San Francisco Raw Feeders (SFRAW)

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How to Make & Use Eggshell Powder as a Calcium Source

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About Eggshell Powder (ESP)

You can find commercially produced eggshell powder (ESP).  Some pet food companies (even raw pet food companies) use ESP as a calcium source in their foods.  However, there are several problems with commercially produced (not home-made) eggshell powder:

  • it comes from chickens that were raised in a factory farmed setting and subjected to unhealthy, cruel and inhumane conditions;
  • because of the way the birds are fed and kept, the eggshells may not be nutritionally equivalent to eggs that come from chickens raised on pasture or as pets in one’s backyard;
  • the shells are most likely irradiated, which denatures the product. “Irradiation damages food by breaking up molecules and creating free radicals. The free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with existing chemicals (like pesticides) in the food to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs)”. Besides freezing, we are very concerned by the use of any modern food additives or “kill-step” process that alter the natural nutritional and beneficial qualities inherent in food. We find these techniques (HPP and irradiation are the most widely used) high-risk/dangerous and potentially damaging to health;
  • they may be contaminated with arsenic and other heavy metals, or other potentially dangerous contaminants;
  • they usually come from Chinese sources. Unfortunately, this presents a problem with knowing what might be in them and what to test for to ensure safety and purity, even when lab testing is done by the US re-seller/manufacturer.

Thankfully, making your own eggshell powder is really simple.  Here’s how…

Start with Eggs: Pasture-Raised, Home-grown/Backyard or Certified Organic

Purchase eggs from chickens that were raised properly: either on pasture or from backyard, free-range chickens.  If your eggs are unwashed (BEST!), you will want to gently rinse the eggs (before cracking them) with a soft brush using produce wash or castile soap. Rinse well to make sure they do not have fecal matter, dirt or feathers on them.  You will want to collect at least a dozen eggs worth of shells before getting started.  Store the shells in the freezer until you have enough of them to make powder.

Make Eggshell Powder (three easy steps!)

RINSE: Rinse the eggs well, but gently – rinse them three times with fresh water or run water over a pile of the shells in a colander.  Do not remove the membrane; it is a healthy addition to the diet and is a powerful joint supplement.

If you are concerned about salmonella, you can also chose the additional step of boiling the eggshells in water for 10 minutes. This will eliminate the risk associated with bacterial contamination (please, keep in mind, this risk is mostly an issue for people and rarely a health risk to dogs/cats).

DRY: Next, dry the eggshells out completely.  You will want to dry the eggshells out in an oven or on a sunny windowsill really well for a few reasons.  The drier they are, the easier they are to grind and the safer they are to be stored on the shelf – moisture can lead to mold growth, which may be toxic or dangerous.  The shells should be completely dry to the touch, brittle and quick to crumble.

  1. Bake in the oven at 250-350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Place eggshells in an open, shallow dish in any south-facing full sun window. Leave for a week or more until totally dry.
  3. Place eggshells in a dehydrator and dehydrate until achieving a desired “bone dry” consistency

GRIND:  Crumble the shells down a bit and then grind them in small batches in a coffee grinder, mortar & pestle, or food processor.  You may need to run and pulse the grinder or food processor back and forth to get them ground up completely.  An ideal consistency is that of baking powder, but if it’s a little bit coarser than this, that’s okay.  You want them to be fully ground into a gritty powder at a minimum because the finer the grind, the better the calcium can be absorbed by the body.  When done grinding, be sure to keep the lid on the grinder to allow the powder to settle first or you will open up a cloud of powder.  If stored in a cool, dark, dry place, ESP will last for a year on the shelf.

Using Eggshell Powder

Eggshell powder is an excellent source of calcium for those that do not feed consumable whole or ground bones as a part of the daily diet or use a product that already includes enough calcium to balance the phosphorus in the meat, organs, produce and grains you are feeding.  Note: Feeding dairy as part of the diet does not provide adequate dietary calcium for dogs or cats to balance their diet!!!


General Feeding Guidelines:

1 teaspoon of eggshell powder contains an average of 1800 mg of elemental calcium carbonate. 

The consistency of your grind will slightly alter how much calcium is in a teaspoon (range is 1800-2200 mg/teaspoon). It is best to err on the side of a little extra calcium than to underfeed this essential and vital nutrient for dogs and cats.

We have some general feeding guidelines for the use of eggshell powder below.  Different cuts of meat and different proteins will each have unique phosphorus levels, but this is a good general guideline that will provide your pet with an adequate amount of calcium in their diet.

Note: If you really want to get specific with your calculations, I LOVE the very awesome El-Sham’s online calculator tool to calculate perfect ca:ph in your pet’s food — it has been around for over a decade and it’s an oldie but goodie (highly recommended!!)  

Weight of Meat | Ground Eggshell

¼ pound               |     1/8 tsp

½ pound               |     1/4 tsp

1 pound                |     1/2 tsp 


Links to Learn More

Catcentric (for felines)

Dogaware (for canines)

Eggshell Powder for Human Consumption – YES!

Here’s a site that shows you how to prepare calcium for people consumption from eggshell powder.  Check out this blog post to learn about using eggshells as a calcium source, but also about other great uses around the home!  

