Nutrition and Raw Feeding


The raw-food diet is also known by a kind of funny acronym: BARF, which stands for Bones and Raw Food. That, in essence, is the focus of the diet: raw poultry and uncooked bone, with ground vegetables added.


A raw-food diet does not mean that you can feed your Ridgeback raw hamburger meat and call it a day. At least 60 percent of what you are feeding MUST contain raw, uncooked bones. Without this bone source in his diet, your puppy will leach calcium from his own bones and develop orthopedic problems that are entirely avoidable.


DO NOT switch to a bone-free diet.


If you live on Long Island or in the metropolitan New York area, the best source for your raw-fed Ridgeback is Armellino’s, a butcher located on the Nassau/Suffolk border. Joe Armellino takes the very best quality raw chicken (it is hormone, antibiotic and pesticide free, and certified organic), grinds it up so that there is no danger of your dog choking on the bones, and adds an assortment of pulverized human-grade vegetables. The meat is packaged in two-plus-pound tubes and then deep-frozen. All you need to do is thaw, add some supplements and extras, and feed.


If you don’t live close to Armellino’s, you may want to consider investing in a basement freezer and buying several months worth of food at a time. At 89 cents a pound, it is very reasonable and probably better quality than the meat you eat yourself!




25 North Melville Rd.

Huntington Station, N.Y. 11746

(631) 271-6599

Ask for Joe the butcher. Tell him you have a puppy from me.


Directions: LIE or Northern State to Route 110 North. At Jericho Tpke/Route 25, make a right. Melville Road is the third light. Make left, then another left into Armellino’s parking lot.



Frequently Asked Questions



Why feed a raw food diet?

Commercial dog food may be more convenient, but it is decidedly less healthy for your Ridgeback. Kibble contains poor-quality protein that is often not humane grade, as well as additives, preservatives and countless chemicals. It’s basically like raising your dog on McDonalds.


A raw diet, by contrast, is bioavailable and uses only the freshest ingredients. Nutrition is the cornerstone of health, and will keep your puppy’s immune system vibrant. That, along with limiting vaccines, will go a long way to ensuring your dog’s long-term health.


What can I expect from a raw-food diet?

First off, your Ridgeback will be lean and will grow slowly and consistently. He will have less of an odor than kibble-fed dogs, and will be far less likely to get allergies or ear infections, a common problem in the breed.


Your dog’s stool will be much less than a kibble-fed dog – about a third – and it will not smell as foul, because it contains no preservatives. If you forget to scoop it, after a week or so it just turns white and disintegrates. Poof!


Are there any disadvantages to feeding a raw food diet?

As with anything in life, there are safeguards to consider. Bacteria in raw meat does exist, but most healthy canine digestive systems are well equipped to handle things like salmonella and E coli. Human digestive tracts, however, are not, so it is important that you observe proper hygiene and wash your hands and your work area, just as you would if preparing raw meat for yourself. Be sure to clean the dog’s bowl with hot soapy water after each feeding.


If you have immunocompromised humans in the household, or very young children, as I do, you can simply cook or sear the meat?


Impaction and perforation are a concern if you are feeding whole bones, but since the Armellino’s meat is ground up, this is not an issue.


The biggest risk to feeding raw is “migrating” off the diet and not providing the proper bone content. If you follow the above guidelines, you’ll be fine.


How do I know if I am feeding the right amount?


In this, use common sense: If your dog looks to thin, feed him more; if he looks to chubby, cut down on the amount you are giving him.


Rule of thumb: The average raw-fed dog consumes about 2 percent of his body weight in meat daily.


Can I feed anything else other than the poultry-veggie mix during weekdays?


I suggest the poultry because it is most affordable, at $2 for a 2 ¼ pound tube. But Armellino’s also sells ground lamb necks, ground veal necks and ground duck, all with veggies, for $3.50 a tube. All of these have similar bone content, and you could substitute any of them for a weekday feeding – in fact, the more variety you can provide, the better.



Feeding Schedule


If possible, feed three times a day until your puppy is six months old.


After six months, feed twice a day until puppy is one year.


You can switch to once a day at one year, or keep feeding twice daily.


Please keep a close eye on your puppy’s weight and silhouette. As your puppy grows, increase the amount of food. I have found that most puppies need a carbohydrate source (such as rice or pasta) added to their diet during later puppyhood because their metabolism is so fast that they literally cannot get enough nutrients from a raw-only diet.


If you have any doubt about the ideal weight for your puppy, please do not hesitate to contact me.



1/8 to ¼ tube of Armellino’s poultry, lamb or veal mix (with ground bone and vegetable), cooked or raw


If you feed a home-cooked diet, it is crucial that your puppy have a calcium source. This is why I recommend the Armellino’s product: The bone is ground right in. (If you do not live on Long Island, I can provide you with a list of recommended raw or canned-food manufacturers.)


The more variety of meat you can provide, the better. I use the poultry mix as a base because it is the most reasonably priced. For weekend meals, you can switch to meat that does not have ground bone in it – Armellino’s sells bison or beef heart, or you can give leftovers, etc.


¼ cup rice or other cooked grain. Discontinue if your puppy begins to look too chubby!


½ teaspoon fish body oil (Note: This is not the same as cod liver oil!) You can buy a big jar of fish body oil at CostCo for a very reasonable price. Until your puppy is big enough to swallow the gel cap, stick a pin in it and squeeze the contents on to the food.


If you are willing to spend a little more for an excellent quality source of fish-body oil, I recommend the salmon oil from


1 hard-boiled egg

1 cup whole milk


Maintaining adequate calcium levels until your puppy reaches 7 to 8 months of age is crucial. The signs of inadequate calcium levels include flat feet and “flying nun ears.” It is crucial that you contact me if your dog’s ears are not lying flat and seem to be crinkling or folding: If this is not dealt with by 4 months age, the ears can and will stay that way!


Multivitamin. You can use a human vitamin (One a Day). Use an appropriate size vitamin or a portion of a vitamin that corresponds to your puppy’s weight. You will have to crush the vitamin into a powder until your puppy is old enough in a few months to swallow it whole.


If you are willing to spend a little more for an excellent quality multivitamin, I recommend Canine Basic Nutrients by Thorne Research (available from


Vitamin E. Buy the gel caps at your local drugstore or supermarket. Again, until your puppy can swallow the gel cap, squeeze it out for him.




1/8 to ¼ tube of Armellino’s poultry mix (with ground bone), cooked or raw



1/8 to ¼ tube of Armellino’s poultry mix (with ground bone), cooked or raw


“Extras” that can be given once or twice a week: cottage cheese, yogurt, leftovers (including grains and cooked meat, just no cooked bones)