Happy Spring!!! Today is the first day of spring and it’s a great opportunity to try a fresh, delicious, detoxifying spring treat you can share with your dogs and cats!
Fresh Herbs: MY FAVORITE!
If you haven’t tried incorporating fresh herbs yet in your pets’ meals yet, spring is a wonderful time of year to try adding some fresh herbs in their diet!
Did you know herbs are not only tasty, and enjoyed by most dogs and cats, but also some of the most nutrient dense foods you can offer your companions (and enjoy yourself)?
One the the easiest and tastiest ways to add a bit of fresh herbs to your dog/cat’s diet is to make a home-made pesto that you can drizzle over meals — yours and theirs!
If you are unsure if your animal will enjoy the strong flavor of fresh pesto, it may be a good idea to try offering it alone first before adding to their meals, or mix some of the pesto into something they really love. For dogs, this may be fish/seafood or Green Tripe. For cats, they may enjoy their pesto is teeny amounts; added to a dab of butter or lard/duck fat with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast or drop of two of tamari. YUM!
- 1 cup organic parsley or cilantro leaves
- 1 cup organic basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon organic mint leaves (cats may prefer fresh catnip leaves – yes, you and your dogs can eat this, too!)
- 1 tablespoon organic oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons organic raw tahini (you can use different seeds or nuts for this, but we think tahini adds the best flavor – avoid using macadamias or walnuts, which are both toxic to pets!)
- 1 tablespoon organic lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 clove organic fresh garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon/pinch of Himalayan pink salt
- Freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste
Get creative and try other herbs, if you’d like – for example, dill is another nice herb most pets enjoy. Do not use onions, chives, leeks — these are all toxic to dogs and cats.
Your dog/cat will let you know if they want more or less. Trust their judgement — animals are amazing herbalists!
Your pet can have a little bit of this tasty treat every day; you can enjoy as much as you like, too!
Serving Suggestion: Use a little pesto or plain tahini and a bit of pesto in a Nori sheet — just remember that cucumbers, carrots and other veggies need to be cooked/steamed or very thinly grated for safe feeding to your dog/cat — they can’t easily digest vegetables. I don’t recommend using peppers or tomato. Celery, avocado, cucumber, carrot, cauliflower, cabbage are all OK. Sprouts are an awesome addition! Or try mint with a bit of mango (peeled, ripe/mashed), teeny bit of sliced dates or dried figs, and avocado — delicious!
Additional Serving Suggestions: If you have organic avocados and organic pastured eggs, you can also use this pesto to top a delicious dish off with (see below for the recipe) – it’s another great meal that you can share with your animals as a treat.
Of, if you have picked up some delicious organic quail eggs and some nice, lean pastured red meat (beef, elk, venison) from SFRAW, you can make some steak tartare to share and this pesto would make a nice accompaniment.
Easy Baked Avocado Stuffed With Egg
- 1 organic avocado, halved and pitted; peeled (do not feed the pit or peel to your pet — these are the dangerous bits of an avocado — otherwise, they are perfectly safe and healthy to feed dogs & cats — just not OK for birds!)
- 1 tsp organic extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 organic pastured eggs
- 1 small handful of chopped organic fresh parsley or dill, chopped
- A shake of organic ground sweet paprika, turmeric or cumin powder (yes, dogs and cats can have this, too!)
- Himalayan pink salt and organic freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Brush or drizzle the avocado halves in olive oil and crack the eggs into each hole.
- Place the egg-filled avocado halves onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the avocado halves for about 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked.
- Take out the avocado halves and sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs, spices, salt and pepper.
- Allow to cool first before serving to your pet. Alternatively, your pet can eat this raw and not baked — if they prefer it this way! Just be sure to remove the peel — the peel is not safe for your dog or cat to eat!
- How much can they have? one 50-lb dog can eat 1/4 of one avocado with egg (1/2 of one half); an averaged sized adult cat can eat 1/8 (1/4 of one half) of the avocado/egg.
10 ounces high quality, truly pastured red meat; very lean (beef, elk, venison – elk or venison must be frozen before eating raw), hand cut into ¹/8-inch dice
3-4 organic quail eggs, beaten (quail eggs are safe to eat raw — they are traditionally used in tartare because they do not present the risk for salmonella!)
1 organic anchovy fillet, chopped
1 tsp organic capers or 1 gherkin, rinsed and chopped finely
1 teaspoon fresh organic lemon juice
½ tsp organic wheat-free tamari sauce (optional)
4 additional quail eggs, sliced open with quail egg scissors (yes, we sell these at SFRAW!)
Microgreens for side garnish (optional)
Organic extra virgin olive oil (drizzle over, at serving)
Fresh pesto — on the side, for dipping (see above)
- Defrost and hand-chop the meat. Trim off any fat, then thinly slice the meat first. Cut each slice into matchsticks, then cut across into small cubes.
- Crack 3-4 quail eggs (discard of shells or give to your pet to eat), whip with the chopped anchovy, gherkin/capers, lemon juice, tamari, salt and pepper until well mixed. Delicately add chopped meat and mix very lightly; just enough to combine and coat the meat with these blended ingredients. DO NOT OVERMIX. Refrigerate for one hour.
- Shape the meat into two round patties, using a chef’s ring if you have one, and place on serving plates. Top with a quail egg, sea salt and pepper. Snip off one tablespoon of microcress/rinsed & dried sprouts and scatter around, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve with a side of the pesto and sliced cucumbers, turnips, raw seeded crackers (make sure they are grain and onion-free) or baked or dehydrated, thinly sliced, organic peeled potato (Japanese Sweet Potato works nicely for this).
- How much can they have? one 50-lb dog can eat up to 8-10 oz; an averaged sized adult cat can eat 2 TBS.
So long as your pet is healthy, they can share healthy food with you. Fast foods, fried foods, junk, packaged and processed foods are not good for you or your animals – please do not eat them or share these with your animals.
However, wholesome, fresh, whole foods that are organic, healthy, not too high in fat (be careful of overdoing it with rich foods), low in sodium, and include 100% pet safe ingredients are not only A-OK to share with your furry family members, but this is precisely how we ALL prepared meals for our companion animals for — well, since forever! – well before there was ever a pet food industry telling us not to!
Sharing food with your beloved animal family members is a wonderful way to bond with them and to make meals times more fun and enjoyable — the love that goes into making yummy treats for them is good for their overall health and wellness. These foods and sharing meals is also good for you! 🙂
When sharing meals, just be sure you know which foods are safe for dogs & cats to eat (my next blog post will review this topic for raw feeders/fresh food feeders — many lists that you find online are inaccurate, at best!)
