%||61%||9%|
The first ingredient in this dog food includes chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.2
Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The second ingredient includes ground bone, an excellent source of natural calcium.
The third ingredient is chicken liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fourth ingredient is eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The fifth ingredient includes broccoli. Broccoli is a healthy green vegetable and a member of the kale family. It’s notably rich in vitamin C and fiber and numerous other nutrients.
Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is believed to provide anti-cancer benefits.
The sixth ingredient is celery. Although raw celery can be very high in water, it can still contribute a notable amount of dietary fiber as well as other healthy nutrients.
The seventh ingredient is spinach. Due to its exceptional vitamin and mineral content, spinach exhibits a remarkably high nutrient Completeness Score3 of 91.
The eighth ingredient is carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
The ninth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With four notable exceptions…
First, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Next, cod liver oil is a fish oil known to be rich in both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D.
In addition, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.4
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
And lastly, the vitamins and minerals added to this product are not detailed sufficiently here to permit us to judge their quality.
BARF Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, BARF Dog Food looks like an above-average raw product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 43% and a mean fat level of 34%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 15% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 79%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical raw dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a raw product containing a notable amount of meat.
However, the higher fat content associated with the Lamb recipe may not be appropriate for every animal.
BARF Dog Food is a grain-free meat-based raw product using a notable amount of various named species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
For even more raw diet suggestions, be sure to visit the Advisor’s Recommended Raw Dog Foods summary page.
A Final Word
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
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However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.
For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.
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Notes and Updates
01/04/2010 Original review
02/24/2012 Lower rating due to new DFA analysis of fat content
04/24/2014 Last Update
- BARF: Biologically Appropriate Raw Food ↩
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- Completeness Score is a measure of a food’s relative nutrient content and is computed by NutritionData.com from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference ↩
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