San Francisco Raw Feeders (SFRAW)

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The Real “Foods that are dangerous to pets” List (for Raw Feeders)

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If you’re like most people, you’ve read and seen a great number of articles online proclaiming “foods to avoid”, “common foods that are dangerous to pets” and “foods that are toxic to pets”.

Unfortunately,  many of these lists are confusing to lots of experienced dog/cat people because they can range from being wildly inaccurate (or perhaps just hyperbolic) for some items on the list, and spot-on for other things. So, unless you’ve done the research and really know which foods present a serious/life-threatening risk to your animal, it’s hard to know what’s really OK to feed (especially in reasonable/moderate or small amounts) vs. what’s going to actually/ quite possibly kill them.

As a raw feeder, these lists and articles are particularly perplexing/frustrating because they perpetuate common myths about foods we provide, safely and with great benefit, to our dogs/cats daily as part of their regular diet. Raw Feeders know that many things that end up being it on those lists are NOT at all toxic, dangerous, or foods we need to avoid: raw meat, raw bones, animal fat, avocado flesh, and garlic, for example.

So, from a fresh (cooked, home-prepared/raw) food feeder’s perspective – here’s your edited down “foods that are ACTUALLY dangerous to pets” list. We hope this provides some clarity to the confused – or frustrated and/or perplexed among us – while making sure that you provide safe meals and snacks to your animals!

Please refrain from incorporating the following foods that are toxic or dangerous to dogs/cats:


Onions – (all types of onions, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots) when fed in large quantities, or frequently in small amounts over time, can cause a specific form of anemia called Heinz-body anemia. It is, thankfully, a largely reversible, treatable, and rarely fatal condition – but most veterinarians, even those that promote raw feeding, concur that including onion in the diet is simply not worth the risk.  Note: cats are more susceptible to onion toxicity than dogs.

  • In severe cases, the anemia may lead to internal organ damage, organ failure or even death. Symptoms of toxicity include: lethargy, weakness, ataxia (lack of muscle coordination), pale gums, red or brown discolored urine, hyper-salivation, occasional vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  • Look for onion as an ingredient in seasonings, sauces, and broths. Avoid feeding your dogs or cats onion in any form (raw, cooked, dehydrated, powdered, etc.)

Garlic, while it has some of the same chemical compounds as onions, is actually beneficial to dogs and cats in small/moderate amounts, and when used intermittently instead of consistently over the long-term. Garlic is a wonderful, health-promoting addition to the natural diet, when used responsibly. Onion is, however, remains problematic..


Xylitol – this natural “low glycemic” birch sweetener is in a lot of foods these days. It is found in most sugar-free gums, toothpastes, mouthwashes/dental products, and sugar-free, natural/health food store/bakery candies or baked goods. Unfortunately, it causes a dramatic increase in insulin in dogs which can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); a potentially fatal drop in blood sugar. This reaction can occur anywhere between 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. Symptoms that your dog may have swallowed a product containing xylitol include:

  • sudden lack of coordination
  • vomiting
  • bleeding disorders
  • seizures
  • coma

Ultimately, for a dog that eats xylitol, even without experiencing hypoglycemia, liver failure may still occur (12 to 48 hours after consumption), resulting in death. Do not let your dog eat anything with this ingredient, even in small amounts, it is quite dangerous.

Death will occur if xylitol poisoning is left untreated, so early treatment is key. Your veterinarian will induce vomiting and then follow up with supportive care to treat hypoglycemia and any signs of liver failure.


Dark Chocolate is considered toxic for both dogs and cats, and should be avoided. That being said, the type of chocolate (how dark it is/what it is blended with) and your animal’s weight, plus their unique metabolism, all determine the level of toxicity. This is why some dogs/cats can ingest small amounts of milk or diluted/blended with other ingredient forms of chocolate, even on a regular basis, and do not suffer any serious consequences. Check out this awesome chocolate meter which can help you determine if your pet has ingested a toxic amount of chocolate! It is a great tool that we recommend consulting/using any time your pet has consumed any amount of chocolate. Symptoms of concern in dogs/cats that have eaten chocolate can include:

  • vomiting/diarrhea
  • increased body temperature/reflex responses
  • muscle rigidity
  • rapid breathing
  • increased heart rate
  • low blood pressure
  • seizures

Advanced signs of toxicity could include cardiac failure, weakness, and coma.

What about cocoa bark mulch used in gardens? Read more about this risk here. We suggest avoiding using this in your home garden and to be mindful of this risk when your mouthy dog decides to chomp on mulch while out and about in local parks or neighbor’s yards.


Macadamia nuts (and many other foods) are very rich in fat, which may cause a flare of pancreatitis in dogs that already have this susceptibility. However, because individual tolerances for fatty foods can vary significantly and healthy, working dogs (and cats) do exceptionally well with very high (up to 50% or more) fat diets, we won’t consider fat content a toxic or “to avoid” risk; fat content is not the big concern with these nuts.

The primary issue of concern is that macadamia nuts have been shown to cause a very painful toxicity due to an unknown toxin that may result in quite serious neurological symptoms in dogs. Only 2 to 3 nuts eaten by a 10-pound dog can cause severe pain in muscles, joints, and tummy areas anywhere from 2 to 12 hours after eating. Although this poisoning does not result in death in general, it causes extreme discomfort and several alarming symptoms including muscle tremors, paralysis, staggering, and high fevers.


Walnuts, pecans and hickory nuts may be risky to feed; not *usually* the ones you buy that are beautifully fresh, clean, and healthy from most retail outlets (particularly organic, clean, yummy and fresh ones), but there is a high risk for nuts found on the ground in orchards or perhaps sold at a roadside produce stand, or nuts that are of lesser quality, have been on the shelf for a long time, or from unknown origins.