Also, please understand that the above recipes I’ve shared here are in no way “complete and balanced” for everyday feeding. That being said, you can certainly add a bit of the above pesto to their daily meals without concern for harming your pet. You can share these snacks with your dogs or cats a few times a week. Also, these treats do “count” as “food” nutritionally — so, if they get a significant amount and not just a bite or two, these treats/meals should be fed in place of their usual meals (and can be done without concern over creating a serious imbalance in their diet, on occasion).
QUESTION: “Our healthy 5-year-old greyhound just had baseline labs done, and we were all shocked to find her T4 level off-the-chart high. Range is .8 – 3.5, and her value was 8.8. She does not have any symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Greyhounds often have low thyroid conditions, not high. Our holistic vet asked if her diet includes neck bones, which they do. She probably eats 3 or 4 neck bones a week, turkey or lamb. Apparently she could be ingesting a thyroid gland or hormones. Has anyone heard of this risk? We are eliminating neck bones for one month and then will retest. If it’s not diet related, she thought it might be a tumor. I hate the thought of that. – Michele, Thursday, January 28, 2016”
ANSWER: Hi Michele, Thanks for posting this interesting question! It’s a good topic to review.
I am glad to know she does not have any symptoms of hyperthyroidism, but because this value was so high without any symptoms, I would first suggest running the test again now to make sure there wasn’t an issue with the test itself before you make changes to the diet. She may certainly be one of the dogs that is experiencing dietary induced hyperthyroidism (which is easily reversible, thankfully!), but you’d want to be sure the test is accurate as it is still quite rare.
Yes, newer research has indicated an association between the regular feeding of necks, trachea/gullets and/or head meat, either fed raw or given as dried treats, and hyperthyroidism in some dogs. Hyperthyroidism is incredibly/terribly commonplace and prevalent in cats; but not so for dogs – most dogs with thyroid disease exhibit symptoms of/will be diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive), not hyperthyroidism (overactive).
The feeding of neck bones (chicken, lamb, beef, etc) is incredibly common and popular in raw feeding, as these bones are some of the safer options for RMBs– soft/not weight bearing, easy to find and easy to feed – but there is this new research that shows an association with a possible risk of hyperthyroidism. The information we have so far is from some rather small samples of patients and we have been feeding a lot of raw necks/tracheas/gullets to lots and lots of dogs for many years without seeing this as a major issue/risk…but, obviously, for some dogs (perhaps with an underlying predisposition or perhaps when this is the only or predominant RMB being fed?) this is a problematic food that should be avoided or at least minimized through feeding more variety (indeed, completely eliminated & avoided until the tests results are back to normal).
The good news is that 100% of the dogs that had elevated levels/hyperthyroidism while consuming head meat, necks or gullets all reverted back to completely normal once these possibly gland-tainted bones were replaced with other RMB options.
I concur with the following analysis and good suggestions from Dr. Becker about this topic – this is another issue that proves feeding a wide variety of different foods is vitally important (no matter what you are feeding) to avoid overdoing any specific nutrients or causing even rare dietary imbalances such as this:
“To avoid diet induced hyperthyroidism in your raw fed pet, my recommendation is to make sure you are feeding a variety of protein sources and cuts of meat (thigh meat, etc.) so that your dog isn’t eating a steady diet of raw meaty bones/necks that could contain active thyroid tissue.
If your pet is a healthy, raw-fed dog, it’s not necessary to go out of your way to avoid foods that may possibly contain thyroid tissue. The studies I mentioned above involve a very small number of dogs that I suspect were eating the same cuts of meat (necks) for a prolonged period of time. Thankfully, their hyperthyroid conditions were easily reversed with a simple dietary change, but this study reinforces my belief that pets need a variety of different meat sources (and body parts) for overall health and wellbeing. So if you’ve been feeding poultry necks regularly as the foundation of your dog’s raw food diet, consider changing up your recipe to include other cuts (wings and backs) and diversify your protein sources.
I also recommend you keep an eye out for symptoms of hyperthyroidism (and any other possible illness) in your pet, and see your veterinarian for regular wellness checkups that should include measuring your dog’s blood thyroid hormone levels.”
Even though it is a rare condition, I hope it is indeed from the necks and that, after making an adjustment to her RMB selections, her values will revert back to normal. I hope it’s not a tumor, too (even though this is the more common reason for hyperthyroidism in dogs).
Along these lines, it is important for all raw feeders (cats & dogs) to be sure to not overfeed iodine containing foods such as kelp/seaweed and even too much fish. Remember: variety is key & everything in moderation! Kelp is an excellent, and even necessary, part of a balanced raw diet, but feeding far too much of it can cause problems with thyroid health. Just be sure you are following a good dietary guide, never overdo any single component or ingredient, and try to not get into a rut of feeding the same things endlessly/over & over – this is, again, another reminder of why it’s SO important to mix it up!
Lastly, if you feed the very same thing to a population/sample of dogs (or cats), over time, we know that select individual animals are going to respond in unexpected ways to foods that work nicely/are well tolerated by the majority – for example, dietary hyperthyroidism is something I would consider somewhat rare and not usually a risk for most dogs.
Finally, when considering thyroid health risks, another thing to consider is trauma to the neck from collars and other equipment –the use of certain collars have shown an association with damage to the thyroid gland (and trachea). It is best to avoid these types of collars, IMO: http://peterdobias.com/blogs/blog/11015137-choke-prong-and-shock-collars-can-irreversibly-damage-your-dog
Hope this helps!
UPDATE: Feb 2, 2016
Just to follow-up on the inquiries about the thyroid/glandular tissue on the trachea, gullet or GreenTripe products that include these ingredients. This is a question/concern (not a dog that actually had the condition but just an inquiry about the risk) that came up within our group a few years ago, actually and they get this question from time to time. I talked to them about it a few years ago, but I confirmed everything again with them today:
The USDA slaughterhouse they source their ingredients from is instructed to remove all glandular tissue before they get the product. In addition, GreenTripe does their own inspection of their ingredients, with removal of any extra tissue possibly attached to the trachea/gullet at processing or packaging. While the proximity of these tissues to these body parts may possibly allow for minute levels of contamination, these parts do not have any glandular tissue attached when sold or used in processing. Lastly, in all the years they have been selling these products they have not had a single incident of a dog that experienced a change in their regular panel laboratory tests/exam results related to the inclusion or exclusion of these foods and thyroid function/health.
I also got confirmation that the USDA inspected beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, etc. necks we sell are cleaned of all glandular tissue at processing. We do not source necks that would possibly have this tissue attached. But again, due to proximity of these parts to the glands, minute levels may possibly be consumed in this way. I cannot possibly imagine that it would be enough to cause diet induced hyperthyroidism from these specific foods/cuts — *maybe* possible in a dog with an existing sensitivity and if necks were being fed as the only source of RMB for an extended period of time and/or fed in excess.
