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!
Q: hello smart raw feeders- my beloved dog had a big health scare this weekend. he had a blockage in his gut and needed to have 30 inches of his intestines removed. the vet has put him on a diet of baby food for a week.
my question is how should i handle his diet moving forward now that his intestines are compromised? i wonder if this will affect the peristaltic action in the future and make digestion more difficult? i winder if i should stay away from bones now and feed only ground with perhaps extra calcium supplementation? also what probiotics if any would you recommend when the course of antibiotcs are over to restore his gut flora?
A: I am so sorry to hear about your pup’s emergency surgery and removal of the this vital organ (well, part of). I hope he will recover as soon as possible without any complications. He may or may not have residual issues from this event, but it’s great you are reaching out to do whatever you can to support his recovery and help him heal faster. Hopefully, he can heal up quickly and be back to normal soon!
I’d highly recommend the following supplements during this period of recovery:
1) L-Glutamine (best in the powdered supplement format). This amino-acid reduces rates of infection, reduces inflammation, improves gut barrier function, and improves immune function. It is an amino-acid that repairs the lining of the gut so it’s a great choice for this scenario.
Daily dosages for dogs: 1-25 lbs=250 mg; 25-50 lbs=500 mg; 50-100 lbs=1,00 mg; cats: 125 mg. Best if fed in water or broth before meals and at bedtime, but may be added to food.
2) SeaCure is a nice supplement to promote/speed healing; it is an especially easy to absorb protein. I recommend it in cases such as this.
3) Probiotics! Please do not make the mistake of waiting to give probiotics after the antibiotic treatment is completed — you can, and should, start probiotics right away. In fact, it is the best way to counter the side-effects of taking antibiotics (more here – see references he provides – I do not suggest your dog take resistant starch at this time). You should start giving probiotics the first day of oral antibiotic treatment and continue them for at least an additional 2 weeks after the completion of antibiotic therapy. It has not been proven but it has been suggested to take probiotics and antibiotics at least 2 hours apart to reduce the possibility of the antibiotic killing the probiotic organisms. However, I have found that giving probiotics 10 minutes after the dose of antibiotics is the MOST effective way to reduce digestive upset, vomiting, inappetence and diarrhea in dogs and cats. Timing really can make a big difference here to curtail these unpleasant symptoms, and while it may seem counter-intuitive, a probiotic “chaser” given 10 minutes after the antibiotic, can be incredibly effective.
As for which probiotic product to choose: MegaSporeBiotic, Primal
Defense (we carry both) or PrescriptAssist probiotics are all very stable, high quality choices for dogs and cats (and people!) that have chronic or mild issues with allergies or auto-immunity resulting in skin or gut problems, or for those that have never taken antibiotics or probiotics before.
However, if your animal has taken probiotics in the past without a dramatic improvement in their symptoms, I’d recommend one of the following products, which are expensive but very good:
The diet during this healing period should include lean, yet nutrient dense, easy to assimilate, high protein/meats from truly pastured animals. Sourcing is important here as high quality truly pastured meats are higher in beneficial fat/omega-3s, CLA, carotene, vita A/E/D — and larger quantities of all of these nutrients are needed/very helpful during this healing period.
Also important now is the inclusion of adequate levels of zinc to speed healing and support the immune system — which you can provide through the diet by simply feeding zinc rich foods such as (listed in order of zinc content and also digestibility): fresh/frozen raw, steamed/sautéed or canned oysters; braised calf, beef or lamb liver; raw organic tahini; freshly ground raw organic pumpkin seeds/pumpkin seed butter.
My suggestion would be to make stews or cooked meals using beef, bison, venison or lamb muscle meat (ground or stew meat) + bit of liver and spleen. Do not feed many vegetables right now and certainly no grains or legumes at all — those will be hard on his system and increase inflammation. For calcium you can choose one of the following supplements: 1/4 TBS of Now Bone Meal powder, 1 tsp. of Seaweed Calcium or 1/2 tsp. of eggshell powder added to every lb of food. This is a necessary balancing supplement (not optional) – it can be added either before or after cooking – the minerals hold up to the heat of cooking ok.
Servings of bone broth made from these same meats (bones, tendons, ligaments, feet, heads, skin) will also be very healing; remember no onion and little to no salt (if you do use salt, be sure to use a natural salt, not regular table salt, please). Feeding additional gelatin – I like Great Lakes Beef Gelatin – would be helpful, too.