Walnuts, in particular, can be tainted by a toxic mold called ‘Penitrim A’, which is produced by Penicillium mould that contains tremorgenic mycotoxins; toxins can cause potentially leathal seizures or neurological symptoms in dogs and cats. A large amount of this ingested mold may cause seizures, increased body temperature, liver damage, and possibly death.

Because of these issues, in our opinion, macadamias and walnuts are two nuts that are best to avoid entirely. With pecans and hickory nuts, simply limit consumption to a few here and there; and be absolutely certain they are fresh, clean and never suspicious (as far as handling or quality) or moldy.

Safe nuts and seeds: your pet can enjoy small amounts of many other nuts and seeds (no shells, of course!) including unsweetened, organic, unsalted:

  • natural sunflower seed butter (the BEST alternative to peanut butter!)
  • sesame/tahini (an excellent choice! This is a seed that we highly recommend including as part of a healthy diet!)
  • cooked/roasted cashews (not raw)
  • hazelnuts
  • chestnuts
  • almonds
  • flax seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • chia seeds
  • pumpkin seed/butter and pumpkin seed oil (pumpkin seed is super beneficial – so outstanding that we include organic raw ground pumpkin seeds in our Vitality Blend!)
  • coconut meat or oil
  • pistachios

Special Note About Peanuts: While peanuts are not immediately “deadly” to dogs or cats, peanuts and peanut butter are something we suggest avoiding completely due to the high risk for contamination with aflatoxins (linked to liver cancer in humans and dogs/cats) and the very serious health concerns associated with the ingestion of peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut butter containing/flavored foods.

You can read more herehere, here, and here.

  • Symptoms of aflatoxicosis (which can occur from eating ANY food containing this toxic mold – not just peanuts, but other grains and cereals, including kibbled foods and many pet treats) in animals include: severe, persistent vomiting; bloody diarrhea; lack of appetite; fever; sluggishness; discolored urine; and jaundice, especially around the whites of the eyes, gums and belly.

Some sources will include figs, almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, and pistachios as being at risk for aflatoxin contamination, too. However, in our experience, these are generally very safe organic foods, when purchased fresh from a reputable source, of high quality; fed in small amounts, on occasion; and are not anywhere nearly as high risk as peanuts when it comes to this specific toxic mold.

Go easy on Brazil nuts: Brazil nuts may cause problems, but ONLY if they are fed in large quantities/fed frequently. The occasional brazil nut is perfectly fine for most pets, and will do no harm. The issue is the brazil nut’s high selenium content. Over time, when fed regularly, “hyper-vitaminosis” levels of selenium can lead to injury to the nervous system, liver, lungs and spleen.

sultaninen_artikelRaisins and Grapes (dogs) – more here . Grape/raisin/currant toxicity has been documented only in dogs, although there have been anecdotal reports of a similar problem in cats and ferrets. It is potentially fatal. This issue is perplexinig to those of us that used raisins as training treats without any issues years ago. Knowing there is something causing a serious toxicity in dogs these days, we now suggest avoiding raisins and grapes.

atlantic-salmon-portionsRaw salmon or trout (dogs) involves the serious risk of Salmon Poisioning Disease. Unless salmon and all types of anadromous fish have been cooked or deep-frozen for at least 7 days, this is risk. Read more on our past blog post here. Avoid feeding raw, unless properly frozen, or cooked.

porkWild Game & Pork: Raccoon, fox and bear meat/organs/bones should be avoided entirely. Raw pork and wild game (fit for human consumption and USDA inspected) can be safe to feed, but only after it has been frozen for at least three weeks. Wild game purchased from your local human-food outlet/butcher including venison, duck, rabbit, elk, and moose are safe to feed your dogs and cats.

Wild game sourced in our area/region (San Francisco Bay Area/Northern CA) present a variety of parasite risks that are eliminated entirely when the meats have been either properly cooked or pre-frozen for three weeks prior to feeding to your pets.  It is important to properly freeze all wild game and meats for a minimum of three weeks in your deep freezer to eliminate the possibility of any health risks for you or your animals from parasites.

Fresh, raw USDA inspected pork carries the low, but possible risk for certain parasites including trichinella larva, Toxoplasma gondii, and a swine disease known as Aujeszky’s Disease (or “pseudorabies”).

The risk for these parasites is low with “fit for human consumption” retail-ready, USDA licensed and inspected meats (the only meats SFRAW uses and sells). The incredibly rare possibility may still exist though, so we continue to recommend properly freezing prior to feeding these meats raw to your animals.

Aujeszky’s Disease is incurable and fatal to dogs and cats – so it is not worth risking the feeding of FRESH raw pork (just one of several possible routes of exposure to infection); best to freeze raw pork before offering it to your dog/cat! When a pet has become infected, the outcome is fatal within 48 hours after onset of the clinical signs. Clinical symptoms may include acute encephalitis, with excitation and hypersalivation; anorexia, intense pruritus (which leads to lesions due to scratching and self-mutilation). The disease progresses to symptoms that mimic rabies, with frothing at the mouth, loss of muscular control and erratic behavior.

Trichinosis can be a significant disease in people, but presents far less of a problem in dogs/cats. This parasite often goes undiagnosed in cats and dogs since they frequently do not present with clinical symptoms. In rare instances, severe symptoms may develop. Signs to watch for include: weakness, lethargy, inflamed or painful muscles, fever, diarrhea (which may or may not contain blood), hypersalivation (excessive drooling) disorientation, and behavioral changes.