Originally written by Kasie Maxwell for SFRAW 2006; revised/updated 2017.

Our Suggestions on the Use of Homeopathic Remedies for Acute/First Aid Symptoms

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Copyright protected. Written by Kasie Maxwell, April 2008.


Sometimes Kasie makes a recommendation for or prepares a homeopathic remedy for your animal on a First Aid/acute basis. This is the information sheet written by Kasie is provided with your custom remedy. Posting here for easy reference.

If you have an animal with a chronic issue/disease or symptoms that you would like treated homeopathy, please consult with a qualified classical homeopath. You can find veterinary homeopaths referrals here


Homeopathic Remedy Handling, Storage and Antidotes

Homeopathic remedies are essentially vibrational medicine, and they are easily overwhelmed by other strong material vibrations.  Certain substances will decrease the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies and if used during the first few months of a chronic case (or the first few days in an acute case), can confuse the interpretation of your response.

  • Remedies should be stored out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark place.
  • Do not place your remedies in close contact with magnets or microwaves.
  • Do not store or open remedies around strong odors (cooking, painting cigarette smoke, eucalyptus, etc.).
  • Avoid raw garlic for at least 2 hours after or before taking remedies.     Avoid keeping remedies in extreme cold or heat.
  • Avoid contact with your animal’s tongue or saliva on cap or dropper.
  • Since the effect of x-ray and other airport security devices on remedies is unknown, assume that this type of exposure would be detrimental to the remedies.
  • Any pellets removed from the bottle/envelope should be discarded or used, and not be placed back into the container.
  • The patient should avoid contact with strong aromatics or toxic odors when being treated homeopathically.  This includes things like cleaning solutions, eucalyptus, wintergreen, mints, essential oils, strong perfumes, strong after-shave and soap, smelly chemicals, moth-balls, chamomile, tea tree oil, liniment rubs, strong perfumes, camphor, and menthol.
  • Smoke from cigarettes, marijuana or incense may antidote remedies. It is best to keep your pet from having contact with second hand smoke from these substances while being treated homeopathically.

Giving Remedies

When working with the remedies, never touch the pellets or tablets. Tap ONE (1) pellet into the bottle cap and then pour this dose from the cap directly to your pet’s mouth.

I find it easiest to wait until your dog/cat is sleeping or resting on their side.  If they will stay relaxed when you approach them, you can gently pet them, then lift their lip up and drop the pellet into the side of their mouth into the gum/lip area.  Close the lip back over the remedy.  Allow the pellet to dissolve along the side of their mouth.  The pellet does not need to be swallowed, just needs to come in contact with the mucous membrane area of the mouth.

Make sure your pet does not eat or drink anything 1 hour before or after taking a remedy. This includes other medications as well as vitamins and supplements. Water is permitted anytime before or after a remedy.

Conventional medications, herbs and supplements may have to be discontinued during homeopathic treatment. This is decided on an individual basis.

Whenever possible, give the remedy at bedtime/napping, as the body is at rest.

Give the remedy away from meals, at least 1 hour before/after eating. The mouth should be free of any strong tastes.

Options for Administration of the Dose

Dry Dosing

Whenever working with homeopathic remedies, you will always want to first pour ONE pellet into the cap from the vial. Then, drop this single pellet into your pet’s mouth or lip area, and allow it to dissolve there.  That’s it.

Medicinal Solutions

Alternatively, you can make a MS (Medicinal Solution) of the remedy and give a liquid dose, if this seems easier for you and your pet.

How to Prepare a Medicinal Solution (MS) for Homeopathic Remedies


¼ cup   Spring, distilled or filtered (non-chlorinated) room temperature/ cool water

1 pellet             Homeopathic remedy of choice

            Note: use only ONE remedy at a time, DO NOT combine remedies.

Place water and pellet into a clean, dry glass container.  Allow the pellet to dissolve in the water by just sitting in the water for about 15-20 minutes.  Stir the solution very briskly or vigorously 10 times with a spoon.



Immediately take 1 tsp. of this solution and place into a glass 4 oz. bottle with a lid that contains:

7 Tbs.   Spring, distilled or filtered (non-chlorinated) room temperature or cool water 1 Tbs.          Vodka or other grain-alcohol sprit (as a preservative)



Before administering a dose of this remedy, tap the covered/closed bottle firmly on the palm of your hand 10 timesGive 1 tsp. of the MS, once.  That’s it!

Repeat the dose only if:

You witnessed a noticeable improvement in the animal’s condition after the first dose  AND the condition has now gotten significantly/dramatically worse.

MOST animals only require one dose of the remedy at that’s it, others might need it given every month or every 30 minutes; frequency of administration just depends on the individual and how acute the condition is.  For this reason, it is advised that you consult with a classical homeopath whenever possible to guide you in both selecting the remedy, when to re-dose, when to wait, and when to change remedies.  When in doubt, do not repeat the dose – it is best to wait and consult with someone first before giving another dose of a remedy.

In acute situations, if you do not see improvement after giving a remedy in a reasonable amount of time (12-24 hours), then it may be best to change to a different remedy.  These decisions are best made by those well trained in homeopathy, or with sufficient experience in using homeopathy.