Sourcing is key! For example, in one of the case studies that was pointed to in the report I posted earlier – this was a study with a sample of just TWO dogs, living in the same household, that were getting whole heads from a local slaughterhouse which caused the thyroid condition. Not USDA-inspected meat. I cannot find the sources for the meats in the other two small sample studies, but I do wonder if this was USDA inspected meat fit for human consumption or animal feed grade, or from animals butchered at a small local facility that slaughters/butchers animals for personal or CSA “direct-to-consumer” use only (not for retail sale/not USDA inspected). One of the studies referenced this condition being related to the regular feeding of dried gullet/trachea pet treats– these were not USDA inspected products. There is a difference.
Please understand that I do not find the small direct-to-consumer non-USDA slaughter/butcher/processor option necessarily problematic at all (this is how MOST high quality local producer-run CSA or “direct to consumer” operations manage their processing) but for this specific issue, there would be a possibility of getting the whole animal back with all parts attached after processing at one of these facilities, or for them to give someone free/cheap scraps for their dogs that would contain these tissues. Whereas this is simply not possible when a rancher/producer sends their animals to slaughter in a USDA facility and have the parts USDA inspected for human consumption/resale. This is tightly regulated by the USDA, and it is the reason why we can’t get some really cool parts we’d like to from our current suppliers. Many people don’t understand that the rancher has to buy back the meat from their own animals after processing from the USDA slaughterhouse. They simply can’t get back the whole animal broken down into all the tissues/parts 100%, even if they wanted to – they can only get USDA-inspected and permissible parts in return and many times they struggle to get even basic offal like liver, kidney, and hearts.
BUYER BEWARE Unfortunately, many commercial pet foods on the market can & do use meat that is not USDA inspected. I have seen a lot of them that claim ingredients from a “USDA facility” and this generally means the food and meat used has not actually been inspected & approved by the USDA (“USDA inspected”). This practice appears to have caused diet induced hyperthyroidism in at least once case cited on a blog (see link). The dog’s levels went back to normal after being 4x the norm when put back on a DIY home-prepared raw diet: http://truthaboutpetfood.com/diet-related-hyperthyroidism/ This is only one of the many safety and quality issues I have with pet food ingredients that are not “fit for human consumption” and/or USDA inspected and approved.
SFRAW does not sell ANY products that would fall under this category with the exception of two pet food producers we have worked with for many years and trust completely:
1) GreenTripe (pet food sourced meats/cuts from USDA facility, under special USDA-orders, that we have confirmed are directed to remove this tissue & re-inspected by GreenTripe at processing)
2) Hare-Today whole prey and whole ground animals. The whole prey will include the whole animal with all glands/fur/feathers. I think these are great products and a wonderful option for those willing to feed this way. Over the years, I have feed my own animals a lot of these foods, in rotation with other foods (Remember: moderation and VARIETY is the best way to reduce risks of all sorts!)
As a CDFA licensed and inspected pet food manufacturer, and by our own code of ethics and standards, the SFRAW Grinds & Formulas use only 100% USDA inspected “human-grade” meats & parts with this tissue removed.
That being said, it will be interesting to learn how Michele’s Greyhound, Lexy, does after her change in diet and re-testing. I hope she reverts back to normal quickly. It would be very good news if it were a sensitivity this individual dog has that caused diet induced hyperthyroidism because it is completely reversible and her dog will be ok with a switch to wings, backs, etc. and removing any neck region foods from the diet (any commercial foods that may contain ingredients from the neck/head region or using meats that are not 100% “USDA-inspected”, Xkaliber, GreenTripe with Trachea & Gullet, Hare-Today whole animal grinds, whole trachea or gullets, dried trachea or gullet treats, and all neck bones or heads).
Hope this helps with those concerned or those that just enjoy learning more about this topic.
UPDATE: Oct 28, 2016
After a trial of changes to her diet and retesting to evaluate her thyroid health, we last heard from Michele that Lexy was eventually diagnosed with hypothyroidism after all! Her veterinarian and family concluded that Lexy had been experiencing thyroiditis in Jan and that the necks, etc. in her diet were not the primary cause of her unusual laboratory findings. They are happy to report that they were given the OK to include more necks in her diet (her favorite) and she continues to feel and do great! We’re so happy to hear this news for Lexy and Michele! And, for others that were concerned, this conclusion removes a direct link/blame of her lab results on the feeding of necks and GreenTripe products and shows that she actually had an underlying thyroid disease (common in her breed) that is now being managed and treated.
Hope this helps those wondering about this topic to make more informed choices when feeding a natural diet to their dogs!
RELATED QUESTION Tuesday, March 14, 2017
ANSWER: Hi Aaron, This condition is INCREDIBLY rare! In fact, it is so rare, that I’ve only know of one single dog in the history of my raw feeding experience (since 1989) that experienced a related issue. Upon taking her off the neck bones and GreenTripe with Trachea & Gullet, her values did improve immediately. However, she then became hypothyroid, and it was determined that she was just a dog with a problematic thyroid disease. They determined that it was far more of an issue of her own body, than her diet or exposure to iodine or thyroid issues. Here is another great article about this topic: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2014/11/04/hyperthyroidism-dogs.aspx
All of the meats used in SFRAW Grinds & Formulas are 100% USDA licensed and inspected food that is 100% fit for human consumption, which means it is not at high risk for contamination with glandular tissue.
In addition, all of our raw meaty bones sold at SFRAW (not including GreenTripe or Hare-Today pet food products) are also 100% USDA licensed and inspected food for humans to eat, and have been cleaned of glandular tissue according to the USDA guidelines and the amount, if any, would be absolutely minuscule.
Our Chicken, Duck, Turkey and Rabbit Grind & Formulas include the entire whole bird or rabbit. When we can, we include the necks and heads and feet — these parts are not always available, but we try to get them, and include them, when we can because I think they provide additional nutritional benefits.
Our Lamb, Beef and Pork Formulas & Grinds do not include any heads or necks/neck tissue at all – below please find the ingredients used from the animal(s):
LAMB = Lamb Trim, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tongue, Lamb Breast Bones, Lamb Liver, Lamb Kidney.
PORK = Pork Bnls/Snls Leg, Pork Heart, Pork Tongue, Pork Liver, Pork Spleen, Pork Kidney, NOW Brand Bone Meal Powder.
BEEF = Beef Bottom Round, Beef Heart, Beef Tongue, Beef Liver, Beef Spleen, Beef Kidney, NOW Brand Bone Meal Powder.
The beef is the only one that could possibly include gullet and trachea (these parts are exclusive to beef/ungulates) — but they are not used/present in our ground foods.
If you buy our stuffed, dried or raw beef tracheas that we offer, you may be feeding some minuscule amount of glandular tissue. We think this is safe for 99.999% dogs.
