Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 07 2011

Dear Mark: Vitamin K2, Washing Eggs, Tapioca Flour, Short Term Grain Feeding, and a Raw-Fed Pack

By Mark Sisson
103 Comments

I both love and hate the time change that just happened. Those first few days are magical. You wake up on Sunday at around 5:30, and you’re raring to go. Full of energy with a whole day ahead of you, plus an hour. It’s like time slows down and you’re ahead of schedule on everything. It’s always an hour before you thought it was, no matter what time it is. But then you get used to the time change, and you notice it’s getting dark out at like four in the afternoon. The afternoon ceases to feel like the afternoon. You get sleepy earlier, which is a good thing in some ways, but I also like to get in something outdoorsy later in the day. Maybe a hike, maybe some paddling. I can’t do that anymore.

All that said, the time may have changed, but Mondays stay the same: Dear Mark question and answer sessions. Today, I discuss the fate of vitamin K2 during dairy pasteurization, explain why I don’t wash my eggs, and give my thoughts on tapioca flour. Then, I field a very sad story from a reader in Argentina and try my best to assuage him. Finally, I discuss the potential costs of feeding a pack of large dogs the raw diet.

Does pasteurizing dairy destroy its Vitamin K2?

Suzie

While there’s no smoking gun of which I’m aware, it appears as if vitamin K2 is retained during pasteurization. See Chris Masterjohn’s definitive article on vitamin K2 (or “Activator X,” as Weston Price knew it) where he notes that everything he’s seen suggests that it is heat-stable. Price himself found that “Activator X” survived pasteurization. And according to Real Milk (a pro-raw, anti-pasteurization dairy site), this article sees “no evidence” that pasteurization affects “Activator X”  status.

If anyone has evidence to the contrary, I’d like to see it, though.

Dear Mark,

Is it safe to eat farm-fresh eggs without washing them? If they should be washed, what is the best method?

Steve L

If you trust the conditions of the farm, I don’t see a reason to wash the eggs. I don’t even always refrigerate the pastured eggs I get, let alone wash them. The farmers don’t wash them either.

Premature washing of an egg removes the “bloom,” the thin protective layer that prevents bacteria from entering the egg (which is actually slightly porous, believe it or not). Excessive handling can also remove or degrade the bloom, but most farm fresh eggs – in my experience – don’t undergo a lot of handling. Besides, if eggs didn’t come equipped with natural, protective shielding and instead required the loving hand of a farmer, some running water, and a dollop of bleach to survive until hatching, chickens never would have made it to 2011.

Washed eggs actually go bad quicker than unwashed eggs. Don’t wash your eggs.

I was wondering about tapioca flour. I have found it locally. It is gluten free. I was wondering if it could be used like coconut flour. Thanks.

Lisa

Tapioca flour is one of the “safe starches.” That is, it’s a toxin-free, antinutrient-less, dense source of carbohydrate. I wouldn’t exactly compare it to coconut flour, which is extremely high in fiber, low in digestible carbs, and really soaks up the liquid in a recipe. Tapioca flour can be treated more like potato or rice starch. It’s a classic carby flour, albeit one without gluten and other noted toxins.

For someone with good glucose control, tapioca is a decent source of carbs. If you’re looking to add carbohydrates, or your activity level warrants it, go ahead and try it out. Since tapioca comes from cassava, which is perhaps the most popular source of starch across the entire world, it’s not like it’s a dietary unknown. To venture into tapioca territory is to travel a well-beaten path. Just realize that anytime you turn something into flour, you massively increase the speed at which it breaks down into usable energy. High energy burners in need of a quick hit may find that to be a plus, while more sedentary individuals might react poorly to a quick infusion of glucose (especially if it’s not going to be utilized right away or sequestered into already swollen muscle glycogen stores). Your call based on your context.

Please help me get this straight: I asked my butcher and he told me the meat he sells comes from cows that are pastured their whole life and then are sent to feeding lots for the last 15 or 20 days before being butchered; he referred to this as “supplemented cows”. To me is quite clear this is “grain-finished” meat.