Plussing A Remedy

Sometimes you will be instructed to plus a remedy.  Plussing is performed in the following manner:

Place one (1) pellet of the remedy into 4 ounces of spring water (filtered water is okay but not chlorinated tap water). Use a bottle or jar with a cap/lid.

Allow the pellets to sit and dissolve for 20 minutes.

Take the closed vessel with this solution in it and shake or tap on the palm of your hand vigorously 10 times to potenize the solution.

Give just 1 TSP. of this solution immediately after succession (shaking/tapping).

Either discard or set aside the remainder of the solution – depending on what your homeopath has instructed.

If you are instructed to set the remedy aside, follow steps 3 and 4 only to repeat a dose.

Homeopathic Recovery

According to the homeopathic “law of cure”, in the course of cure during homeopathic treatment, the symptoms improve from the inside outward, from above downwards, from the most vital to the less vital organs, and in the reverse order of their original onset of appearance. The vital force, energy, and the most commonplace symptoms such as general emotions, improve before physical symptoms. It is common during homeopathic treatment for earlier or suppressed symptoms to reappear briefly. This is actually beneficial because the re-emergence of old symptoms shows that they are no longer suppressed and can indicate the original factors of the recent illness and be treated. Chronic, longstanding symptoms take longer to cure than recent and acute maladies.  In chronic cures, when you see an improvement in the animal’s overall state of being – their mental and emotional state (happy, content, playful, relaxed) – then you know the remedy is doing it’s job, even if the external physical symptoms may not be improving right away.

The animal may go into a deep sleep period immediately after taking a remedy.  This is not a negative side-effect; it means the body is working on healing itself.

It is important to give remedies time to work.  In most cases, you should wait a minimum of 12-24 hours before deciding a remedy is not working or an incorrect choice.

Allopathic Drugs and Homeopathy

Homeopathic remedies do not undermine the action of drugs or interact with them. On the other hand, drugs may neutralize homeopathic remedies, most especially antibiotics, and steroids such as cortisone and prednisone.  The primary obstacle to using homeopathy while an animal is on medication is the suppression, masking or altering of symptoms.  Symptoms are the vital force’s way of communicating and expressing imbalances.  Homeopaths rely on these symptoms to choose the most appropriate remedy for an individual’s case.  Altering or suppressing these symptoms through medications (natural or chemical) makes it very difficult or impossible to determine which remedy is correct for the overall picture of dis-ease the animal is presenting.  This is especially true of chronic disease.

Written by sfraw

April 23, 2017 at 10:24 am

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New Study: Raw Meat Diets Best for Dogs + 2003 Study: Fresh Food Diets Increase Longevity in Dogs by (almost) Three Years!

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I wanted to share the encouraging results of a study published recently that shows a raw, meat based diet provided a number of important health benefits for dogs.  The researchers concluded, “we can improve the well-being of our canine companions by serving up a high meat diet rather than the “human-like” fare favored by many”.

Essentially, this study shows that the best nutrition for dogs is a carnivorous raw meat based diet. Unfortunately, we started to feed dogs and cats processed foods that worked best for the food industry, not what works best for dogs and cats as species.

rawvsdryThe creation and development of kibbled foods for pets originally had absolutely nothing to do with what equates the ideal or even best/most nutritious foods for dogs/cats. The template for formulating “pet foods” (which became mainstream in the 1940-50s — not that long ago) had everything to do with how to make money on various by-products from the industrialized grain industry; how to feed pets as inexpensively as possible, using less high quality/more expensive meat proteins (not ideally, from a nutritional standpoint). Pet food was an idea hatched as a new revenue stream for large corporate interests, not to create the ideal food that is best for dogs and cats.

Unfortunately for our animals, since we started to manufacturer proceed kibbled pet foods, the template used for manufacturing pet food has remained firmly in place even now. The only difference has been more clever marketing and some modifications that really do not make a meaningful difference in the quality of the foods or how they are digested/tolerated by our carnivores.

The truth is, in every bag of “grain-free” or fancy kibble, is the same high carbohydrate, highly processed, supplemented (not a good thing IMO!), unhealthy foods that source meats from some of the most inhumanely handled animals within the food system. Our companion animals have been suffering the consequences of eating foods they are not biologically designed to digest and thrive on ever since kibble hit the market.

The study is small and took place over a short period of time (food trials done by the pet food industry share these conditions). I wish the study involved a larger sample size and that a longer period of time was allocated for collecting data, but this study remains worth considering since it is a rare study that looks at the difference between dogs eating a raw meat based diet vs. those eating kibble with impressive results.

One of the most interesting aspects is their collection and analysis of data associated with the microbiome of these dogs. As you may already be aware, microbiome analysis and research is revealing a lot about health and is certainly a hot topic these days.  The information this study provides us with reveals that dogs truly are designed to eat raw meat, and that a raw meat based diet is what their bodies truly do best on.  Read on for more from various news reports about the study…

New Zealand dog diet study a wake-up call for dog nutrition. The study found that:

  • High meat diets are more digestible for dogs
  • More nutrients from a high meat diet are able to be absorbed
  • Dogs on a high meat diet had higher levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion
  • Dogs on a high meat diet had smaller poo and better fecal health

Study co-lead Associate Professor David Thomas of Massey University said finding high levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion was particularly exciting as it demonstrated that a dog’s gut is biologically designed to digest high meat diets.