BTW: the dog that experienced the hyper-t was eating a diet of kibble, and she was given turkey, duck and lamb neck bones for her RMBs, and fed GreenTripe Xkaliber or GreenTripe with Trachea & Gullet. As far as I know. she did not feed SFRAW Grinds or Formulas. She has since gone back to feeding some of the previous foods as her issue was resolved and has been managed with medication – see above for full details!
Hope this helps!
Sincerely and in good health to you and Daisy,
How much will it cost to feed my dog through SFRAW? (note: the below prices are for current dues paying SFRAW members; membership is $80/yr to shop at the 30% discounted pricing)
How much it costs to feed your pup will depend a lot of how you go about it and what proteins work best for him/her, there are a lot of factors involved and each one will have an influence of the cost – the price per pound will vary significantly based on what flavors/proteins and ingredients your animal best enjoys eating, can not only well-tolerate but, indeed, thrive on.
When switching to raw, we suggest starting with one flavor/protein. Most people choose a lean white meat to such as chicken, turkey or rabbit (select a protein that you know they do well on from past experience/foods). Then, over the course of 4-6 weeks, it is important to work up to feeding a nice variety so that you are easily rotating between 4-5 different flavors/proteins.
Variety is critically important for nutritional balance and health, so you don’t want to feed just one flavor endlessly. We can’t emphasize this enough! Too many people find a thing that works, but then get into a mode of feeding that very same thing endlessly to their animals. This is “red flag” danger-zone raw feeding behavior! It will work for a while, but I guarantee you that, eventually, this way of feeding will catch up and your dog/cat will end up with either food allergies/intolerance or other nutritional imbalance problems. Yes, even with a “balanced” prepared food – the truth is that a “mono” or limited diet is never ideal for us or our carnivore companions. Please do not get complacent or stuck in a rut by feeding the same thing for too long – variety is KEY and the very best way to ensure not only that you are providing your animal with genuine nutritional balance for the long-term but also prevent food intolerances/allergies.
Average cost when”You Make it” through SFRAW: If you decide to make your own food, buy in bulk, portioning out, and packing up meals at home (we can help you put a balanced menu together) – most people will spend around $3.50-$4.50/lb. on average. This is to feed either home-cooked, BARF, Frankenprey or Prey Model Raw; no treats/supplements; no fasting days. This will provide a nice variety of 3-4 proteins: high quality meat, bones, organs, seafood + tripe; a combination of cuts that range in price from $0.50/lb to $6-7/lb.
So, for a 50-lb dog eating the suggested 2% body weight (1-lb/day) you can expect around $120/month. If you add in treats, supplements, splurge items or “extras” you can expect to budget around $150/month.
Again, this is an average and estimate for most dogs this size/average activity level,. Every dog has their own unique metabolism, and individuals may require far more or less than this to maintain an ideal body condition.
Average cost when “We Make It”: Most people start with the SFRAW Grinds, Formulas, or Prey Model Packs (basically, it’s the formula “deconstructed” and plated — so. Nothing ground up — all the various parts & pieces of a balanced meal portioned out into 8 oz or 16 oz sizes) and then move into DIY meals, as they get accustomed to this way of feeding and their dogs get adjusted, too. Of course, A LOT of people continue to feed the SFRAW pre-made options as they don’t have the ability, interest or time in preparing their own dog’s meals at home.
SFRAW Formulas are complete, ready-to-feed/fully prepared and you do not need to add anything at all — everything is included, so all you have to do is defrost and feed. They can range in price from $14/lb (Organic Rabbit/Pheasant) down to $4.50/lb (Salmon/Flounder). Custom Meals and Prey Model Packs are $10/lb. If your dog is not limited by ingredient/food allergies or intolerance, and you can rotate between whichever flavors you’d like based on cost, but still get a nice variety of red meats, poultry and fish — most people average their cost out to around $8/lb using our prepared Formulas and/or Prey Model Packs.
SFRAW Grinds are simply whole duck, whole turkeys, whole chickens, ground up, nothing added. They have a varied but always within a safe range for a balanced ca:ph ratio. They can be used in rotation with our Formulas/prey Model Packs or fed alone in rotation between 3-4 (again, variety is important) with some supplemental additions of your choice. We suggest adding up to 10% seafood or incorporating in another food based source of EFAs and our Seaweed Blend for minerals. The average price for our Grinds is $7/lb.
Our meaty bones range in price from $0.50/lb (some duck and chicken parts) up to $8/lb (goat and a few others). If you are feeding the Formulas or Grinds, you do not need to add in the raw meaty bones, but it is a very nice option to include them. If you are comfortable with feeding consumable raw meaty bones, we strongly encourage feeding as many meals “on the bone” as possible: up to 30-40% of the diet, depending on how much meat the bones provide.
GreenTripe makes some nice ground meals that are under $5/lb. I recommend feeding GreenTripe for up to a 1/3 of the diet to enjoy the many benefits of green tripe and to help keep the overall costs down, too.
Hope this answers your question! If you have any other questions, let us know. Hope you can stop in soon — we’d love to give him some samples and meet you!
While we have written on this topic a number of times before (On Switching Your New Puppy to Raw;BayWoof Featured Article: A Home-Prepared Fresh Food Diet for Your Dog by Kasie Maxwell; BayWoof’s September Nutrition Issue Featured Article: Starting Puppies on a Raw-Food Diet by Kasie Maxwell and How Much To Feed When Switching To Raw ), this post will focus on the key details for switching your healthy adult dog over to a raw diet.
Wondering how to transition your dog to a raw diet? Here’s what you can expect when transitioning to a fresh foods diet through SFRAW.
Supporting YOU: We have a number of different ways to help you with making your pet’s transition over to a raw diet, and offer a lot of support! The best way to get one-on-one expert advice and put together a program with follow-up support is to schedule a consultation with me (you can do so here). I also teach workshops and classes during the Spring and Summer season.
For our members, we offer FREE mentoring sessions with one of our experienced and generous SFRAW Mentors – these take place a few times a month on either Saturdays or Sundays and are available on the Mentor’s schedules, which can vary. This program is really awesome, and is available only to our members.
Of course, if you just stop in, so long as it’s not too busy in here, we would be more than happy to help to give you the basic outline of what you need to do to get started, just so you’re doing things safely, and come up with suggestions for things you can buy to try first. You can just walk-in any day for this 7/days — if I happen to not be here, Jeff is our Operations Manager who works M-F, and he can give you a few suggestions to try some things out. He’s good at the basics. 🙂
For a pup with possible food allergies or intolerances, I typically suggest staying away from chicken and lamb — beef, turkey, pork, duck, rabbit, pheasant, goat, llama would all be good options here — and, if the allergies are severe, I would suggest the Grinds over the Formulas to get started as they have just that one single ingredient and the Formulas have a lot of goodies added.