My questions are: Does this beef still counts as “grass-fed” or should I take it as plain and simple “grain-fed”? Do those last 20 days of eating corn nullify the previous 3 or 4 years of grazing? From a nutritional point of view, does this kind of grain-finishing cause the same result as ordinary grain-feeding (I mean, keeping the cow in a feed-lot for longer periods of time)?

I would REALLY appreciate some answers and/or any piece of information you could point me to in order to clarify this situation.

As always, thanks a lot!

Sincerely,

Juan (writing from Argentina, once known as the-land-of-grazing-cows! Well done, civilization!)

Juan, I feel your pain.

But don’t despair. I wasn’t able to find any data on the effects of 10-20 days of grain feeding on otherwise grass-fed cattle, but I did find a study that compared the nutritional content of beef raised three ways: grass-fed for life, grass-fed and grain-finished for the last 80 days, and grass-fed and grain-finished for the last 150-200 days. As you might expect, grass-fed for life contained the most omega-3 fatty acids and CLA, while feeding grain reduced omega-3 and CLA. No surprise there. Grain-finishing decreased omega-3 and CLA content. Also no surprise.

However, it wasn’t as if that first mouthful of corn and soy immediately removed omega-3, lowered CLA, and irrecoverably altered the nutrient density for the worse. The benefits of grass-feeding weren’t totally undone, and grain-feeding didn’t work like an on/off switch. Rather, it’s a spectrum. Cattle that were grain-fed for the last 80 days of their lives had more omega-3 and CLA than cattle that were grain-fed for 150-200 days. In other words, the longer you grain feed, the more you impact the nutritional content of the animal’s meat. That would leave me to believe that 10-20 days of grain feeding is probably enough time to negatively impact the nutritional makeup of the meat (and especially the omega-3/CLA content), but not enough time to undo all the good of grass feeding.

It’s also worth noting that one of the biggest problems with feeding cattle grain for life is that it usually requires the use of antibiotics. If you feed them a diet they aren’t genetically adapted to for long enough their health will suffer and drug intervention will become a necessity. Grass-finished cattle (the shorter the period the better) are less likely to need antibiotics.

So, 10-20 days appears to be on the low end of the spectrum. I’d say eat away.

And I was planning on visiting Argentina sometime, too. Dang. (Kidding; I still want to go!)

Hello,

I accidentally ran across your article about the raw diet for dogs. I am interested in it. However, with feeding 9 large dogs (wt 70lbs to 120lbs) will it be cheaper than what my pet food bill is now? I currently spend 450 a month on the dog food, with one of my dogs having a special diet because she is allergic to everything, and I do mean everything, except veggies (green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes) and fish. Also, do you know of any websites where I can buy organ meat? Thank you in advance.

Donna

I doubt it, but it really depends on your sources.

I’ll give an example. One of my Worker Bees has a 70 pound dog who eats all raw. He’s lucky, because he has access to a raw-feeding co-op which gets incredible deals from local small farms. All the meat is human-grade, pastured, grass-fed, and often organic, and it’s very affordable. His dog gets about one and a half pounds of food a day, mostly meat, bones, and various innards (liver, tripe, spleen, trachea, all sorts of cool stuff), supplemented with yogurt, fish, berries, shellfish, and sometimes vegetables. For convenience, he also buys preformed raw meat chubs of ground meat, bone, organ, and vegetable for $2/lb. He feeds his dog on $3 a day. And that’s grass-fed, high quality stuff. Very doable with one dog. With nine, though? That would get really expensive, really fast. Say all nine dogs are 70 pounds (which yours aren’t) eating $3 worth of food a day. At 28 days a month (allowing for a few days of intermittent fasting, which dogs are naturals at), that’s $756.

However, said Worker Bee lives in the SF Bay Area, where prices are generally higher than in other areas of the country. Things might be, and probably are different in your neck of the woods.