Ginger and a small amount of garlic will support healing/reduce the chance for infection, too. You can season to taste with culinary herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, chervil, cumin, turmeric, chamomile, mint — all will be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Just use what you have/can easily find, and what he seems to like best. Organic, of course!
Bromelain in conjunction with quercetin is an excellent supplement to help speed up healing of the gut; as is Slippery Elm Bark Powder or Marshmallow Root Powder mixed with a bit of raw honey and raw, organic fresh tahini or raw/organic fresh pumpkin seed butter (whatever he likes best – you can make/roll into little balls to eat as treats) — these will sooth an inflamed GI tract and reduce digestive upset.
So long as he heals and starts to feel better and elimination becomes normal again, in about a week or two, you can start to feed less cooked foods/more raw. Usually by 3-4 weeks after this surgery, you should certainly be able to return to his normal raw diet — even including raw meaty bones, if this was normal before. I had a senior Great Dane that needed emergency “bloat” GDV + gastropexy surgery once. Even with some initial unusual/unexplained complications during the first 24-hours afterwards, he was back on raw meaty bones and his normal diet in under two weeks — despite his age, he recovered very quickly with homeopathy and TCM — you will just have to see how your dog does and let his progress guide you. Just remember to proceed slowly as it’s better to be conservative and cautious, rather than bold/daring, in these situations. 🙂
This last part is not specific to your situation, necessarily, but I think it is important to provide this information, as it is related to the topic being discussed, and I hope it may possibly prevent an animal from going through this traumatic and life-threatening crisis. I hope the below information may be of benefit to others:
BE AWARE OF THIS RISK
Please be aware that if he is taking a NSAID (pain/arthritis medication: list of drugs in this class used in veterinary medicine can be found here) or corticosteroids (for allergies or other autoimmune diseases – list of commonly used drugs can be found here) for any reason, one of the most common side-effects of these drugs (no matter what diet he is eating) are gastrointestinal including the very serious issue of bleeding, intestinal blockage, and perforation. Whenever I have a consultation to discuss diet/nutrition, I always ask about medications the animal is taking, as these types of drugs carry this risk as a common side-effect. If they are planning to continue the drugs, this informs my suggestions for putting together a safe diet for that individual.
So, if your dog is taking either of these types of commonly prescribed drugs, I would reconsider the feeding of whole raw meaty bones while on these medicines, simply because he will be at a higher risk for these possible side-effects. It may be safer to feed ground meaty bones instead, but the risk remains — even when they eat kibble, canned or cooked purees/baby food. It’s just a side-effect that comes along with these drugs. Of course I know people who are aware of the risk, and yet have decided that the benefits of feeding whole meaty bones outweighs the risk. It’s just important to me that people know so they can make informed decisions.
Alternatively, (of course, it is my recommendation:) you can just completely reconsider using these drugs and move to the use of safer medical options/treatments to manage inflammation/pain or chronic illnesses. A skilled and experienced holistic veterinarian will be able to better manage whatever chronic health issues your animal may have through the use of alternative modalities – chiropractic, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, herbs, etc. This way, you can not only eliminate the risk of the side-effects of using these drugs, but also continue to feed raw meaty bones for the many health benefits they provide!
Hope this helps and that your god boy is on the mend — with many happy, healthy days of meaty bone meals ahead! 🙂
Occasionally, we have (rightfully) concerned raw feeders send us photos or bring us in samples of worrisome bits of plastic-looking material that they found in their pet’s food.
While it has only happened a few times in all the years we have been selling and making raw foods, we take each and every one of these concerns very seriously. Thankfully, this has happened only twice with our own food, and a few other times with other products that we sell. Fortunately, the mystery object was immediately and very easily identified as either fish scales, part of an animal’s organs, or pin-feather quills – all 100% edible and perfectly safe to feed.