Methods to Transition (for dogs only – not for kitties! To learn how to transition cats safely, please go here):
Short answer: for healthy dogs over 6 months of age, I suggest a “fasting” method to switch to raw:
Day One: no food or treats, lots of love and favorite activities – if you think they will really suffer skipping a day of food, offering small amounts of goat yogurt, slippery elm gruel or bone broth are OK;
Day Two: yogurt/broth/gruel + 1/2 the expected daily ration of the raw meal;
If all goes, well then by Day Three: 100% the amount of raw food + a bit of the yogurt/broth/gruel.
In my experience, this method is the easiest and least stressful on most dog’s systems. I have been feeding this way since 1989 and I have learned that the slow method of gradually mixing in the old with the new usually is much more difficult on their systems, and prolongs any possible GI upset they may experience with the switch.
Fasting ia a powerful tool that can hep with this transition, but also can be employed every time your pet has digestive upset or just needs a reset or boost to their immune system.
The “Fast-to-Raw” Method is my personal choice and most favorite way to switch to raw! Unless you have a very young puppy, a dog that currently has acid-reflux or regularly experiences “hunger pukes” (vomiting yellow bile); a breed especially at risk for hypoglycemia (tiny breeds) or a dog diagnosed with diabetes/hypoglycemia, fasting is the single best way to move to a new food, in my experience.
Fasting is especially beneficial for any dog experiencing debilitating or challenging chronic health issues, serious acute flares of disease, and for hospice dogs that are very old and frail.
Fasting provides the following benefits:
a. incredibly healing for the gut; allows for the digestive organs to rest and recover from foods that may have been causing inflammation, immune reactions or damage/toxicity;
b. allows for them to metabolize and eliminate residual foods from their system;
c. creates a ready GI system that is genuinely hungry and prepared to digest food;
d. provides a mini-detox for the liver, kidney, spleen and GI tract;
I have found that the “Fasting-to-Raw” method help to limit or minimize GI distress to a few days rather than extending any possible GI symptoms (vomiting/diarrhea, for example) over a few weeks – or even months — with slower methods of switching to raw.
DAY One: NO food or treats; if they beg for food or seem hungry, distract them with extra sessions of play, grooming, love/attention – whatever they enjoy most and feels like a nice reward to that particular dog – but no meals or treats or real food.
Exceptions: useful foods for those not ideally suited to a true fast include small servings of bone broth, small amount of goat milk yogurt/kefir which may be mixed in with slippery elm slurry if GI concerns or honey/blackstrapp molasses if concerned about glucose levels.
DAY Two: Feed 50% the expected daily ration of raw meals for this day – can be mixed in with the yogurt or broth if you used it on day one. Split into two meals or if you have a picky eater, wait to feed until the evening meal only.
Feeding Times: You may be surprised to learn that most dogs actually do BEST on a natural diet when fed just once per day, at night only! If your dog is not enthusiastic about their morning meals, just go ahead and skip breakfast and only feed one evening meal. This is a completely normal and natural appetite and feeding schedule for our carnivore friends. Alternatively, you can feed one mid-day meal + one evening meal; or feed an evening meal + a pre-bedtime snack meal.
DAY Three: Feed the full amount of their daily ration, split between two meals – or for a picky eater, feed once per day only at night — and mixed with any leftover yogurt or broth, if all is going well (2% of the raw food per day based on your pet’s ideal weight)
That’s it! Usually, this works very well for most dogs.
Two Other Methods to Transition To Raw:
The “Cold Turkey” method – just ditching the previous diet and starting the next meal on raw without any transition at all. I have found two categories of dogs that seem to tolerate this method best:
- very ill dogs that are suffering with GI distress and allergies/skin issues form kibbled foods
- dogs that have an excellent, robust constitution and are healthy enough to handle a speedy switch to any new food with limited GI distress
- Donate all kibbled and canned foods to a local shelter; be sure to also donate any commercially produced treats you may have on-hand and/or dietary supplements. These are all possibly problematic foods, and could very much inhibit the health and stability of your dog during the transition.
- Feed one last meal of the old food and for the next meal, start feeding the raw diet of your choice: this can be something like SFRAW Grinds or Formulas (complete and balanced meals you simply defrost and feed); a blend of raw foods you are mixing at home yourself (meat/bones or adequate calcium to balance the phosphors and 5-10% offal + a small amount of other whole foods or ground veggies, pumpkin, herbs, sweet potato, green veggies, greentripe, etc.) It is important to start with just one single protein (most people start with chicken) — feed this one protein for at least a week, maybe two. Add a new protien every week, as tolerated, until you work your way up to 3-4 different proteins – ta da!
The “Slow and Careful” method: I rarely advocate for this, but occasionally there are some dogs (and people) that feel very strongly that their animals are so sensitive to changes in their diet that the only way they can get them to a raw food diet is by mixing with the old food over time and phasing out the kibble over a period of days or weeks.
Like I said, I rarely promote this method – have never needed to use it with any dogs under my own care (even very old, debilitated, hospice dogs). But, it is also important to me to allow for animals and people to do what they feel is best — and some dogs, do, indeed seem to best tolerate this method for a successful switch.
That being said, I’d personally prefer, in these cases, to have the kibble eliminated completely and switch to a home-cooked diet first, and then move to raw eventually. I think even small amounts of kibble is incredibly harmful/damaging; a taxing stress/hard on their bodies, that it’s worth removing entirely, to provide them with real, fresh foods, as soon as possible.
A balanced cooked home-prepared diet is going to be far healthier than kibble, and I think this makes for a nice transition food for many people or dogs with concerns over switching to 100% raw right away.
So many options! There are other ways to go about it, too – here are some links to a few other great guides you can also follow:
As you can see, there is not a single “right” method to make this transition, each of these techniques can get you to where you want to be – eventually feeding a balanced, varied raw diet that is:
- well-tolerated and genuinely enjoyed by your dog
- after a few months’ time, they are not just tolerating, but thriving on the diet– this would be verified by improvements in their overall health, skin/coat, digestion, mobility, behavior, immunity, and energy.
My advice is to simply choose whichever method resonates with you/seems practical/doable, and makes the most sense from your personal perspective, AND, most critically, what you think will work BEST for your dog! YOUR individual dog’s reaction to the nutrition you are offering them is the ultimate deciding factor for which fresh foods diet you choose and what method of switching them over is ideal.
Q: We have our 15-year-old cat that is beginning to show several signs of anxiety or dementia. Our vet wants to give her Xanax, to which we are opposed. I would like to try defusing essential oils through the house to see if it works. Does anyone know of a practitioner that could help us with what to use that might be specific for what is going on my girl? Thank you. Carrie
A: Hi Carrie,
I am so sorry to hear about your middle-aged kitty experiencing dementia and anxiety. I hope I can provide some suggestions that may provide some relief to her and to your household/family!