Here’s what I’d recommend: find a butcher or meat counter and get to know the people who work it. Tell them you need a steady supply of muscle meat, organs, and bones for your pets (many butchers will have experience preparing pet food for customers) and tell them your budget. Figure about a half pound of food for every 25 pounds of dog and go from there. Don’t worry too much about grass-fed this or pastured that; even conventional meat is better than kibble (especially considering the kibble makers use the cheapest “meat” possible in their products). There are online sites that sell organs and even pre-mixed raw dog food, but they run around $2 a pound at the least. At those prices, your monthly bills will run over $450, no question. I think you’ll end up paying more than $450 a month regardless, but I suspect you’ll save a ton on vet bills.

Join this Yahoo raw feeders’ group. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and it’s very active with a lot of helpful members wiling to give advice. There’s a good chance you find someone near you who can give more specific advice. Good luck!

That’s it for this week, folks. Keep sending the questions along, and chime in with any new ones related to today’s topics in the comment section. Thanks!

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103 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Vitamin K2, Washing Eggs, Tapioca Flour, Short Term Grain Feeding, and a Raw-Fed Pack”

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  1. Glad to hear that vitamin k2 is still present in pasteurized dairy. Cheese is the best source, right?

    We buy a huge slab of irish cheese from costco. It’s kerrygold brand so I imagine its 100% grass-fed. It’s pasteurized but, I do wonder, is this necessarily bad if you hardly eat any dairy?

    It seems like kerrygold pastuerized cheese is not harmful outside of the casein content if one is intolerant.

    My dog eats normal dog food but is happy and pretty healthy. He’s getting old at 8.5 years but should have a lot of years left. Gotta love them boston terriers!

    1. I feed my boston EVO and she’s in great shape at 5 1/2. One of the best dogs I’ve ever had. However she also eats horse manure, oats, rice bran, and farriers formula that drops out of the horses mouth (when she can get away with it.) Also she learned to steal eggs from the chickens last year (we’ve since foiled that, to her disgust), she likes a little hay or fresh grass now and then, the occasional bite of dirt,and her particular favorite – what I call almond roca – treats from the litter box. I agree – gotta love them boston terriers!

      1. Kitty Roca is really toxic to dogs. My schnauzer nearly died from eating it. Dogs love raw eggs and top breeders recommend one occasionally. I can understand his frustration with you blocking this treat. Since my dog has a 4 inch beard raw eggs are a bath day only treat.

        Worst dog day for me ever was freshly laid kitty poo eaten and regurgitated. I nearly regurgitated cleaning it up. The only thing worse to have on a carpet than cat shit is barfed up cat shit.

        1. Copraphilia – dogs eating manure of any kind – is usually regarded as a behavior problem. It’s not normal, generally. Please see your vet and consider some visits with a trainer.

        2. Try coming home from work to cat poo on the bed and barfed up cat poo on the couch. That was a bad day, for me and for the cat.

        1. EVO is a brand of dog food, made by Innova. It is grain free and high quality ingredients, but still made by processing and extruding the food…it seems to me to be a step towards raw feeding (my previous switched to it before I fed him raw).

    2. Cheese making typically involves heating the milk anyway, pasteurized or not so it’s a moot point.

      The biggest problem with commercial dog food isn’t the cheap meat and by-products, but the cheap grain fillers used. We successfully feed our dogs raw meat and cooked starches (white rice, white/sweet potatoes, taro), plus some egg, powdered eggshell and that seems to work very well. But if I could find a commercial dog food that was cheap meat, cheap animal fat, and rice or potato starch I would have no problem at all feeding them that. I’ve never heard of any problems arising from feeding dogs what experts agree is a high quality dog food, which means no grains, and no plant matter before the first named fat in the ingredient list.

  2. Very informative! 🙂

    I’ve been trying to get my sister to start feeding her dog a more primal diet… like a lot of humans he is getting pretty chunky on his current grain-based ones. Good to know there are affordable options!

  3. Whoah, hold the phone, whats the name of that raw-feeding co-op in the Bay Area?

      1. Wow, AND thats actually really close to my house! Thanks Im totally going to check this out 🙂

  4. Good questions!
    I have transitioned my cats off grains, but the picky little monsters will not eat raw. Thankfully, we have an excellent pet supply store nearby and they stock a grain-free kibble made with human grade meats. I read a study that cats on regular kibble lived 30 percent longer when fish oil was added to their food, so I fish oil their kibble. Since ditching grains, they have lost weight and become more active beasts. If I ever get any more cats, I will start the little buggers on a species appropriate raw diet.