Question: Hi Kasie, I wanted to ask you about something I found in the EcoPawz food. I’ve noticed it a few times and was wondering if it’s plastic? I had a photo of one next to a dime, but couldn’t find it now. The few times I saw it, it looked like a flattened straw. There could possibly be times when I missed it and fed it to the dogs. Anyway, it felt like plastic to me, and I didn’t know what part of an animal it could be if it wasn’t. Please let me know if you have an idea of what it could be. Thanks so much! Christine
Answer: Hi Christine, Thank you for asking. Yes, I DO know what that is! Rest assured, these odd looking bits are not plastic! These are just feather quills/shafts – also referred to sometimes as pin feathers – 100% natural and a part of the turkey, duck or chickens (any bird); they are just a natural part of the bird that is found in the skin. Totally edible and completely safe to feed. No worries! Cheers, Kasie
At SFRAW, we put an enormous amount of effort and care into each and every product that we provide to our dear members. As the founder, I genuinely love, admire, and an inspired by the obvious concern SFRAW members have for their animals well-being. The intention and work they put into ensuring they are feeding the safest, healthiest foods to their beloved animals is, after all, a shared interest, important responsibility, and common goal we all have as part of this wonderful community. I am humbled to know that all the work and research we do to provide the very best possible for our members, is not only relied upon, but also appreciated by our most conscientious and observant members.
We had some bits presented to us yesterday, and it was definitively determined, with the help of meticulously and carefully reviewing the product in question with our production staff, to be a sardine fish scales. The sardines we have right now are a bit bigger than in the past, and the scales looked like this (top is of the fresh scale, bottom of the one brought in to us):
We encourage people to inspect all food & treats that you provide to your animal before feeding – examining edible items upon serving and smell for freshness. Be sure anything you give to your animals looks and smells as expected/normal, to make sure it is safe to eat.
If you see anything questionable – please, take the time to report this to the manufacturer/butcher/producer where you got the food. Give them a chance to examine your findings – it may be something problematic, or you may be surprised to learn about odd bits that look a lot like plastic, but are really just edible parts of your animal companion’s fresh raw natural meals!
Ever noticed unusual colors like green or rainbow tint to your raw or frozen meat? We were once delivered a few bags of green tinted beef cuts, but it’s been many years since that happened. Thankfully, we learned that it was not a safety or quality issue in that case – we contacted the producer to determine the cause, and they were even kind enough to replace the product to ensure we were comfortable feeding it to our animals. Learn more about the different colors that may be found in your raw/frozen meat & poultry and what they may indicate/if they are safe to eat or not here.
Seaweed Blend for the cure: every single body is unique & finding the right remedy/dose for the individual
Wanted to share this interesting story about one of our members who had been struggling with a coat & skin condition issue in her black Great Dane, Miles. This story provides a fine example of how supplementation is sometimes necessary to correct imbalances in individual animals. It also illustrates how sometimes nutritional imbalances may occur even in animals eating a fresh food diet, from stress or an unknown cause, even when provided a “balanced” diet that others would thrive on and not show the same imbalances.
It is important to remember that every individual animal/person is unique when it comes to how they tolerate, digest and metabolize foods; health and nutritional needs will change over time or during periods of stress/illness. We must be willing to consider and analyze every diet/menu on an individual basis to find what is most helpful for that particular being at the period in time. Nutrition and health is never really a “set-it-and-forget-it” done deal – it’s a dynamic journey that we partake with our animals over many years (if you’re lucky!)
What you feed now and what you may feed a year from now is likely to change based on your animal’s individual needs, new information we gather from ongoing research/new understandings about nutrition or health, and our experience/comfort level with preparing and feeding our animals fresh foods (for example, you may only feed ground bone now, but eventually change to become more comfortable in feeding whole meaty bones/prey model; or feed raw now but eventually decide to switch to a home-cooked diet in your ailing or older animal). It is important to always remain open to making necessary changes, and to let your animal’s symptoms guide you along the way; their physical and behavioral symptoms/expression of health or dis-ease is how our animals communicate with us about what’s working (or not). It is important to pay attention, and be open to trying new things.
Many of you know I am generally resistant, or at least initially hesitant, to recommend or use even the highest quality supplements when first approaching an imbalance or problem. I prefer to focus on simply providing excellent nutrition using the highest quality, wholesome ingredients to address any challenges or imbalances -“letting food be thy medicine” and giving the body a chance to bring itself into balance when given the tools and circumstances to do so.
I am inspired and amazed on a daily basis with what our animals can do if just simply given the opportunity (removing chemicals, stress, routine “preventative” treatments, providing them with adequate mental and physical exercise, access to a clean, healthy home environment, etc.), TIME (patience), and species appropriate fresh, wholesome foods to heal themselves. Oftentimes, doing less will provide the most dramatic gains and turnarounds.