“We already know dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates in their diet, so this study looked at the role different bacteria play in a dog’s digestion system – to help us work toward a clearer picture of what the optimum diet is for dogs,” says study co-lead Dr Emma Bermingham of AgResearch. More Here… ”

“The independent New Zealand study – only the second of its kind in the world – found the high meat diet is easier for dogs to digest, means more nutrients are able to be absorbed, and resulted in higher levels of bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion. Read More… 

Study Shows Raw Diet Promotes Healthier Digestive System in Dogs

“A study published online last month (in February 2017) investigated the differences in a dog’s fecal microbiome when fed a raw food diet in comparison with an extruded food. The abstract states, “Dietary intervention studies are required to deeper understand the variability of guy microbial ecosystem in healthy dogs under different feeding conditions. Read More...”

While on the topic, it may be worth mentioning an additional study published in 2003 that supports the health benefits of feeding “fresh foods” (aka real, whole foods compared to processed commercial diets) to dogs. This study looked at an impressive sample size of 552 dogs over a 5-year period.  Even if the results or conclusions are imperfect, this study shows an incredible difference between dogs fed commercial processed diets vs dogs fed table scraps or fresh foods of living longer by nearly 3 years.

17621677_10154329241386669_1536510725155126675_oCan you imagine making a change to your daily diet that would allow you or someone you love to live an additional 18 good and healthy years!!??? For humans, with a current average lifespan of 79 years, our improved average lifespan would be 97 years old!

For dogs, the current average lifespan is 11.5 years — according to the research from this study, feeding fresh foods provided dogs 23% more of their total lifespan; nearly three more years of life. The new average lifespan for dogs would be over 14 years. To me, that is HUGE and something we should certainly think more about and look at more closely.

If you want to read more, I highly suggest checking out this article by Dogs Naturally Kibble: Why It’s Not A Good Option For Your Dog or or several pages/articles on this site here, and this blog post here.

whynotkibbleStudy Shows a Dramatic Improvement in Longevity by Feeding Fresh Foods

In 2003, Dr. Gerard Lippert and Bruno Sapy published a 5-year study of 552 dogs in Belgium that looked several key factors influencing the relationship between the domestic dogs’ well-being and life expectancy on a statistical basis. Characteristics that were analyzed included breed, type, size, weight, sterilization status, nutrition/diet, living conditions/housing, and family environment. ,

canstockphoto28571574The conclusions were that two intrinsic factors (a dog’s breed and size) had a major influence on the dog’s life expectancy, while two external factors (housing and family configuration) had no significant impact. The two most influential external/acquired characteristics that had dramatic impacts on a dog’s life expectancy were sterilization, and the type of food they were fed during their lifetime. According to this study, sterilization raises the average middle age of the dogs in the study by 21 months (1 year and 9 months).  However, diet showed to have the most profound and dramatic determination in life expectancy.

The study showed that dogs fed a diet exclusively of home-prepared meals (eating a similar diet as the human family) lived an average of 32 months – close to 3 years! –  longer compared to dogs fed a commercial canned food diet. Dogs fed canned foods with the addition of real foods (essentially, fed table scraps) lived, on average, 1 year longer than dogs eating exclusively a commercial canned food.

The summary conclusion of the study states that, “giving dogs home-made food is a guarantee for better protection, well-being and longer life expectancy” and “it is clear from our analysis that the implication of the proprietor of the dog in the selection of food served to the animal is of the greatest importance and that the life expectancy for his dog is directly related with the quality of the food.”

Of course, we agree that feeding fresh foods is ALWAYS, always your very best choice — we also think the quality of every fresh food ingredient being fed really does matter, and will make a significant impact on your animal’s health (yours, too!)  We also know, looking at a dog’s undeniable carnivorous physiology, that they are meant to eat a meat based diet. Along this topic, check out Dogs: The Omnivore-Carnivore Question by Dr. Jeannie Thomason & Dr. Kim Bloomer.


It is nice to see two studies that support what we have witnessed and experienced anecdotally for decades and historically before the invention of kibble and canned processed/commercial pet foods. It would be wonderful to see even more research done so we can make the best choices for our best friends and provide them with the longest and healthiest lives possible.




Written by sfraw

April 8, 2017 at 11:32 am

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

Tagged with

Delicious, Healthy Spring Recipes for You to share with your Dogs or Cats!

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Happy Spring!!!  Today is the first day of spring and it’s a great opportunity to try a fresh, delicious, detoxifying spring treat you can share with your dogs and cats!

Fresh Herbs: MY FAVORITE!

If you haven’t tried incorporating fresh herbs yet in your pets’ meals yet, spring is a wonderful time of year to try adding some fresh herbs in their diet!

Did you know herbs are not only tasty, and enjoyed by most dogs and cats, but also some of the most nutrient dense foods you can offer your companions (and enjoy yourself)?

One the the easiest and tastiest ways to add a bit of fresh herbs to your dog/cat’s diet is to make a home-made pesto that you can drizzle over meals — yours and theirs!