I am so glad you asked about the use of essential oils with your cat. Because of the dire and very serious consequences that can occur in cats exposed to essential oils, my position is that they are never safe to use — even diffused, even the therapeutic grade, even EOs lower in the most toxic/potentially lethal chemical compounds (ketones, phenols, and monoterpenes). And for dementia and anxiety, EOs would not be my first choice anyhow — there are some other options that I think may be more effective, and would certainly be safer. Here is a short answer about the issue regarding cats and EOs:
Why Cats and Essential Oils Are Not Suitable by Dr. Khan, DVM, PhD, DABVT (Veterinary Toxicologist), National Animal Poison Control Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois
Generally, essential oils and hydrosols* have terpenes (along with other things) in them (terpenes are hydrocarbons of plant origin). Terpenes are rapidly absorbed orally and dermally and are metabolized in the liver. The metabolites of terpenes are conjugated with glucuronic acid (glucuronidation) and glycine depending on the type of terpene and animal species involved. The conjugated metabolites are usually more water soluble and are easily excreted through the kidney and feces.
Why Cats Can’t Metabolize Essential Oils: Cats are known to be deficient in their ability to eliminate compounds through hepatic glucuronidation (they lack enzyme glucuronyl tranferases). Glucuronidation is an important detoxification mechanism present in most animals except cats. Lack of this important detoxification mechanism in cats may result in slower elimination and thus build-up of the toxic metabolites in the body causing toxicity.
Below please find my suggestions on alternative options to help your aging cat:
1) Pheromones Feliway products are a safe to use pheromone diffuser and/or spray that can be very helpful for a lot of mood & behavior issues in felines. Feliway is 100% safe to use and you can easily buy it from SFRAW, online or even in many local pet supply stores. It’s a good first thing to try.
2) Flower Essences can make a big difference and are 100% safe & easy to use — simply add drops to their water, food, treats, by mouth (if you can), or spray frequently – if they are not stressed by the spray action. Giving 2-4 drops 4-6 times a day will provide the best results. I can gladly make a blend for her current state next time you come in or you can make your own (mix up to/no more than seven in a bottle with a little distilled/filtered water and either a bit of Vodka, brandy or vegetable glycerin to preserve). Learn more about the different remedies here.
3) Herbal Remedies: the main downside of this modality is that your cat may not want to ingest herbal compounds and, unlike energetic medicines (flower essences, homoepathy, etc) they must be consumed/metabolized to work. I’d offer some of them to her and see if she is willing to take one on her own or when added to food. She will know what is good for her, and it is best to allow for her to choose/guide you about which herbs she needs (or not). Some blends that would be useful in this case include: Ginko Biloba, Turmeric (information for use in cats here); Animal Essentials Senior Support or Animal Essentials Tranquility Blend; Standard Process Neurotrophin PMG.
Some helpful dietary supplements & nutritional changes to her current species appropriate, fresh raw, carbohydrate-grain-sugar free diet to consider would be:
- Increasing the amount of EFAs in her diet either by adding more beneficial fatty foods or by supplementing with high quality EFAs: there is a good product specifically for cats here and here. Adding a high quality, organic, cold-pressed Coconut Oil may be of benefit; Standard Process Calamari Oil would be another choice.
- Antioxidants and supplements such as: Sam-E, CoEnzymeQ10, choline/phosphatidylcholine, and B-vitamins are known to be helpful.
- Feeding more “grounding” foods such as beef, elk, venison, turkey, lamb, bison; cooked root vegetables, seaweeds/salty foods, egg yolks & cheese. Making stews and offering some pureed cooked meals may also help bring her to balance during this period of confusion/upset.
- Try CBD oil or tincture. CBD oil has been incredibly helpful for some animals — get 18:1 or 20:1 CBD oil that you purchase from a dispensary. Yes, you will need a medical cannabis card to make this purchase legally for your animal. I am not a fan of the OTC products available online or in pet stores/vet hospitals recently; I think these are a waste of money, possibly unsafe, and not nearly as effective as the regulated products found in a dispensary. It is important to purchase safe, clean, medical-grade products. A high quality local brand is Treat Well, for example — she makes nice ones for animal use and can advise you on which product you should use. Whatever one you buy, do be sure it is xylitol free and safe for use in cats (no artificial sweeteners or preservatives added, for example).
- Add a little catnip to her routine — she can eat it or roll in it. It can help to balance her mood and reduces anxiety.
- Consider probiotics specifically tailored for the feline gut and/or for improving behavior/cognitive function. For example, we just started carrying a product from Custom Probiotics which has a very good reputation and has some promising results for positively influencing both GI health and behavior in humans, and we are hopeful this will prove beneficial for our animal companions, as well. My partner tried it out for himself, and our cat, usually having no real interest in our supplements at all — went absolutely CRAZY for this particular probiotic. He was doing anything he could to get just a little taste! His highly unusual, very dramatic response to this particular product, and the good information I have heard about this product was a determining factor for me to bring this on as one of the select supplements we offer at SFRAW. We are learning more and more about how the gut microflora has an influence on our brain functioning/health and behavior (the “Gut-Brain-Immune Axis” – more here). You can learn a lot about the general and species specific use of protiotics in cats here. This is a great website and they suggest some excellent products.
Obviously, these are all only useful if she is willing to take them willingly! I would offer them to her individually — she may surprise you with her interest in specific formulas or supplements.
Lastly, sound and light can have a big impact on biology & mood – especially in animals! Music therapy may be very helpful for her; not sure if you had thought of this yet. You can purchase/download or stream music to play softly for her during the day and at night before bedtime, that is used for meditation, or to promote sleep and relaxation in pets and babies/children. Classical music or music that has been arranged and developed for dementia and anxiety (in people) can be used for cats or dogs with similar concerns. Music therapy may be very good for her – worth trying and low investment/no real risk.
Fluorescent lighting may be giving her some trouble. Animals are sensitive to the high pitched sound these bulbs make and the blue spectrum lighting can cause some serious disruptions to sleep cycles (much like us – but I think animals are even more sensitive to this). If you can swap out florescent bulbs with incandescent (warm not cool) or natural light, this may be very helpful for her. I like the Salt Lamps for early am and pm lighting – safer than candlelight but has a similar calming effect. You may want to look into therapeutic UV lighting that people use for Seasonal Mood Disorders – she could really benefit from UV lighting (unless she gets to go outside a lot already and gets direct exposure to natural sunshine, daily). Light can have dramatic influences on her hormones, and may be causing disruptions to her sleep/activity cycle – blue light from electronics and artificial lighting may even be causing her anxiety. Do what you can for this – I know it may not be an easy fix, but certainly worth exploring.