Miles has been raw fed since being adopted many years ago. He has always enjoyed a beautiful, healthy shiny black coat up until a sudden change that occurred during a period when he was boarded (with a raw feeder) in the spring. Miles’ glossy dark coat had turned reddish/light brown and become very thin/balding – he had a black mohawk of fur along his spine, but the rest of his coat was a very thin and had turned a brown/reddish color.
There are a number of medical conditions that can cause this type of change including hormonal/endocrine disorders, non-endocrine and seasonal pigment/coat & skin disorders. However, as time went on and the veterinary visits/lab tests revealed he was completely healthy, we ruled out those common possibilities. We do not know what caused the change in his coat condition, but we thought for sure after a few weeks that it would return to normal with a few minor tweaks to the diet.
Miles was eating a diet recommended by his holistic veterinarian of 50% cooked carbohydrate (rice) and 50% raw lamb, beef and pork meat/organs along with a daily serving of consumable raw meaty poultry bones plus supplements including SFRAW Seafood Medley few times a week, egg few times a week, canned sardines in water, Halo Dream Coat, Healthy Powder with Bone Meal (on days he does not get the RMB) and Vitality Blend – not every supplement was given every single day but these were used in rotation.
While I have concerns over including carbohydrates in our dog’s diet: especially in this particular case, for the phytates/phytic acid content in the grains may have been inhibiting mineral absorption; his diet had been composed with the advice of his veterinarian and agreement from his person that this was best for Miles, so I was wanted to respect this choice.
Over the years I have known Miles and his person, we had made modifications to the diet including the elimination of certain foods that were causing issues, and the inclusion of others to address his dietary needs, maintain an ideal weight, and balanced overall health.
With the sudden coat condition issue he was experiencing and not resolving, we added additional White Gold, kelp powder, digestive enzymes, and red palm oil.
Eventually, we swapped the kelp powder for my Seaweed Blend. I would not normally recommend additional kelp or the Seaweed Blend when Healthy Powder was already being used due to a concern of over-supplementing with iodine and possibly impacting healthy thyroid functioning.
As the months passed, discouragingly, the conditon would not fully resolve. He went though a period of very flaky skin with copious dandruff production and shedding. My suggestion was to curry comb and massage the coat/skin to help aid his body “detoxify” as his body worked to get back into balance; allowing for a healthy new coat to return (I hoped). As I had expected, the dandruff resolved rather quickly, but the coat pigment issue and thinning remained a problem – especially on his hip area. It was perplexing.
While we saw glimpses of improvement here & there (the red fur started to look shiny instead of dry, and small patches of thick black fur began to grow, but just small patches and it was taking too long), his condition never fully resolved to the point where we were both satisfied with considering him 100% back to normal.
By this time I felt that we had given his body adequate time to resolve the issue on its own or with the gentle nutritional aids we had incorporated, and that we needed to make a dramatic move with his supplement routine — we decided to increase the Seaweed Blend dose by more than 4x the recommended amount (!!) It was a little scary, but we set a short time limit for how long we’d use this dosage, just to see what we might be able to achieve and how his body would respond.
Miles responded beautifully! In just two short weeks, his coat went from being sparse and lightly colored to thick, rich, black and glossy again! He has improved completely to the point where we feel he is totally normal and he is, fortunately continuing to maintain a beautiful, healthy skin & coat condition.
This was the right choice for Miles; we made a bold move to supplement with a potent combination of seaweeds that in another dog could have actually even been harmful. But for Miles, this dose was just what he needed to regain his health.
We have tapered off the megadose, and settled into what his body communicated was the right amount for Miles with good results: he feels and looks wonderful and has been given a clean bill of health from his veterinarian.
As a side, but related note: Miles was a rescue that had a difficult start. He has been on a long journey with his incredibly dedicated person to address rather challenging behavioral health issues. This also has improved so much recently/along with the skin/coat health, that the below video of him interacting with other dogs brought us both to tears.
Miles and Shana have come so far together — this video would have never seemed possible just a few short years ago. This is truly a beautiful moment in time to see him interact with not only one, but two strange dogs (and the second dog came out of nowhere — normally a major trigger for Miles, but he handled it pretty well!) and boy, look at that gorgeous coat he has now, too!
Thank you to Miles and his dedicated person, Shana for allowing us to share your story. It is an honor to know you both and to see how far Miles has come with your good, intelligent, responsible, compassionate, wise, and loving care!