If you are unsure if your animal will enjoy the strong flavor of fresh pesto, it may be a good idea to try offering it alone first before adding to their meals, or mix some of the pesto into something they really love. For dogs, this may be fish/seafood or Green Tripe. For cats, they may enjoy their pesto is teeny amounts; added to a dab of butter or lard/duck fat with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast or drop of two of tamari. YUM!

Pet-Friendly Fresh Pesto

  • 1 cup organic parsley or cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup organic basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon organic mint leaves (cats may prefer fresh catnip leaves  – yes, you and your dogs can eat this, too!)
  • 1 tablespoon organic oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons organic raw tahini (you can use different seeds or nuts for this, but we think tahini adds the best flavor – avoid using macadamias or walnuts, which are both toxic to pets!)
  • 1 tablespoon organic lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 clove organic fresh garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon/pinch of Himalayan pink salt
  • Freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste

    My favorite tahini! Yes, you can get this at SFRAW!

Get creative and try other herbs, if you’d like – for example, dill is another nice herb most pets enjoy. Do not use onions, chives, leeks — these are all toxic to dogs and cats.
  1. Wash and trim all ingredients, as needed. Add all ingredients to a food processor, use the chop function at first, then scrape down sides once and process until it is blended together.  Adjust seasonings to your preference.
  2. Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight glass or ceramic jar; use within 10 days.
Your dog/cat will let you know if they want more or less. Trust their judgement — animals are amazing herbalists!

Your pet can have a little bit of this tasty treat every day; you can enjoy as much as you like, too!


Serving Suggestion: Use a little pesto or plain tahini and a bit of pesto in a Nori sheet — just remember that cucumbers, carrots and other veggies need to be cooked/steamed or very thinly grated for safe feeding to your dog/cat — they can’t easily digest vegetables. I don’t recommend using peppers or tomato. Celery, avocado, cucumber, carrot, cauliflower, cabbage are all OK. Sprouts are an awesome addition! Or try mint with a bit of mango (peeled, ripe/mashed), teeny bit of sliced dates or dried figs, and avocado — delicious!

Additional Serving Suggestions:  If you have organic avocados and organic pastured eggs, you can also use this pesto to top a delicious dish off with (see below for the recipe) – it’s another great meal that you can share with your animals as a treat.

Of, if you have picked up some delicious organic quail eggs and some nice, lean pastured red meat (beef, elk, venison) from SFRAW, you can make some steak tartare to share and this pesto would make a nice accompaniment.



Easy Baked Avocado Stuffed With Egg

  • 1 organic avocado, halved and pitted; peeled (do not feed the pit or peel to your pet — these are the dangerous bits of an avocado — otherwise, they are perfectly safe and healthy to feed dogs & cats — just not OK for birds!)
  • 1 tsp organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 organic pastured eggs
  • 1 small handful of chopped organic fresh parsley or dill, chopped
  • A shake of organic ground sweet paprika, turmeric or cumin powder (yes, dogs and cats can have this, too!)
  • Himalayan pink salt and organic freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • Brush or drizzle the avocado halves in olive oil and crack the eggs into each hole.
  • Place the egg-filled avocado halves onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake the avocado halves for about 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked.
  • Take out the avocado halves and sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs, spices, salt and pepper.
  • Allow to cool first before serving to your pet. Alternatively, your pet can eat this raw and not baked — if they prefer it this way! Just be sure to remove the peel — the peel is not safe for your dog or cat to eat!
  • How much can they have? one 50-lb dog can eat 1/4 of one avocado with egg (1/2 of one half); an averaged sized adult cat can eat 1/8 (1/4 of one half) of the avocado/egg.

Tartare with Quail Eggs

10 ounces high quality, truly pastured red meat; very lean (beef, elk, venison – elk or venison must be frozen before eating raw), hand cut into ¹/8-inch dice

3-4 organic quail eggs, beaten (quail eggs are safe to eat raw — they are traditionally used in tartare because they do not present the risk for salmonella!)

1 organic anchovy fillet, chopped

1 tsp organic capers or 1 gherkin, rinsed and chopped finely

Himalayan pink salt and black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon fresh organic lemon juice

½ tsp organic wheat-free tamari sauce (optional)


4 additional quail eggs, sliced open with quail egg scissors (yes, we sell these at SFRAW!)

Microgreens for side garnish (optional)

Organic extra virgin olive oil (drizzle over, at serving)

Fresh pesto — on the side, for dipping (see above)



  1. Defrost and hand-chop the meat. Trim off any fat, then thinly slice the meat first. Cut each slice into matchsticks, then cut across into small cubes.
  2. Crack 3-4 quail eggs (discard of shells or give to your pet to eat), whip with the chopped anchovy, gherkin/capers, lemon juice, tamari, salt and pepper until well mixed. Delicately add chopped meat and mix very lightly; just enough to combine and coat the meat with these blended ingredients. DO NOT OVERMIX. Refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Shape the meat into two round patties, using a chef’s ring if you have one, and place on serving plates. Top with a quail egg, sea salt and pepper. Snip off one tablespoon of microcress/rinsed & dried sprouts and scatter around, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve with a side of the pesto and sliced cucumbers, turnips, raw seeded crackers (make sure they are grain and onion-free) or baked or dehydrated, thinly sliced, organic peeled potato (Japanese Sweet Potato works nicely for this).
  • How much can they have? one 50-lb dog can eat up to 8-10 oz; an averaged sized adult cat can eat 2 TBS.