Thankfully, these parasitic organisms are all highly susceptible to freezing and cooking – so you can certainly feed raw (previously/properly frozen) or cooked pork to your dogs and cats without any concern.

Pork is one of our favorite meats for dogs/cats and there is no reason to avoid feeding it (unless you have your own ethical or personal reservations about feeding/eating pork, which we respect).

Any USDA inspected/approved raw pork or pork bones that have been frozen for three weeks at a suitably low temperature will be safe for your dogs (and cats) to eat! We rely on pork necks, ears, snouts, trotters/feet, tails, pork leg meat, and various excellent pork offal cuts (heart, liver, tongue, kidney) as major players in our animal’s diets and have done so for decades without any issues. Two of my own Great Danes enjoyed a diet of 30% raw pork for their entire lifetime, it was a wonderful food for them – they lived to be 12 years of age and we had no pork related problems at all!

Pork is a wonderful choice! Just be sure you adequately pre-freeze (or cook) this meat prior to feeding. Properly freezing is easy to do, and worth the great benefits of this cooling, novel, nutritious, and tasty protein that we source from excellent pastured, heritage local sources. We think pork is a great addition to the diet when handled properly!


How to make Pizza Dough Process Shot. A121217 Fast: Southern Italy, Gastronaut: Pizza April 2013Active yeast (raw dough) raw dough, when ingested, causes some rather serious and painful symptoms in pets; best to avoid and keep this way from your animals entirely.

Spent Hops and Alcohol – hops used in home-brewing has been liked to death in some dogsAfter consuming spent hops, clinical signs of toxicity can include agitation, panting, excitement, flatulence, rapid heart rate followed by life-threatening elevations in body temperature. Death has been reported in as little as 6 hours without appropriate treatment. Prognosis for survival is generally guarded after symptoms are present. Any breed of dog (or, rarely, cats) may be affected, but breeds that are predisposed to malignant hyperthermia (extreme elevation of body temperature for an unknown reason) tend to be more susceptible.  These breeds include Greyhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernard, Pointers, Dobermans, Border Collies, English Springer Spaniels, and northern breeds.

If you suspect your dog or cat has consumed spent hops, seek veterinary care immediately! This is not something that should be managed at home. Quickly take a rectal temperature, and if it is found to be greater than 105 F, begin active cooling measures—such as dousing your pets body with cool water and wrapping icepacks in towels and placing them over its body—in addition to running the air conditioning in car while on your way to your veterinarian or local emergency clinic. This measure could help save your pets life and give him or her the best chance for survival.

Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets, yet many are not aware of just how toxic alcohol consumption can be to dogs and cats. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning may include:

  • Drooling
  • Retching
  • Vomiting or attempting to vomit
  • Distended stomach/bloat
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Coma
  • Hypothermia
  • Death

Ingestion of enough alcohol can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience metabolic acidosis, seizures, and respiratory failure. At this point, without treatment, death soon follows usually due to cardiac arrest. Even if a dog or cat doesn’t die from the acute effects of alcohol poisoning, the toxin can still harm the healthy functioning of their kidneys and liver, reducing quality of life over time.

Of course, due to the varied alcohol content (%) found in different drinks, some alcohol will be more dangerous to dogs and cats than others. In addition, your animal’s body weight and unique metabolism is a determining factor in their ability to “handle” the toxicity of different types and amounts of alcohol.

Beer contains the lowest concentration of alcohol, usually around 4%. Wine averages 10% alcohol by volume, but some hard liquor can be as high as 90% alcohol. Unfortunately, even small amounts of hard liquor can potentially kill a small dog or cat.

Remember, too, that alcohol can be found in foods and other consumables (not strictly in adult beverages) including: fruit cake, wine/liqueur-based sauces, and may be problematic if your pet consumes large quantities of fermented foods, etc. To be safe, we recommend that all alcoholic beverages and foods remain off-limit to pets regardless of their size and a drink’s alcohol concentration.

Corn Cobs, Seeds, Pits & Large Pieces of Raw Tubers/Roots/Vegetables are completely indigestible to dogs and cats, and can cause a fatal intestinal blockage with serious damage done to the GI tract.

Dogs and cats simply cannot digest/break down plant matter, especially these hard fibrous parts – leading to a life-threatening obstruction that may require emergency surgery that is not always successful and can involve deadly complications.  It is best to avoid these all together.

Corn cobs, in particular, are incredibly deadly and should be very carefully avoided. Be sure your pet does not get into the trash, or is handed a corn cob by a well-meaning house guest/visitor – this mistake could be potentially fatal!

If you suspect that your dog (or cat) has ingested a corn bob, pit/large seed (avocado, mango, cherry, peach, nectarine, plum and apricot pits) or any larger pieces of raw tubers or other whole, hard pieces of a solid vegetable – here are some good suggestions on what to do.

Sugar and Salt when sharing foods, or preparing meals, be very mindful of the food’s sugar or sodium/salt content. Never use ingredients that contain added sodium (enhanced meats, for example), sugar or salt to your animal’s meals, and refrain from seasoning their meals with added sugar or salt during preparation.

Enhanced or Preserved Meat & Poultry: AVOID! AVOID! When shopping for fresh, raw meat and poultry for your pet, it is critical to read the fine print on the labels at your local butcher/grocery/natural food store – and to avoid enhanced or preserved (even “naturally”) products.