If she does not get to go outside/spend time having direct “paw-to-soil” contact to the earth – an earthing or grounding mat is something to consider. This can help with adrenal issues, dementia and anxiety quite a bit – but they can be really expensive. I have heard some cases where this has really helped dogs and cats suffering from age related cognitive dysfunction and anxiety. But simply spending time outdoors on natural surfaces (touching the earth/natural substrates – not concrete, decks, or patios) every day (safely, of course) is the better – and way cheaper! — solution, when possible.
Homeopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine can both also be very useful here. I’d recommend working with one of the following veterinarians:
Alternatives for Animals (highly recommended by other SFRAW members and also offer a discount for your first visit if you are a SFRAW member!)
Dr. Barbara Fishelson, DVM (Barbara does house-calls & phone consultations)
Dr Cheryl Schwartz (the original, a true pioneer for TCM use in veterinary medicine)
Homeopathic Veterinary Housecalls, Cecille O’Brien Greenleaf VMD Portola Valley, California (she is excellent!) firstname.lastname@example.org (650) 533-0074
Mt. Madonna Veterinary Clinic in Watsonville (SFRAW members, and worth the distance! Gwen & George are wonderful!)
The Western Dragon – Dr. Sara (Dr. Sara – I think she may be closer to you?)
Please let me know if you have any other questions. These are some rather broad and general recommendations – each individual symptom picture is unique and your cat may respond better to different things. If you want to talk more set-up a Consultation with me and I’d be more than happy to do whatever I can to provide you with more specific suggestions for her, as well as guidance and support that you may need.
I hope this helps!
The below information was taken directly from the USDA’s The Big Thaw — Safe Defrosting Methods for Consumers document, and edited/modified by SFRAW to be relevant and useful for raw feeders.
Uh, oh! You’re home and forgot to thaw something for dinner. You grab a package of meat or chicken and use hot water to thaw it fast. But is this safe? What if you remembered to take food out of the freezer, but forgot and left the package on the counter all day while you were at work?
Neither of these situations is considered safe, and these methods of thawing may lead to foodborne illness. Raw or cooked meat, poultry or egg products, as any perishable foods, must be kept at a safe temperature during “the big thaw.” They are safe indefinitely while frozen. However, as soon as they begin to thaw and become warmer than 40 °F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply.
Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
Even though the center of the package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food could be in the “Danger Zone,” between 40 and 140 °F — temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly.
When thawing frozen food, it’s best to plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator where it will remain at a safe, constant temperature — at 40 °F or below.
There are two SFRAW-recommended safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator or in cold water.
Refrigerator Thawing (for everyday feeding)
Cold Water Thawing (the only SFRAW approved quick way to defrost in urgent situations)
Note: Microwave Thawing is never recommended by SFRAW
Planning ahead is the key to this method because of the lengthy time involved. A large frozen item like a turkey requires at least a day (24 hours) for every 5 pounds of weight. Even small amounts of frozen food — such as a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breasts — require a full day to thaw. When thawing foods in the refrigerator, there are variables to take into account. Some areas of the appliance may keep food colder than other areas. Food will take longer to thaw in a refrigerator set at 35 °F than one set at 40 °F.
Our suggestion on how to store and manage your pet’s frozen meals for easy and safe feeding:
We suggest using a seperate bin or bowl that will prevent leaks from occurring to defrost your pet’s food in. We suggest maintaining three day’s worth of meals in your refrigerator for your pet, ongoing:
1) a day’s worth of food which is fully defrosted and that you are currently feeding;
2) a day’s worth of food that is ready to feed the next day/partially defrosted;
3) a day’s worth of food that you just pulled from the freezer/fully frozen and just starting to defrost.
Simply pull a meal from the freezer every time you finish feeding a currently using/fully defrosted meal, so you always have three days worth of food in various states of defrosting and ready to go without having to scramble.
IMPORTANT: After you defrost any frozen raw foods you have 2 days to feed this to your pet. When defrosting large bags or cases of things to pack-up into meals at home, you can safely re-freeze after portioning out these foods for future meals, but you should get it back into the freezer within one day of defrosting these ingredients.
TIP: If you forget to defrost a meal, and have an urgent situation due to your adorable hungry-hungry-hippo nipping at your heals or giving you that, “I’m starving!” look, here are some suggestions on how to handle:
1) Fasting opportunity! Healthy adult dogs can safely fast, with just access to clean water, for up to three days. Dogs that fast generally experience an improvement in their overall health; seizing the opportunity to work in a day of fasting here and there will prove beneficial for your dog! Cats that are overweight should never be fasted due to the possible risk of Feline Hepatic Lipidosis. However, healthy, svelte adult kitties may be safely fasted for up to 24-hours, generally, with a rather beneficial outcome and imporvement in their overall energy, digestion, and health.
Indeed, many people intentionally schedule in regular weekly fasting days as part of their feeding schedule – some people even feed according to a method called, “fast and gorge” — which is not for everyone but it is a perfectly fine way to feed your raw fed dog.
The benefits of fasting are well documented and fasting is an excellent “reboot”, recovery, and effective appetite reset for your animal’s system, and even a time-honored and very well proven natural method for healing during illness. Instead of food, spend extra time engaging with your pet doing favorite activities such as grooming, training, snuggling, playing, sunbathing, spending time in nature, or going for relaxing hikes/walks.
2) The incredible edible egg to the rescue! Either raw or cooked, and egg or two makes for a nice quick and easy meal. Drizzle with a tiny bit of healthy fat, if you’d like: a bit of pastured unsalted butter or ghee, coconut oil, pastured lard and a sprinkling of fresh or dried culinary herbs (if you want, totally optional!) makes for a delicious, nutrient dense meal. Eggs are a real saving grace for many people when nothing has been defrosted or the cupboard is bare. Truly pastured eggs have a ridiculously long shelf life, and are a great little meal in a pinch. Yes, you can feed the shell, too. Just realize that the shell is not an adequate source of calcium, unless it has been properly dried and pulverized. In its raw form, eggshells are safe and perfectly edible, but will pass through mostly undigested.
3) Fast fish meals! Individually frozen whole sardines, mackerel, anchovies, mussels, oysters or these species of canned seafood in water, olive oil, or even tomato (as a special treat). These foods make an easy quick meal for your dog (we do not suggest feeding seafood to cats). Just don’t overdo it — these are healthy, but somewhat rich, offerings. If your dog is not accustomed to eating whole fish or a meal of fish, it is best to start slowly with a small amount. Vomited fish or seafood is — as you can imagine — really gross to clean up/deal with! To avoid this smelly catastrophe, we suggest offering a small amount to see how they do first with fish fed alone as a meal. You can even divide it up into a few meals for the day until you get something defrosted.