We give a resounding YES to “Tablescraps!”

So long as your pet is healthy, they can share healthy food with you. Fast foods, fried foods, junk, packaged and processed foods are not good for you or your animals – please do not eat them or share these with your animals. 

However, wholesome, fresh, whole foods that are organic, healthy, not too high in fat (be careful of overdoing it with rich foods), low in sodium, and include 100% pet safe ingredients are not only A-OK to share with your furry family members, but this is precisely how we ALL prepared meals for our companion animals for — well, since forever! – well before there was ever a pet food industry telling us not to!

Sharing food with your beloved animal family members is a wonderful way to bond with them and to make meals times more fun and enjoyable — the love that goes into making yummy treats for them is good for their overall health and wellness.  These foods and sharing meals is also good for you! 🙂

When sharing meals, just be sure you know which foods are safe for dogs & cats to eat (my next blog post will review this topic for raw feeders/fresh food feeders — many lists that you find online are inaccurate, at best!)

Also, please understand that the above recipes I’ve shared here are in no way “complete and balanced” for everyday feeding.  That being said, you can certainly add a bit of the above pesto to their daily meals without concern for harming your pet. You can share these snacks with your dogs or cats a few times a week. Also, these treats do “count” as “food” nutritionally — so, if they get a significant amount and not just a bite or two, these treats/meals should be fed in place of their usual meals (and can be done without concern over creating a serious imbalance in their diet, on occasion).


Written by sfraw

March 20, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Posted in Nutrition

Q&A: Feeding Necks & Hyperthyroidism in Dogs

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QUESTION: “Our healthy 5-year-old greyhound just had baseline labs done, and we were all shocked to find her T4 level off-the-chart high. Range is .8 – 3.5, and her value was 8.8. She does not have any symptoms of hyperthyroidism.  Greyhounds often have low thyroid conditions, not high. Our holistic vet asked if her diet includes neck bones, which they do. She probably eats 3 or 4 neck bones a week, turkey or lamb. Apparently she could be ingesting a thyroid gland or hormones. Has anyone heard of this risk? We are eliminating neck bones for one month and then will retest. If it’s not diet related, she thought it might be a tumor. I hate the thought of that. – Michele, Thursday, January 28, 2016”

ANSWER:  Hi Michele,  Thanks for posting this interesting question! It’s a good topic to review.

I am glad to know she does not have any symptoms of hyperthyroidism, but because this value was so high without any symptoms, I would first suggest running the test again now to make sure there wasn’t an issue with the test itself before you make changes to the diet. She may certainly be one of the dogs that is experiencing dietary induced hyperthyroidism (which is easily reversible, thankfully!), but you’d want to be sure the test is accurate as it is still quite rare.

Yes, newer research has indicated an association between the regular feeding of necks, trachea/gullets and/or head meat, either fed raw or given as dried treats, and hyperthyroidism in some dogs.  Hyperthyroidism is incredibly/terribly commonplace and prevalent in cats; but not so for dogs – most dogs with thyroid disease exhibit symptoms of/will be diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive), not hyperthyroidism (overactive).

The feeding of neck bones (chicken, lamb, beef, etc) is incredibly common and popular in raw feeding, as these bones are some of the safer options for RMBs– soft/not weight bearing, easy to find and easy to feed – but there is this new research that shows an association with a possible risk of hyperthyroidism. The information we have so far is from some rather small samples of patients and we have been feeding a lot of raw necks/tracheas/gullets to lots and lots of dogs for many years without seeing this as a major issue/risk…but, obviously, for some dogs (perhaps with an underlying predisposition or perhaps when this is the only or predominant RMB being fed?) this is a problematic food that should be avoided or at least minimized through feeding more variety (indeed, completely eliminated & avoided until the tests results are back to normal).

The good news is that 100% of the dogs that had elevated levels/hyperthyroidism while consuming head meat, necks or gullets all reverted back to completely normal once these possibly gland-tainted bones were replaced with other RMB options.

I concur with the following analysis and good suggestions from Dr. Becker about this topic – this is another issue that proves feeding a wide variety of different foods is vitally important (no matter what you are feeding) to avoid overdoing any specific nutrients or causing even rare dietary imbalances such as this:

“To avoid diet induced hyperthyroidism in your raw fed pet, my recommendation is to make sure you are feeding a variety of protein sources and cuts of meat (thigh meat, etc.) so that your dog isn’t eating a steady diet of raw meaty bones/necks that could contain active thyroid tissue.

If your pet is a healthy, raw-fed dog, it’s not necessary to go out of your way to avoid foods that may possibly contain thyroid tissue. The studies I mentioned above involve a very small number of dogs that I suspect were eating the same cuts of meat (necks) for a prolonged period of time. Thankfully, their hyperthyroid conditions were easily reversed with a simple dietary change, but this study reinforces my belief that pets need a variety of different meat sources (and body parts) for overall health and wellbeing. So if you’ve been feeding poultry necks regularly as the foundation of your dog’s raw food diet, consider changing up your recipe to include other cuts (wings and backs) and diversify your protein sources.