We were amazed to see all the cool posts on Facebook/Instagram over the weekend from our members doing outstanding things with their dogs. Please join us in celebrating and congratulating the following SFRAW members that had these impressive achievements made by our members over this past weekend:
Joyful news from our dear friends and long-time SFRAW members, Gary Ellis and Susan Schroder, who finished their gorgeous Halley who was winners bitch at the SCOA Regional and GSFSC (Saluki) Specialty in Pleasanton, CA!
Juliette Noh’s dog, “super” Cooper won his championship in agility — very well done Cooper!
Zero (the *blind* Aussie) and Dianne Morey achieved 2nd place at the Splash Dogs National Championship Finals in Las Vegas, NV!
Donna Highstreet’s beautiful, Naturally Reared Logan earned his ASCA Agility Trial Championship (ATCH) at the NNASC trial in Carson City, NV.
We are so impressed with all these people and their dogs doing such cool things – we recognize that all of these various achievements are attainable only after a great deal of hard work and dedication. Hats off!
SFRAW Member Referral Card Drawing Winner! Speaking of winners, congratulations to SFRAW member, Betty Wong for being the lucky winner of this month’s SFRAW $100 shopping spree (chosen via random monthly drawing).
Our referral card program is a great way to spread the word about SFRAW and raw feeding and you get a chance to win our monthly drawing, too!
And good luck to Stormy and Betty this coming weekend when they will be competing again after their volunteer shift at SFRAW. As you can see below, Stormy and Betty have had some very impressive wins already! Hope the winning streak continues! 🙂
SFRAW MEMBERSHIP REFERRAL CARDS: PICK SOME UP NEXT TIME YOU’RE IN!
All Current SFRAW Members are eligible: simply write your name on the card, give them to friends as an invitation to shop at SFRAW for a one-time 30% off discount.
When we get the card from your referral at the point of purchase, we will enter your member card into a monthly drawing for a **$100 credit** to shop at SFRAW!
Many of you have dogs/cats that are incredible ambassadors of raw feeding & living endorsements of the power of raw feeding – this prompts conversation about raw feeding or SFRAW with friends and acquaintances. To support this, we decided to also include a listing of the “Benefits of Raw Feeding” on the back of the card.
Thanks to our members for spreading the word about raw feeding, helping animals to get healthier by eating whole, fresh, REAL foods, and supporting SFRAW!
Seasonal Nutritive Herbs: Seasonal Herbs used in our SFRAW Formulas, Vitality Blend & sold seperately
SFRAW’s Seasonal Nutritive Herb Blends are balancing nutritional food supplements – for everyday use! We add our seasonal herb blends into our SFRAW Formulas, Vitality Blend, and we sell them seperately so you can add them to your own foods/meals at home. Complements any commercially-bought or home-prepared diet.
Our Seasonal Blends were developed for Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall – a different blend for each season, helps to keep your dog or cat’s body in harmony with nature’s seasonal changes. The herbs used in our seasonal blends have exceptional balancing and nutritive qualities. Beneficial seasonal herbs are blended with wholesome food herbs, and the result is a healthy, balanced, systemically strengthening whole food supplement.
We use clean, fresh, 100% certified organic, properly harvested, nutritious leaves, grasses, seeds, roots, flowers, and berries that animals have foraged in the wild for centuries. These balancing and nutritious plant foods are not readily available to most domesticated pets. Try our seasonal herbs for a month; you’ll soon notice the difference in your pet’s overall health!
After incorporating the use of nutritve herbs as part of a natural raw foods diet since 1989, our founder, Kasie devleoped our Seasonal Nutritive Blends in 2002. SFRAW has been offering these 100% organic/wild-crafted seasonal herb blends for over a decade with great success. The following blends are available seasonally:
Winter: Alfalfa, Red Raspberry Leaves, Chamomile, Mullein, Burdock Root, Rosehips.
Spring: Nettle Leaf, Dandelion Root, Dandelion Leaves, Milk Thistle Seed, Oregano, Rosemary, Vervain.
Summer: Alfalfa, Oatstraw, Fennel Seed, Hawthorn Berry, Barley Grass.
Fall: Nettle Leaf, Irish Moss, Thyme, Parsley Leaves & Root, Coriander Seed, Marshmallow Root.
Fall Blend is a combination of the following 100% certified organic ingredients:
Organic Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica) Nutritive food herb (abundant in vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, silicon and sulphur), alkalizing, rich source of minerals, antihistamine, good for allergies and skin conditions, blood cleanser, nourishes and strengthens the kidneys, aids with diarrhea and dysentery, digestive aid and cleanser, relieves fatigue.