4) Plain yogurt, raw goat milk, goat milk kefir or goat milk whey. These functional foods are kept in your refigerator for days/weeks and are totally fine to feed alone as a snack or even as a meal, in a pinch. You can find raw goat milk whey in a powdered format that can be rehydrated and served as a meal/snack.
Alternatively, (optional, not necessary) you may choose to add some extras to the raw dairy meal. For example, sprinkle a bit of organic cinnimon, add a touch of organic blackstrap molasses, a little drizzle of raw local honey, whip in a pastured egg yolk, organic turmeric powder/black pepper, organic slippery elm bark powder (for a boost in nutrients) or a bit of powdered organic ginger. Your animal will enjoy the benefits of the probiotics and enzymes found in raw milk. Yogurt, whey, and kefir all are protien rich foods. This is a great choice for any animal when you are out of food or forgot to defrost — they are also wonderful to add to any meal as part of the regular routine/menu.
5) Bone broth. This can be heated up and served warm to your pet any time. Bone broth makes for a nourishing, light, healing meal. If you have it in your freezer, you can quickly and easily heat it up from its frozen state and have a meal or nutritional snack in a few minutes for your animal. Just be sure you use a home-made broth or prepared broth that is suitable for dogs and cats — that means no onion and low-salt or salt-free.
After thawing in the refrigerator, items such as ground meat, stew meat, poultry, seafood, should remain safe and good quality for an additional day or two before using; red meat cuts (such as beef, pork or lamb roasts, chops and steaks) up to 3 days. Be aware that all bone-in cuts “go bad” far more quickly than boneless meats. For this reason, we mantain our standard reccomendation to “feed within 2-days” for all defrosted foods being fed raw to your dogs and cats.
Food thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without any issued for safety, although there may be some loss of quality when it comes to taste/texture after defrosted the second time around (depending on the freshness and handling of the original product).
TIP: The liquid and blood that pools up and leaks off your defrosted raw foods is source of water-soluble nutrients including TAURINE — an essential and necessary amino-acid for cats. We suggest allowing your animals to drink/lick this defrosted liquid, or to mix this liquid in with their meals so they are not missing out on these nutrients lost during defrosting.
QUICK METHOD: Cold Water Thawing
This method is faster than refrigerator thawing but requires more attention. The food must be in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Also, the meat tissue may absorb water, resulting in a watery product. The bag should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw is ideal and recommended by the USDA/FDA. For our pets, we feel ok with allowing it to defrost in cold water until ready to feed (a few hours or even overnight) *when the ambient temperature is low. If you are doing this during a heat wave, yes, please do change the water every 30-minutes. The idea is that the water needs to stay cool/cold – so check it often and decide if you need to refresh the cold water or not. Usually, living in San Francisco, we are able to let it defrost without needing to refresh the water. The frozen food acts as big ice cube and the bigger it is, the colder the water will stay. Small packages of meat, poultry or seafood — about a pound — may thaw in an hour or less. A 3-to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. For whole turkeys, estimate about 30 minutes per pound. If thawed completely, the food must be placed in the refrigerator or portioned out to re-freeze immediately.
The USDA/FDA suggest foods thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing; but we find this is not necessary for our raw fed dogs/cats. It is important to refreeze after portioning within a day or so, however.
What about? Cooking Without Thawing
[For those of you that feed cooked meals] When there is not enough time to thaw frozen foods, or you’re simply in a hurry, just remember: it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. The cooking will take approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry.
Lastly, whenever we discuss raw feeding meat to dogs and cats, it is important to remember that the health risk of bacteria from the raw meats is largely (if not exclusively) to US (the humans) not so much to our little carnivores. YES, it is true that dogs in particular and cats (in some respects) are biologically designed to handle bacteria loads in their foods without ever becoming ill — bacteria counts that would most likely pose a risk to humans are not generally an issue for most healthy raw fed pets. SFRAW makes great efforts to source only the freshest, most carefully/expertly raised, processed and handled meats/ingredients — IMO, careful sourcing from producers you know and trust and from a properly and carefully managed supply chain is the NUMBER ONE step anyone can do to secure the safety of the foods we procure. Unfortunately, careful sourcing and handling from birth to market are measures of safety that are often overlooked when you read safe food handling guidelines.
So, while dogs DO lick their butts, some eat poop and most will happily consume rotten carrion; and cats can handle some level of bacteria well, too – it is still important to handle raw meat properly in your home kitchen. I hear too often of people “pushing it” and wondering why their pet is experiencing low-grade digestive issues — once they stop leaving the food out too long, or using the same meal/food for more than 2 days, or defrosting improperly, the issues typically vanish. Perhaps a less careful method of handling would be fine for one individual dog/cat, but not suitable for another — perhaps it was ok when an individual dog/cat was younger, but not ok now that they are older -? You really never know when a pet’s immune system is stressed, and they become are more susceptible to infections; the immune system is completely dynamic. If they are very young/old, chronically ill, or new to eating raw foods — they are not as well adapted to handling bacteria loads as a long-time healthy raw fed animal may be. So, it is better to maintain safe food handling practices to ensure you don’t pose unnecessary health hazards to you our anyone in your family! Just make your food handling methods a habit – be mindful or temperatures, wash your hands and keep things clean – and enjoy in good health!
Member Christine Emery, has been feeding raw since 2008 and joined SFRAW January of 2013. She does herding and agility, plus mud and obstacle races with Hogan, her 4 year old Naturally Reared/Raw Fed (+ natural ears) Beauceron.
Her family also includes, Sammy 13 year old Havanese, and Elliott 11 year old Catalina Macaw. She feeds a mostly prey model style diet, with the addition of supplements such as our “Vitality Blend”, probiotics as necessary, and the occasional piece of fruit, nuts, seeds, etc. Her dogs are completely healthy, enjoy exceptional vitality and balanced bodies, minds & temperaments thanks to their 100% raw diets. She is committed to purchasing exclusively truly pastured, grass-finished and/or organic ingredients and foods for herself and her animals – becasue it is so much healthier and tastes better, too!
Hogan is a beautiful ambassador for Natural Rearing/Raw Feeding and has accomplished so much by the age of 4 years including these amazing current titles:
- AKC Agility Excellent Standard
- AKC Agility Excellent Jumpers
- AKC Herding Started Sheep Master
- AKC Canine Good Citizen
- ASCA Started Sheep
- ASCA Started Cattle
WOW! Go Hogan!!! We are in awe and so impressed by Christine & Hogan’s beautiful realtionship. Christine uses force-free handling/training techniques – and it has seriously paid off with how well they work together to achieve such amazing results! What a team!