I also recommend you keep an eye out for symptoms of hyperthyroidism (and any other possible illness) in your pet, and see your veterinarian for regular wellness checkups that should include measuring your dog’s blood thyroid hormone levels.”

More here:

Even though it is a rare condition, I hope it is indeed from the necks and that, after making an adjustment to her RMB selections, her values will revert back to normal. I hope it’s not a tumor, too (even though this is the more common reason for hyperthyroidism in dogs).

Along these lines, it is important for all raw feeders (cats & dogs) to be sure to not overfeed iodine containing foods such as kelp/seaweed and even too much fish. Remember: variety is key & everything in moderation! Kelp is an excellent, and even necessary, part of a balanced raw diet, but feeding far too much of it can cause problems with thyroid health.  Just be sure you are following a good dietary guide, never overdo any single component or ingredient, and try to not get into a rut of feeding the same things endlessly/over & over – this is, again, another reminder of why it’s SO important to mix it up!

Lastly, if you feed the very same thing to a population/sample of dogs (or cats), over time, we know that select individual animals are going to respond in unexpected ways to foods that work nicely/are well tolerated by the majority – for example, dietary hyperthyroidism is something I would consider somewhat rare and not usually a risk for most dogs.

Finally, when considering thyroid health risks, another thing to consider is trauma to the neck from collars and other equipment –the use of certain collars have shown an association with damage to the thyroid gland (and trachea). It is best to avoid these types of collars, IMO:

Hope this helps!



UPDATE: Feb 2, 2016

Just to follow-up on the inquiries about the thyroid/glandular tissue on the trachea, gullet or GreenTripe products that include these ingredients. This is a question/concern (not a dog that actually had the condition but just an inquiry about the risk) that came up within our group a few years ago, actually and they get this question from time to time. I talked to them about it a few years ago, but I confirmed everything again with them today:

The USDA slaughterhouse they source their ingredients from is instructed to remove all glandular tissue before they get the product. In addition, GreenTripe does their own inspection of their ingredients, with removal of any extra tissue possibly attached to the trachea/gullet at processing or packaging. While the proximity of these tissues to these body parts may possibly allow for minute levels of contamination, these parts do not have any glandular tissue attached when sold or used in processing. Lastly, in all the years they have been selling these products they have not had a single incident of a dog that experienced a change in their regular panel laboratory tests/exam results related to the inclusion or exclusion of these foods and thyroid function/health.

I also got confirmation that the USDA inspected beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, etc. necks we sell are cleaned of all glandular tissue at processing. We do not source necks that would possibly have this tissue attached. But again, due to proximity of these parts to the glands, minute levels may possibly be consumed in this way. I cannot possibly imagine that it would be enough to cause diet induced hyperthyroidism from these specific foods/cuts — *maybe* possible in a dog with an existing sensitivity and if necks were being fed as the only source of RMB for an extended period of time and/or fed in excess.

Sourcing is key! For example, in one of the case studies that was pointed to in the report I posted earlier – this was a study with a sample of just TWO dogs, living in the same household, that were getting whole heads from a local slaughterhouse which caused the thyroid condition. Not USDA-inspected meat. I cannot find the sources for the meats in the other two small sample studies, but I do wonder if this was USDA inspected meat fit for human consumption or animal feed grade, or from animals butchered at a small local facility that slaughters/butchers animals for personal or CSA “direct-to-consumer” use only (not for retail sale/not USDA inspected). One of the studies referenced this condition being related to the regular feeding of dried gullet/trachea pet treats– these were not USDA inspected products. There is a difference.

Please understand that I do not find the small direct-to-consumer non-USDA slaughter/butcher/processor option necessarily problematic at all (this is how MOST high quality local producer-run CSA or “direct to consumer” operations manage their processing) but for this specific issue, there would be a possibility of getting the whole animal back with all parts attached after processing at one of these facilities, or for them to give someone free/cheap scraps for their dogs that would contain these tissues. Whereas this is simply not possible when a rancher/producer sends their animals to slaughter in a USDA facility and have the parts USDA inspected for human consumption/resale. This is tightly regulated by the USDA, and it is the reason why we can’t get some really cool parts we’d like to from our current suppliers. Many people don’t understand that the rancher has to buy back the meat from their own animals after processing from the USDA slaughterhouse. They simply can’t get back the whole animal broken down into all the tissues/parts 100%, even if they wanted to – they can only get USDA-inspected and permissible parts in return and many times they struggle to get even basic offal like liver, kidney, and hearts.

BUYER BEWARE Unfortunately, many commercial pet foods on the market can & do use meat that is not USDA inspected. I have seen a lot of them that claim ingredients from a “USDA facility” and this generally means the food and meat used has not actually been inspected & approved by the USDA (“USDA inspected”). This practice appears to have caused diet induced hyperthyroidism in at least once case cited on a blog (see link). The dog’s levels went back to normal after being 4x the norm when put back on a DIY home-prepared raw diet: This is only one of the many safety and quality issues I have with pet food ingredients that are not “fit for human consumption” and/or USDA inspected and approved.