    1. I have not been able to get my cats on a raw diet either. However when I switched to PB I found a grain free food for them that they love. My cats are brothers from the same litter and one was starting to get a bit husky but since the switch he has been maintaining at a healthy weight and his brother has put on a bit more lean mass.

    2. My pesky feline that i call trouble,loves it when i have canned salomon (salt free),when i open the tin,i pour the liquid in a bit of her food

    3. I switched my 17 year old cat to EVO kibble a couple of years ago. He won’t eat anything fish-oil — and believe me, I’ve tried lots of different oils — so I buy the fish-based mix. He also gets a lot of raw organ meat and muscle meat, and a bit of canned wet foot. I’m slowly moving him toward the raw and away from Fancy Feast. Bye Bye Purina.

    4. I used the same site Mark mentioned above to transition my dog. They also have lots of cat owners write in, and most everyone reports that cats are very hard to switch to raw from kibble – it just takes time. Might be a really good site to look at, and I think Yahoo also has a cats-only raw feeding site (although I don’t have a cat, do I don’t know). Good luck with it; even just switching off the grain-based food should help though.

  5. I feed my 65-lb dog raw food, unfortunately mostly grocery-store conventional chicken. I figure pastured animals > conventional animals > kibble. I’d like to move further toward the pastured end of that continuum, so I’m going to talk to my butcher next time I’m in to order a beef box about putting together a “doggie box” of the cheapest bone-in cuts and offal I can get. We’ll see what kind of a deal I can get if I offer to basically take ANYTHING they’re getting rid of, as long as it came from a grass-fed cow.

    1. What differences have you seen in your dog – are there any noticeable improvements in health from switching to raw food? I would imagine it would increase longevity, but I’m interested to hear more about short-term benefits of raw food for pups.

      1. I feed my 65 lb Belgian malinois/pitbull mix about 3/4 lb conventionally raised meat per day (mix of beef cuts/pork chops/chicken thighs, breasts, livers, gizzards, and hearts) in addition to about 16 oz of grain-free kibble. Changes we noticed when we started incorporating the meat were: smoother, shinier, softer coat; increased muscle mass and vascularity; increased attention span; no doggie breath or stinky wet dog smell at all ( I very rarely give him baths because there is no need to). He also has beautiful white teeth that I attribute to the meat. One thing I have not noticed that Mark mentions is smaller, more formed poops – still waiting for those :).

        Overall, feeding him meat costs the same for us as high-quality kibble, and I’d definitely recommend it.

        1. The grain free kibble is likely why you haven’t seen the small poops yet. When my dog stays out of the chicken pen and doesn’t eat the straw and chicken food (read fiber) his poops are small and compact and within hours start to turn white and start to decay away. It’s only when he supplements with fiber that I have larger “loads” to pick up.
          The other benefits are the same as for people, less inflammation and significant improvements in arthritis and hip dysplasia as well as reduction in joint pain and increased energy. I didn’t start my dog on raw until he was 11 but I noticed significant improvements in his mobility. I lost him at 12.5 but his quality of life in that last 1.5 years was worth it all. My new pup has been raw since we got him at 4 months (rescue).

      2. Been feeding our GSD raw since he was a puppy. When we picked him up from the breeder he was being fed kibble and had a protruding belly. After the swtich the Raw (mainly tripe, which smells awesome) and beef. his stomach swelling reduced. Also the #1 reason for some people to go raw is Dog poos become smaller, and less smelly.

      3. My 8.5 year old terrier has been overweight and always hungry pretty much his whole life (since he was neutered at 12 months). He also tended to have a bit of an odour problem and was developing arthritis in his legs and shoulders. Since I went primal in February and saw huge improvement in my arthritis and asthma, as well as dropping 40lb, I put him on a raw meat diet too. He has dropped about 1/5th of his bodyweight, is no longer stiff in the morning, doesn’t smell and does small dry poops which turn to chalk in 24 hours. Best of all, he no longer seems to be hungry all the time and is a much happier dog.