Organic Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus) Nutritive seaweed (contains protein, polysaccharides, carrageenans, beta carotene, iodine, bromine, iron, minerals, vitamin A and B1), traditionally employed as an excellent restorative herb to speed recovery from debilitating illnesses, anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulant (used for stomach ulcers), anti-viral, demulcent, expectorant, excellent for restoring proper lung function, soothes the digestive system, stomach and urinary tract, tones and strengthens glands, has been used as a food for diabetes patients.
Organic Coriander Seed (Coriandrum sativum) Nutritive food herb (contains linalool, geranial, vitamin C and potassium), reduces flatulence, digestive aid, stimulates appetite. Traditionally used for all gastric and digestive issues including hernia, nausea, diarrhea, and bowel spasms. It has been used to treat measles, hemorrhoids, toothaches, worms, and joint pain, as well as infections caused by bacteria and fungus.
Organic Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) Expels worms (especially hookworms) and gas, excellent for digestive and respiratory tracts, fights gingivitis, helpful for asthma. Traditionally used for a variety of ailments including bronchitis, whooping cough, sore throat, colic, arthritis, upset stomach, stomach pain (gastritis), diarrhea, bedwetting, parasitic worm infections, and some skin disorders.
Marshmallow Root (Althea officinalis) Nutritive food herb (high in calcium and vitamin A), soothes, lubricates and protects internal tissues and mucous membranes, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, soothes urinary and gastrointestinal inflammation, aids in removing toxins from the body, lowers blood sugar, stimulates the immune system. Marshmallow can be used for pain and swelling (inflammation) of the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract; for dry coughs, inflammation of the lining of the stomach, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, constipation, urinary tract inflammation, and urinary stones.
Parsley Leaves and Root (Petroselinum crispum) Nutritive herb (rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K, A and C, as well as calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, boron, fluorine, niacin, zinc, potassium, copper, manganese and iron), high chlorophyll content acts as a natural breath freshener, this cleansing herb has a carminative, tonic and laxative action, but is primarily used for its diuretic properties, used traditionally as a liver tonic and as a means of breaking up kidney stones, alleviatives hives and other allergy symptoms, the roots carminative action can relieve flatulence and colic. The Vitamin K in parsley promotes bone strength, but it also has a role in the treatment and possible prevention of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain. Parsley helps to relieve conditions such as colic, indigestion, and intestinal gas; as well as helping to purify the blood and fight cancer, and detoxify the system of harmful compounds like mercury.
Please use each Seasonal Blend during the specified season, as rotating herbs is essential to their conscientious use, nutritional balance, synergistic healing and strengthening effects. We do not recommend feeding a single seasonal blend for more than 4 months.
For best results, we suggest combining with SFRAW HEALTHY POWDER (or Standard Process Whole Body Support) + SFRAW RED GOLD, SFRAW Seafood Grinds, or fozen fish, mussels, clams or oysters, as the perfect whole food supplement protocol.
HANDLING: Store in a cool, dry place.
FEEDING: 1 Tbs. per pound of food. Use directly from the bag (dry, mixed in or sprinkled onto food) or steep 2 tsp. in 8 oz. of hot water for 15-20 minutes or until room temperature, then strain and add suggested amount to the food as a tea/infusion. Store unused tea in the refigerator and use within 2-3 days. Most dogs love the flavor of the seasonal herbs – consider them to be a tasty, healthful seasoning.
Rotating herbs is essential to their conscientious use, nutritional balance, synergistic healing, and strengthening effects. We do not recommend feeding a single seasonal blend for more than 4 months. We strongly recommend a fresh, whole foods diet for optimal health – feeding raw or home-cooked meals are best. Feed herbs 4-6 days a week or cycle the feeding of herbs for 3 weeks on/1 week off to achieve best results.
Not recommended for pregnant animals, or for puppies or kittens under the age of 12 weeks. Please use as directed unless advised otherwise by a licensed veterinary health care provider. Individuals may experience negative or allergic reactions to any product. Should this happen, discontinue use.
Rara Avis products and information have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA or any other governmental agency. Our products are not meant to diagnose disease or replace licensed veterinary care. Our products are not pharmaceuticals or drugs intended to treat, prevent, mitigate or cure disease.