Changing to BARF

Changeover to Species Appropriate Raw Food diet, often referred to as SARF.

When our carnivore companions eat diets with high carbohydrate, high plant protein and lower meat protein, it has been found that the acidity level of the stomach begins to decrease (gastric acidity relates to meat protein), and the stomach becomes progressively more alkaline (PH 4 and above). In this less acidic environment, several key issues arise;

  1. 1. With the altered PH, gastric digestion and emptying slows down
    2. With the altered PH, food bacteria and contaminants are not destroyed as effectively
    3. With the altered PH, raw bones and bone material is not softened and broken down effectively (digestive enzymes loose function) and this can result in obstruction.


These problems become apparent when a dog that is fed a highly processed diet is offered a raw bone, or a meal of raw meat. Because the stomach acidity is directly dictated by the meat protein content of the diet, these dogs already have a less acidic stomach, which is not able to soften and breakdown raw bone material, nor is the stomach PH able to cope with a load of bacteria. The result can be a sudden “rejection” of the bone and/or meat, in the form of vomiting, or it can take the form of a bout of acute gastroenteritis, from an overgrowth of bacteria, or it may result in a bone obstruction in the stomach. With the delayed gastric emptying effect, any bacteria that do survive are now, also able to grow up into much larger numbers, and this effect is continued in the large bowel, with further fermentation of the plant fiber, and a delay in overall gut transit time (12 to 24 hrs) – this can also result in constipation from excessive water re-absorption, or in very loose stools from the over production of short chain fatty acids in the colon.

The problem is that it takes from 7-10 days on a meat based diet for the gastric acidity levels to drop down to the natural (preferred) PH 2 level, so it is not possible for the body to quickly accommodate to such diet changes.  (Dr. Jeannie Thomason)

Please note the following procedures are general guidelines but they should get you thinking in the right direction and help you make a decision as to how you will go about the changeover process.

This changeover can be quick, straightforward and trouble free but you need to consider your family pet and his/her current diet. If your family pet  has some experience of eating a variety of home produced foods, cooked or raw, it will tend to be easier and less likely they will suffer from any tummy upset, diarrhea or vomiting. However with a dried food/kibble diet the change can be much more dramatic for their system.

We use and suggest 2 methods of ‘changeover’ to the SARF diet, “Quick ” and “Slow.” (Chicken is often used when changing dogs over to raw as it is an easily digestible protein source)

Please note: Calculator > dogs weight in kg x 2.5-3% ( for adult and healthy weight dog ) = amount of food in grams

Quick Changeover

This is very easy, make the change today!!  Yesterday your family pet was eating dried food/kibble or tinned food. Today they are eating SARF.

Before making the quick changeover, you will need to consider whether your pet is suited to this method. The quick changeover is the most preferred, simplest, most trouble free and successful method for dogs particularly young and or healthy dogs.

When using this method you need to allow your dog at least 24-48 hours without any solid food, by doing this you are giving their digestive system a rest, this encourages a deeper healing (ALWAYS ENSURE THEY HAVE PLENTY OF FRESH DRINKING WATER) giving them this detox time without any solid foods or treats of any kind for the full 24 hours will be the most beneficial. If you prefer, you can also split their daily food requirement into two or three smaller meals.

Please note you should never fast a puppy under the age of 12 months/1 year old.

In some cases your dog may experience diarrhea and or a small amount of vomiting, this may include undigested food this is normal, it can take a while for the good bacteria to build up in the dogs digestive tract, especially if they have always been fed dried biscuits and or been given regular antibiotics or medication.

Diarrhea shows us that the colon is trying to quickly flush out toxins and or other irritants, remember diarrhea is a symptom and not a disorder.


Slow Changeover

This changeover method should not take any longer than 1 to 2 weeks, depending on your pets circumstances but in extreme cases can take up to 1 month.

You can feed one meal of a SARF diet followed by one meal of their old  food  gradually reducing their old food. If there are no problems early on in this method it is a positive indication that they have a strong and healthy digestive system and you could continue with the Quick Changeover method.

Some People suggest feeding dried/kibble and raw food together (as one meal) to phase through the changeover, we advise against this as kibble food takes longer to digest and feeding both foods together generally results in the increase of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Puppies generally require up to 10% of their body weight.

Fully grown dogs:

2%  if your dog is overweight
2.5% – 3%  to maintain ideal weight
5%  to fatten an underweight dog


See the below table for a few examples:
(please note these figures are based on fully grown dogs)

If your dog weighs:  You should feed (either in 1 or two meals) per day:
5kg 125g – 150g
10kg 250g – 300g
15kg 375g – 450g
20kg 500g – 600g
25kg 625g – 750g
30kg 750g – 900g

Remember these are guidelines and the % of food you feed is also determined by the level of exercise and activity your dog receives.You may have to adjust the amounts up or down to get the right balance but you will achieve this in no time and your pet/s will be eating the way they are born to.