Yes, even “natural” “hormone-free” and “antibiotic-free” meats/poultry can be enhanced and you simply must avoid these foods when shopping for your dogs or cat. Here’s a useful page that reviews statements to look for and how to identify enhanced meats. Statements that you may see on the product label (often in a very small print) include:

  • ‘‘ready-to-cook product to which solutions are added’’
  • “contains up to (added %) _______” – this indicates that the meat has been enhanced and pumped with a sodium containing solution.



A lot of fresh, raw meat is “enhanced”. It can also be “naturally preserved” (see above for an example of a product to avoid, with rosemary extract as a preservative). Preservatives, even natural ones like rosemary extract, present a possible – yet not very well documented/understood – issue for animals sensitive to these ingredients/additives. For example, rosemary extract has been suspected to be a trigger for seizures with some animals.

About 30 percent of all poultry, 15 percent of beef, and 90 percent of pork sold in the United States are injected with some kind of liquid solution before sale, USDA says, and it’s usually something high in sodium. These solutions pump up the meat’s volume and 6816299can “replace the flavor and moisture loss that results from raising leaner animals or from potential overcooking,” says the American Meat Institute. 

New labeling laws went into effect in 2015, but enhanced meats remain a concern for raw feeders; reading the labels carefully is vitally important when shopping for meats that won’t make your pet ill. 


If it’s not easy to find the “enhanced” statement on the packaging – and this may be very hard to read or find  – simply look at the nutritional analysis label to check the sodium content. Anything you purchase must contain under 100 mg sodium per serving. More than this means the poultry or meat has been enhanced in some way. Enhanced meats/poultry can cause vomiting and illness in your pet. Meat and poultry that you buy for your animals should not be enhanced, seasoned, or smoked in any way.


The above list includes FOODS that you need to avoid when preparing a fresh foods diet for your pets and sharing meals or snacks with them. Remember that any chemical-laden, processed, or non-wholesome foods and meals WILL have safety concerns and be damaging to your animal’s health.   

While on the topic, a few non-food/ common household, very high risk toxic items to know about include:

essential oils and medical flowers herbs

Essential Oils (cats) please avoid the use of essential oils on/around felines, period. While there are products sold for dogs/cats that are made with EOs – we think this is unsafe for cats and we do not recommend taking this risk. Hydrosols are a safer option for use around felines, should you want to incorporate aromatherapy in your home around your cats, choose to use hydrosols instead. If you use or diffuse EOs in your home, please be sure your cats are in a different room and be sure fresh air is available during and after use. Never put EOs on surfaces where your cat walks/steps, sleeps, or may be able to directly/indirectly ingest the EOs. Read more about this topic here.

Lilies and the pollen from these plants (cats) or, “When I order flowers for anyone with a feline household member, I ALWAYS ensure the bouquet will not include any lilies!”

It takes SO little exposure – just a bit of lily pollen blown into your yard is all it takes – and the consequences can be deadly! Members of the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera are highly toxic to cats. This includes: Easter lilies, day lilies, Tiger lilies, Japanese Show, rubrum, red, Western, wood lilies, and Stargazer lilies. Other plants with ‘lily’ in the name, such as peace lily (Spathiphyllum) or lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria), do not cause the kidney injury associated with members of Lilium and Hemerocallis. However, while Lily of the valley does not cause kidney failure, this common plant may cause life-threatening heart arrhythmia and death when ingested by dogs or cats.

Even the ingestion of small amounts (such as single bite of petals or leaves); exposure to the pollen (if they get it on their coat, for example) or taking a few sips from water from the vase of these flowers – can result in severe, acute kidney failure.  Download a flyer from UC Davis here.

If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily or if your cat comes inside with pollen on her/his coat, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently the lily poisoning can be treated. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis. Intravenous fluids must be started within an 18 hour window for the best outcome.

The death cap, Amanita phalloides, from button stage to full sizDeadly Wild Mushrooms (wild, found locally) – the Death Cap mushroom, a Category A toxic mushroom, is the most poisonous mushroom in the world and it grows right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Every year dogs die in our region from ingesting a deadly mushroom species appropriately named the Death Cap mushroom.  In the greater Bay Area, the Death Cap can be found at all times of the year, but most abundantly during fall and early winter rainy season. Be aware of mushrooms growing in your yard or places your pet visits. Death Caps can commonly be found growing around oak trees and cork oak, especially from late September through late October.

Besides Death Caps, two other types of poisonous mushrooms can be found in California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area region: the Destroying Angel and the Deadly Galerina, which is a distinctive orange. Be aware of this risk when out and about with your animals.


When ingested, even from just a single nibble/bite, the Death Cap mushroom causes acute liver failure and death. Clinical signs may occur as early as 6-8 hours or as long as 24 hours following ingestion. The initial gastroenteritis phase (which lasts about 24 hours) is generally characterized by profuse bloody diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, fever, tachycardia (irregular heartbeat), and hyperglycemia. The final—and often terminal, hepatorenal phase involves renal/kidney involvement with dreaded complications of end-stage liver disease that begins up to three to four days after ingestion. In addition, neurological dysfunction including hepatic encephalopathy and coma can occur. Typically, the animal dies three to seven days after ingestion.

However, some dogs show no real symptoms and quickly end up in a coma/death.  Some may just seem perhaps a little quieter, and not have an interest in food. These dogs can go from just being a “little off” to being in a coma and death within 24-36 hours. Sadly, there is no antidote for Death Cap mushroom poisoning; treatment is merely supportive.

Because the risk is fatal and there is no curative treatment, it is best to prevent exposure as much as possible, so walk your garden/yard regularly – without your animals – to inspect for mushrooms (collect and remove with gloves, then dispose of safely in a sealed plastic bag in the trash). When out and about with your animals, pay close attention to what your dog (or cat) might be nibbling on in the park or nature.