      4. All three of my dogs – a pit bull (8.5 years old), a lab/heeler mix (13 years old), and most recently, a cairn terrier (about 4 years old) – eat the Raw Meaty Bones diet, and have since August, 2008. I started the first two on RMB when my pit bull developed open sores on her skin caused by allergies to many kibble ingredients. (This was a long process of elimination to figure out that she had food allergies, and an eye-opening learning process of what is in “premium” dog foods.) I live in a very small, remote town with few services, and the two local vets are not supportive of this diet at all. I don’t care! My pit’s coat is beautiful – smooth and shiny and her sores are completely gone. Before this diet, my lab/heeler was already showing signs of hip pain and taking it easy when climbing stairs and playing. Now she runs and jumps like a 2 year old! My cairn terrier, a street mutt who wiggled his way into my heart about 2 years ago, thinks he’s died and gone to heaven.

        Make the switch! Give it 6 months. You’ll be surprised at the deals you can find on meat once you start talking about it and searching for it. A couple of local hunters keep me supplied with some venison, too, when in season. Benefits? Beautiful, shiny coats; white teeth; no more bad breath; no more dog odor; boundless energy; a longer, more vibrant, medication-free life; and happy dogs full of joy.

  6. “You get sleepy earlier, which is a good thing in some ways, but I also like to get in something outdoorsy later in the day. Maybe a hike, maybe some paddling. I can’t do that anymore.”

    Head lamp!!! Or a torch-bearer

  7. I’m a huge proponent of prey-model raw feeding for pets. With a little thought and ingenuity, you can really get your feed bill down. We spend under a buck a pound for dog food, with many sources cheap or free.
    Good sources may be: local meat processing plants, farmers, fish markets, ethnic markets, hunters, butchers, and craigslist (great source for finding hunters cleaning out last year’s freezer burnt elk).

    Raw for cats is sometimes tricky. Cats have an imprint period as kittens where they learn to recognize food items. Cats introduced to raw as adults may simply may not recognize it as “food”. It’s hit and miss though; I have one cat, a former research animal who lived in a lab and ate Science Diet his whole life, who dove right into chicken wings and raw sardines like a champ!

  8. When I tried going gluten-free at the beginning of the year, I fell victim to getting some of the pre-packaged gluten-free frankenfood substitutes. I wondered why they all made me sick and I didn’t feel any better being GF. Well, I had a gluten cross-reactivity panel done from Cyrex Labs. Besides dairy gluten-containing products, the thing I had the worst reaction to was…TAPIOCA! My body sees it as a gluten-containing substance, even though it isn’t. Crazy stuff. Since ditching grains altogether, including these frankenfood GF subs, I feel worlds better and it’s only been 3 weeks.

  9. Hmm, washing the eggs and worrying about bacteria… Never done it myself. Unless your food comes from overpopulated disgusting farms, there is no reason to fear bacteria.

    1. My hens crap on top of their eggs (probably there is a problem with the design of the coop)- I wash them if they are dirty.

      1. Let the poop dry and scrape it off. You can use sandpaper to get off the rest.

  10. I have been feeding my dog a raw diet for a couple years now and she loves it. She gets 1lb to 11/4lb a day. I mostly feed her chicken since I am lazy and just buy family packs for $.69/lb at the grocery store. Once a month I make a big batch of her “veggie” mix which includes whatever I have left over in the vegetable bin, usually sweet potato, carrot, spinach, squash, etc… I boil it until it can be mashed, then I drain and mix in a couple cans of salmon, mackerel, pack of chicken livers then freeze it in batches. I also give her some of what we eat. If we have lamb chops, she gets one, if we have a big halibut filet she gets a hunk, if I make eggs, I cook one or two for her. It’s really not that much work or that expensive since she’s eating what we already eat, plus she is in very good health, and looks great.