SFRAW does not sell ANY products that would fall under this category with the exception of two pet food producers we have worked with for many years and trust completely:

1) GreenTripe (pet food sourced meats/cuts from USDA facility, under special USDA-orders, that we have confirmed are directed to remove this tissue & re-inspected by GreenTripe at processing)

2) Hare-Today whole prey and whole ground animals. The whole prey will include the whole animal with all glands/fur/feathers. I think these are great products and a wonderful option for those willing to feed this way. Over the years, I have feed my own animals a lot of these foods, in rotation with other foods (Remember: moderation and VARIETY is the best way to reduce risks of all sorts!)

As a CDFA licensed and inspected pet food manufacturer, and by our own code of ethics and standards, the SFRAW Grinds & Formulas use only 100% USDA inspected “human-grade” meats & parts with this tissue removed.

That being said, it will be interesting to learn how Michele’s Greyhound, Lexy, does after her change in diet and re-testing. I hope she reverts back to normal quickly. It would be very good news if it were a sensitivity this individual dog has that caused diet induced hyperthyroidism because it is completely reversible and her dog will be ok with a switch to wings, backs, etc. and removing any neck region foods from the diet (any commercial foods that may contain ingredients from the neck/head region or using meats that are not 100% “USDA-inspected”, Xkaliber, GreenTripe with Trachea & Gullet, Hare-Today whole animal grinds, whole trachea or gullets, dried trachea or gullet treats, and all neck bones or heads).

Hope this helps with those concerned or those that just enjoy learning more about this topic.





Photo credit: Michele Hangee-Bauer of “sweet as pie” Lexy on her sixth birthday!

UPDATE: Oct 28, 2016



After a trial of changes to her diet and retesting to evaluate her thyroid health, we last heard from Michele that Lexy was eventually diagnosed with hyperthyroidism after all.  Her veterinarian and family concluded that Lexy had been experiencing thyroiditis in Jan and that the necks, etc. in her diet were not the primary cause of her unusual laboratory findings. They are happy to report that they were given the OK to include more necks in her diet (her favorite) and she continues to feel and do great! We’re so happy to hear this news for Lexy and Michele! And, for others that were concerned, this conclusion removes a direct link/blame of her lab results on the feeding of necks and GreenTripe products and shows that she actually had an underlying thyroid disease (common in her breed) that is now being managed and treated.

Hope this helps those wondering about this topic to  make more informed choices when feeding a natural diet to their dogs!

RELATED QUESTION  Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ANSWER:  Hi Aaron,  This condition is INCREDIBLY rare! In fact, it is so rare, that I’ve only know of one single dog in the history of my raw feeding experience (since 1989) that experienced a related issue. Upon taking her off the neck bones and GreenTripe with Trachea & Gullet, her values did improve immediately. However, she then became hypothyroid, and it was determined that she was just a dog with a problematic thyroid disease. They determined that it was far more of an issue of her own body, than her diet or exposure to iodine or thyroid issues. Here is another great article about this topic:

All of the meats used in SFRAW Grinds & Formulas are 100% USDA licensed and inspected food that is 100% fit for human consumption, which means it is not at high risk for contamination with glandular tissue.

In addition, all of our raw meaty bones sold at SFRAW (not including GreenTripe or Hare-Today pet food products) are also 100% USDA licensed and inspected food for humans to eat, and have been cleaned of glandular tissue according to the USDA guidelines and the amount, if any, would be absolutely minuscule.

Our Chicken, Duck, Turkey and Rabbit Grind & Formulas include the entire whole bird or rabbit. When we can, we include the necks and heads and feet — these parts are not always available, but we try to get them, and include them, when we can because I think they provide additional nutritional benefits.

Our Lamb, Beef and Pork Formulas & Grinds do not include any heads or necks/neck tissue at all – below please find the ingredients used from the animal(s):

LAMB = Lamb Trim, Lamb Heart, Lamb Tongue, Lamb Breast Bones, Lamb Liver, Lamb Kidney.

PORK = Pork Bnls/Snls Leg, Pork Heart, Pork Tongue, Pork Liver, Pork Spleen, Pork Kidney, NOW Brand Bone Meal Powder.

BEEF = Beef Bottom Round, Beef Heart, Beef Tongue, Beef Liver, Beef Spleen, Beef Kidney, NOW Brand Bone Meal Powder.

The beef is the only one that could possibly include gullet and trachea (these parts are exclusive to beef/ungulates) — but they are not used/present in our ground foods.

If you buy our stuffed, dried or raw beef tracheas that we offer, you may be feeding some minuscule amount of glandular tissue. We think this is safe for 99.999% dogs.

BTW: the dog that experienced the hyper-t was eating a diet of kibble, and she was given turkey, duck and lamb neck bones for her RMBs, and fed GreenTripe Xkaliber or GreenTripe with Trachea & Gullet. As far as I know. she did not feed SFRAW Grinds or Formulas. She has since gone back to feeding some of the previous foods as her issue was resolved and has been managed with medication – see above for full details!

Hope this helps!

Sincerely and in good health to you and Daisy,



Written by sfraw

March 17, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Q & A, Uncategorized

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

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