Death Cap mushrooms are unfortunately, good tasting and have a pleasant scent (like roses) — so they are appealing to many dogs and some cats. If you suspect your pet has eaten a wild mushroom, call your veterinarian immediately, induce vomiting (if easy and fast for you to do) and go straight to the veterinary ER. Bring a sample of the suspected mushroom for identification. For the sample, do not place the mushroom in a plastic bag, instead wrap in a moist paper towel, wax paper, or paper bag, if possible.

You may choose to induce vomiting right away by one of these methods – doing so immediately after they have eaten the mushroom may save your animal’s life:

  • Syrup of ipecac (1 teaspoonful per 10 pounds body weight)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3% (1-3 teaspoonfuls every 10 minutes, repeat 3 times)
  • One half to 1 teaspoonful of salt, placed at the back of the tongue

nwy-02070-2I would personally induce vomiting and then follow-up with a dose of a homeopathic remedy prescribed by my veterinary homeopath (more here) and activated charcoal. Giving activated charcoal pills, which are easy to administer on your way to the ER (dose is 5 ml/kg; a 50-lb dog would get 100-150 mg of activated charcoal — but the truth is, you can give more than this dose and not experience any adverse effects, so more would be OK) may help to reduce the damage done/inhibit absorption on the toxins within the GI tract. Repeated doses of activated charcoal by your veterinarian may be administered every four to six hours in an attempt to reduce the secretions from the liver to the intestines/blood of the mushroom’s amatoxins and may be of value up to 48 hours after ingestion.

If your animal actually survives an episode of ingesting one of these toxic mushrooms, I would suggest supportive care include starting them on therapeutic doses of Milk Thistle Seed powder/capsules — while there is no studies that prove this is helpful, I do not see how this could be harmful and it may be very beneficial.  Perhaps your veterinarian would even be willing to administer intravenous silymarin [milk thistle extract] in an ER setting – you will have to see what they are willing and able to do. Milk Thistle Seed may provide some hope in a rather hopeless situation, so it is worth considering.


Pet Treats and Pet Foods Found in Many Pet Stores: For decades now, I have personally completely avoided almost anything sold in pet stores for my dogs and cats; and have recommended the same to my friends and clients. Frankly, this is because it’s so much healthier, safer, less costly, and better to buy REAL, FRESH, WHOLE foods and ingredients sold in your local health foods store, high-quality local butcher, natural grocery/cooperative, or local food CSA program and to make your own treats & foods at home than to purchase overpriced/expensive and less healthy (and downright deadly!) options at most pet stores.

To put things into perspective, to date, it appears that even more dogs and cats have actually died and fallen ill from commercially sold pet foods and treats than all of the other foods that I have listed above, combined. This doesn’t include dogs and cats that suffer, and sometimes die, from chronic diseases such as autoimmune diseases, processed food/mold/mite and other pet food allergies, stubborn skin and gastrointestinal problems, obesity related illnesses (including arthritis and diabetes), and cancers associated from the daily consumption of commercially sold pet treats and pet foods.

Not all pet stores are made equal! Local, independent stores that are managed by knowledgeable owners/staff, with a dogged commitment to sourcing safer, healthier options for their customers DO exist (hey, just look at SFRAW/us, for example).

The reason why I started SFRAW in the first place was to source exceptional ingredients for people like me who were seeking out humane, ethically raised, sustainable, wholesome, fresh food ingredients from outstanding producers that we could trust when preparing our own foods at home. It’s generally less expensive and healthier for your animals to buy fresh, high quality “for human consumption” ingredients, and make your own treats & foods when you are able. Some of my dearest friends have owned/currently own independent local pet stores with outstanding care given to safe sourcing. For those of us that make our own food and treats, these exceptional local stores will remain your best choice for purchasing all your animal’s supplies: high quality litter, crates, gear/training equipment, beds, leashes/collars, toys, and sometimes even supplements or remedies to manage common health imbalances/concerns.






Written by sfraw

March 28, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Posted in Nutrition, Raw Food: Getting Started

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How Much Will it Cost to Feed Raw Through SFRAW?

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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. 


16124034_212621415868227_6907351016006483968_nAverage 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.



14732193_10153897789076669_7780212676044350461_nAverage 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.

13256183_10153545994446669_8304362180661014082_nOur 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!


Written by sfraw

February 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Transitioning to Raw: SFRAW Recommends

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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 MaxwellBayWoof’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.

14079703_10153730389051669_3406619940594208108_nWondering 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.

15235642_10153995895126669_321471456324891999_oOf 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;

Learn more from Dogs Naturally on Why You Should Fast Your Dog here.

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

How To:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

Pefectly Rawsome’s excellent guide to transitioning dogs to raw (this site is an amazing resource!)


Prey Model Raw: How to Switch

BARF World: Switching to BARF

Dogs Naturally Magazine’s Switching Dogs from Kibble to Raw article

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:

  1. well-tolerated and genuinely enjoyed by your dog
  2. 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.


Written by sfraw

February 9, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Defrosting and Re-Freezing Safety + Practical Tips for Raw Feeders

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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.

Submerging frozen meat (sealed in plastic) in cold water is a safe method to defrost food quickly!

Submerging frozen meat (sealed in plastic) in cold water is a safe method to defrost food quickly!

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

It is important to defrost all raw meat in a leak proof bin or very large Tupperware/Rubbermaid bin inside your refrigerator to ensure defrosted liquids that leak off the frozen meat packs do not contaminating your other foods.

It is important to defrost all raw meat in a leak proof bin or very large Tupperware/Rubbermaid bin inside your refrigerator to ensure defrosted liquids that leak off the frozen meat packs do not contaminating your other foods.

Refrigerator Thawing
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.

Submerging frozen meat (sealed in plastic) in cold water is a safe method to defrost food quickly!

Submerging frozen meat (sealed in plastic) in cold water is a safe method to defrost food quickly!

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.

When defrosting meals/fresh meat ingredients, use a drip-proof deep bin or bucket in your refrigerator to prevent leaks from occurring, which would contaminating your refrigerator and possibly other foods inside the fridge. When using the cold water method to defrost quickly, use a big bowl placed in the sink, or a bucket or deep bin in a cool temperature area of the home, for best results and easier sanitation/clean-up. TIP: We recommend simply using a clean cloth or disposable towel with hot/warm water, a little dish soap and white vinegar for sanitation. Please wash/clean or dispose of the towel or cloth after using it to clean-up raw meat meals and dutifully wash or replace your pet’s bowls/eating mats after each meal. If you use a sponge, you can run it through the laundry washing machine or dishwasher on sanitize cycle to re-use it again – replace frequently, as needed. Alternatively, you may consider using a Norwex cleaning cloth (imbedded with silver = antibacterial). Finally, after clean-up, spraying areas with a solution of either Grapefruit Seed Extract diluted in water or 3% hydrogen peroxide solution after you make meals or feed your pets is an additional measure of safety some people like to use. Just be sure you don’t get the peroxide solution into their food/meals. While it is safe and completely non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is used to induce vomiting in emergency veterinary medicine, and it may cause vomiting in your pet. After the peroxide solution has air-dried from the surfaces that you have sprayed it on, it is not a risk for this to your animals.


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!

Written by sfraw

January 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Register Now: Naturally Safe Seminar: Raw Feeding Safely | Natural First Aid Sunday, NOV 20th (new date) at 9 AM – 12 PM

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Naturally Safe Seminar: Raw Feeding Safely | Natural First Aid 

Sunday, November 20th (new date) at 9 AM – 12 PM

Space is limited (12 participants). Cost for the seminar includes one SFRAW Basic Natural first Aid kits for each participants (FREE); a limited supply of additional kits will be available to purchase for a fee.

Location: San Francisco Raw Feeders (SFRAW)

250 Napoleon St, Unit G, San Francisco, California 94124

Written by sfraw

September 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Register Now! SFRAW’s 2nd Raw Feeding Workshop for Puppies 🐶 🐾 | Sunday 8/14 9:00am – 11:30am

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“Big or small, we feed them all!”
A Hands-on Workshop on Preparing Raw Meals & Nutrition for Your Puppy’s First Year
DATE: SUNDAY August 14th, 2016
TIME: 9:00AM-11:30AM

DESCRIPTION: Your puppy’s first year is a critical period of development that will significantly influence and determine the outcome of their mental, behavioral and physical health for the rest of their lives. During this crucial first year, the nutrition, handling, and rearing choices that you make will have a lasting outcome.

The first part of this workshop will provide a brief overview of basic Natural Rearing principles and suggestions for setting your puppy up for success from a holistic perspective.

The second part of our workshop provides a hands-on experience where we show you how to put together a sample menu/diet and provide ideal nutrition for your puppy from weaning through the first 12-months of age. While making food, we will answer all of your general questions, discuss transitioning your puppy to raw, and preparing raw diets on a practical level. You will pick-up practical tips and tricks from seasoned raw feeders on how to feed fresh foods properly and how to manage every-day feeding with ease.

Participants will prepare a meal that they can take home to feed their puppy.

The third part of this workshop is a guided tour of SFRAW where we will help identify specific products that are particularly well-suited for puppies during that first year of life (including recreational chews, supplements and fresh food ingredients). Suggested shopping lists will be provided.

Participants are welcome to make purchases after class. Non-member participants are offered a one-time referral shopping discount (30% off/member pricing level) for any purchases made that day..

Space is limited to 12 participants (6 food prep stations will be set-up with two people per station).

Cost for the seminar includes food/ingredients, packaging and supplies involved in making the food you’ll take home. Please let us know in advance if your pet has any food allergies or intolerances so we will have ingredients that will work for your pet ready for you.

Terra Nova is a very happy, healthy Raw Fed Bulldog puppy!
41 day old Ibizan Hound Puppies! Raw Fed/Naturally Reared "Puppy Culture" Litter - few pups available to just the right raw feeding families.
“41 day old Ibizan Hound Puppies! A Raw Fed/Naturally Reared, “Puppy Culture” Litter from two health tested AKC Champions. These will be amazing adults due to the outstanding care and nutrition provided to them before/during their first weeks with their breeder, Crystal Hannah. Inquiries welcome — we hope one or two of them might end up as future SFRAW members!”


Be sure to Follow our blog and post a comment if you have any questions or feedback to contribute! If you feel so inclined, you can choose to share any of our blog posts on Facebook, Twitter or by emailing to friends. Thank you!


We strongly advise every single breeder and puppy parent to watch these videos about the most critical period of development for your puppy: birth to 12 weeks of age. The first 12-weeks is the most critical period of socialization and learning for puppies and what happens during this time will determine/dramatically influence your puppy’s future behavioral health for their lifetime. Set your puppy up for success by following this protocol!Jane Killion, author of When Pigs Fly, has assembled a team of experts to give fascinating insight, deep wisdom, and practical instruction for breeders, puppy owners or anyone else who touches puppies. Over 50 lessons are organized on a logical, week-by-week time-line to give breeders and puppy owners a clear road map for raising a puppy. The film follows one litter of puppies through the program and checks back on them over the next three years so you can see the profound, almost unbelievable results of the Puppy Culture program!
Juliette of the Herbs is a sweet/quaint documentary by director Tish Streeten that provides a portrait of the life and work of Kasie’s all-time-beloved hero, Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Juliette was a world renowned herbalist, author, breeder of Afghan hounds, friend of the Gypsies, traveler in search of herbal wisdom and the pioneer of holistic veterinary medicine. She originally published her book on Natural Rearing, The Complete Herbal Handbook for The Dog & Cat in 1955. You will find a dogeared copy forever on Kasie’s desk and at home in her bookshelf. Juliette’s book has been one of her favorite guides since she started feeding raw and Natural Rearing her own animals in 1989.
Kasie next to Saint Francis of Assisi statue in Sante Fe New Mexico

Book an appointment to meet with Kasie Maxwell (founder of SFRAW) for nutritional consultations and non-veterinary advice. Kasie will review what you are currently feeding, then will make suggestions for husbandry, food and supplements, based on her many years of experience and expertise. Kasie will provide you with specific dietary recommendations, nutritional advice & supplement suggestions for your individual pet’s needs. COST: $65 for up to 45-minutes for one animal.
Kasie has worked and lived with animals her entire life. Over the years she has worked as an assistant to a veterinary homeopath, veterinary technician and assistant, working student for an A-circuit hunter/jumper stable, trainer for a Hanoverian stable owned by a rider on the Belgian Olympic Equestrian Team, pet-sitter, wildlife rehabilitator, and has served as a foster home to many rescued animals. A vegan since 1983 and Raw Feeder since 1989, Kasie developed a strong interest in natural foods and healing, and has practiced  holistic animal husbandry for over two decades. Kasie has extensive experience with a wide range of natural modalities including the use of western herbs, natural diets, homeopathy, flower/gem essences, Reiki, acupressure, therapeutic massage, dietary supplements, and essential oils in both domestic and wild animals. Read More…
Alternatives for Animals, in Lafayette, offers true holistic veterinary care including acupuncture, whole food nutritional supplements, Chinese herbal therapy, laser therapy, homeopathy, nutrition response testing, chiropractic care, non-anesthetic dentals and bioresonance therapy for cats and dogs.  For SFRAW clients they are offering a reduced price of $85 for *new patient* exams (regularly $185).  To schedule an appointment, please call 925-283-6160 (be sure to let them know you were referred by SFRAW to get your discount!)
Information and instruction provided by SFRAW is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace the professional advice of your animal health care professional. Please use your good judgment.
Copyright © 2016 SFRAW, All rights reserved.

Written by sfraw

July 12, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Q & A: What Supplements Do You Recommend Adding To A Raw Diet??

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Wanted to share with our blog subscribers a fun conversation I had this week with one of our Facebook fans, Sergi Rodriguez‎. I thought this may be interesting to to others that may have the same question:
Q: “What supplements do you recommend adding to a raw diet. I know this may vary with age and specific issues related to different dogs but as a general rule what might you consider necessary? Thank you!”   – Sergi Rodriguez posted on the San Francisco Raw Feeders (SFRAW) Facebook page

A: Hi Sergi — Thank you for your excellent question! We are big advocates of providing all the nutrients your dog/cat needs through fresh, whole foods as much as possible.

When you feed a variety of foods: predominantly lots of fresh heart/muscle meat, different cuts of different animals/bone-in with consumable bone; rotating between 3-4 different proteins, a variety of offal (5% liver + others, including green tripe – which should be fed up to no more than 30% of the diet) – this is a good start. These animal derived foods should always be the foundation/cornerstone of an ideal diet for dogs & cats.

However, I do find it beneficial and best/a big improvement to also include small amounts of the following:

  • nutritive herbs
  • small amount of seaweeds (dulse, kelp, wakame and others – I think adding kelp/dulse in small quantities is important, not optional)
  • raw ground or soaked/sprouted seeds (my favorites are pumpkin and sesame; you might like to use flax – if your dog is not allergic to flax),
  • raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (optional)

I think it is important to make good use of seasonal foods such as:

during the warm seasons:

  • raw goat milk
  • yogurt/kefir (from raw milk sources)
  • truly pastured eggs

during the cooler seasons:

  • properly prepared bone broth for added gelatin/minerals

FUR/FEATHERS: If your animal enjoys eating fur & feathers (whole prey), this is especially beneficial for insoluble fiber/prebiotic function and connective tissue.

LIVE INSECTS: Some cats (and even some dogs) enjoy added live feeder insects, for treats — such as crickets, mealworms, butterworms, the occasional moth, etc.

VEGGIES & FRUIT: In addition, or alternatively, you can add small amounts of pulped green veggies, over-ripe fruits – cats sometimes enjoy melon and dogs can truly love their green “smoothies” — these provide added fiber and is a great source of antioxidants, plus some minerals. Fermented vegetables is an excellent choice when prepared with limited quantities of mineral-rich, unrefined real salt.

When you feed a nice variety of whole foods, we don’t see the need for additional supplements, for healthy animals.

For example, instead of an EFA/fish oil supplement, we recommend feeding whole sardines, anchovies, and/or a good source of salmon (please read about how to feed this safely here) as part of the regular diet.

Alternatively, we make a nice “EFA supplement” that is a grind of various fish fillets, including salmon, called Seafood Medley that works nicely for adding in fish to the diet for the omega/EFA benefits.

We also make two EFA/beneficial fat supplements that are not fish based, White Gold & Red Gold — they are traditionally rendered truly grass-finished/pastured beef/pork fat: rich in CLA and omegas. Red Gold is this product boosted with the addition of fresh organic turmeric, organic black pepper and organic/unrefined Red Palm Oil for the added anti-inflammatory benefits and additional carotenes, Coenzyme Q10, and all of the forms of vitamin E. You can also make your own easily if you have a good source of truly pastured pork or beef fat.

Of course, individual needs will vary and you may need to use supplements to treat specific imbalances in an individual animal — some animals require more of some things or metabolize foods differently.

I don’t think probiotics or digestive enzymes are necessary, unless you have an animal with a condition that would benefit from the addition of these supplements.

If you have a hard time sourcing all these goodies, you can look to some nice whole food based supplements — for example, the “Whole Body” products made by Standard Process are nice.

These are my own standards and guidelines that I feel confident suggesting after feeding raw, advocating for raw and researching animal (& human) nutrition for over 25 years. I hope this helps! – Kasie Maxwell, Founder/Owner San Francisco Raw Feeders (SFRAW)

Q: Yes, SUPER helpful!!! Thank you so much for that information!! I did see your recommendation of red palm oil somewhere else and I think I’ll be adding that to balance the Omega 3 oils. I’m currently feeding the pork mix with 30% fat, is this rich in omegas? Also what is CLA? One last question, for dogs who are sensitive to chicken meat, do they have the same sensitivities to chicken eggs? – Sergi Rodriguez

[Note: Sergi may be referring to our blog post about the use of Red Palm Oil here or about the importance of supplementing with vitamin E or vitamin E rich foods when feeding fish as a regular part of the diet here.]
A: Hi Sergi, Great questions!

First, we use/sell & recommend Nutiva brand organic Red Palm Oil — there are other good ones, too, but this brand is not harmful to the environment/wildlife or people/those working to provide this product.

Unfortunately, there are a number of Red Palm Oils that are produced in a manner that atrociously harms the local wildlife population (terrible harm to orangutans!) and ecosystem (though deforestation), as well as being involved with unfair labor practices. Nutiva’s Red Palm Oil is an excellent choice from a local company (to us) that has none of these risks or concerns involved, and the product is very high quality.

Yes, if you are feeding a pork mix from a truly pastured pork source (Marin Sun Farms products labeled as “green” for ruminants or “yellow” for non-ruminants, for example), then the fat will be rich in “good” fats/omegas: up to two to four times more of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals, up to five times more CLA, plus vitamin A, carotene, and vitamin E (meat from the pastured cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than conventionally raised cattle, for example).

As you may be aware, natural food source of Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant that is anti-aging, protective of cardiac diseases (in humans), and cancer (in all animals).

Pastured/grass-finished beef and pork fat/lard is also the second highest food source of natural vitamin D, just after cod liver oil. One tablespoon of lard contains approximately 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D – which is impressive – but this is not true with all lard/fat, only unrefined/minimally processed (traditional low-temperature rendering, for example) fat from truly pastured or grass-finished animals.

About CLA: meat (specifically beef) and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of a specific type of fat called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture up until harvest/slaughter, their meat/fat contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets. CLA is known for being protective against cancer – an obvious and very important benefit of feeding grass-finished/truly pastured meats & poultry! CLA is considered a beneficial fat because it has shown to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherogenic, anti-diabetagenic, immunomodulatory, apoptotic and osteosynthetic effects on the body. CLA has been linked to a reduction in asthma and food-induced allergic reactions – which is beneficial for dogs & cats that experience symptoms from food intolerances and allergies.

Interestingly, dogs/cats that are allergic to chicken are not necessarily allergic to chicken eggs. You would need to do a trial or diagnostic testing to determine if this is true or not for your individual dog. Also, some tolerate chicken great but are sensitive/intolerant to all eggs – you just never know how an individual is going to respond to a specific food (or food from specific sources). Fortunately, you can also try pastured duck eggs or even quail eggs, if you have a source for these. These are worth giving a trial with to see how your dog does. You can fed them raw, or slightly cook the egg whites, which I like to do since I am feeding multiple species and this works best for all involved. If you feed a lot of eggs, the yolks are nutritionally at their best fed raw, while the whites should be heated a bit because it deactivates/denatures a natural protein (avidin) found in the egg whites that binds tightly to the B-vitamin biotin and prevents its absorption. Biotin is important for a number of vital body systems (including healthy mental functioning/mood, skin and hair), so just be sure you are not overdoing it on the raw egg whites. Hope this helps!
Q: Wow! That’s a lot of great information. I honestly had no idea pastured/grass finished beef and pork contained all the nutrients you mentioned. Since pastured Beef and pork contain higher levels of vitamin E, do you recommend just a small amount of red palm oil? – Sergi Rodriguez
A: Yes, pastured/grass-finished meats, poultry, eggs & raw dairy should all be more nutrient dense when compared to commercially raised/handled products. This is just one of the many reasons why we are so committed to sourcing from these producers!

Yes, adding moderate amounts of the Red Palm Oil is still a good idea. Vitamin E is more abundant in these foods, but Red Palm Oil has a different/unique profile of nutrients, including additional forms of vitamin E. And, because you are relying on foods, rather than isolated or synthetically or naturally derived supplements, it is safe to use reasonable and moderate amounts in the diet for the added benefits these foods provide without the issue of hypervitaminosis.

Thank you sooooo much!!! – Sergi

You’re very welcome! – Kasie

Written by sfraw

March 30, 2016 at 5:18 am

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