  11. I feed raw too! I have a 55 lb Deutsch Drahthaar that luckily works for much of her food.

    She gets all the geese I can kill, all varmints she can kill, and I take 1 deer per year just for her consumption. And of course I save the organs for her too (except I keep the venison heart for me, call me selfish.)

    But I do have to supplement her with chicken. I find chicken quarters to be the best. Plenty of skin and fat, about 30% bone content, and the rest meat. Depending on her activity level she gets either 1-2 whole quarters per day (roughly 1-2 lbs). I buy chicken quarters for $6/10 lbs. I add to that 1 whole chicken liver (about 1 oz).

    She’s never been leaner, more muscular or had a better coat.

    Those of you who don’t hunt, find a friend who does and ask them to save you the carcasses of their game. Most american hunters only keep the choice cuts and dispose of the rest. Our native american ancestors are disappointed.

  12. I’ve never even heard of or considered washing eggs, interesting! Why? When you don’t eat the shell anyways.

    1. ha ha!! we had the same thought, about eating the shell, at the same time!

    2. The eggs come out the same way chicken poop comes out- through the cloaca. They can have some “mud” on the shells. Chickens are not clean animals, either- the nesting boxes can get pretty dirty.
      When you crack eggs open, the germs can get into your food.

      Best bet: wash farm fresh eggs immediately before using. If you are making mayo or other raw dishes, use soap.

      1. We keep chooks, and usually they are pretty clean animals unless they’re sick. If there’s a continual problem with poo on the shells, the causes might be:
        1. chooks are sleeping in the nesting boxes – either the coop is overcrowded, or the nesting boxes are higher than the perches (chooks will roost high, as a pecking order thing). Chooks do a lot of poo at night.
        2. the coop is not particularly clean. Our chooks will always try to lay in a clean spot – if it’s been a little long between coop clean-outs then yeah, there can be poo on the egg. Not usually due to poo in the nesting box, though – often because they’ve stepped in some and transferred it.

  13. I don’t wash my eggs because I don’t eat the shell.
    I buy mine AND my dog’s food in the marked-down meat section. sometimes we have the same thing for dinner; his might be less cooked. The other night we both ate boneless chuck ribs & broccoli (his favorite veg!). I supplement with some grain-free kibble, and a mixture of salmon, cod liver, & avocado oil for his coat. He gets a raw meaty bone every day.

  14. Loved that article on Vitamin K2 by Chris Masterjohn. Now I know that not only are sprout-fed egg yolks delicious, they’re a potent source of ACTIVATOR X [/booming narrator voice]

  15. I feed my pack of dogs (4) and a cat raw. Unfortunately, until I am debt free they have to eat conventional meats…but I supplement them with pastured eggs and raw goats milk. They also get the meaty bones from grassfed sources, elk or beef.

    List of what I feed:
    eggs,chicken, hen, turkey (raw, whole carcass), pork (ribs), beef, beef and pork liver, tongue, cans of salmon for omega 3, sardines, pitbull loves fruit, apples, oranges, bananas and figs.
    During hunting season they get wild caught duck (whole carcass with head). And since they eat tons of bone they also benefit from the marrow.

    To feed 4 dogs raw (and 1 tiny cat)in the state of Idaho it costs about $10 a day on average, so $300 a month. My breeds are English Mastiff and large american Pitbulls…weighing around 90-200 lbs.

  16. Thanks for the additional reminder to get my pets on a raw diet! Currently my dog enjoys all my vegetable scraps, cauliflower rinds, ends of broccoli/asparagus, peels of eggplant, ends of carots (I throw her a few carrots while I’m cutting too)… she also enjoys all my bones of course, or tough fat that my husband doesnt like. My cats I’m a little more concerned since one of them gets crystals in his urnine that cause UTI’s.. a raw diet might be fine but I need to learn more too. I feel like I’m just getting the swing of all this cooking for my husband and I after 7 months of being primal… I have not been motivated enough to go full raw with at least my dog, SIGH! Need to get on that!

    1. Forgot to mention that I love the fact that when I give her scraps from our food I know that its all so healthy for her. It’s funny (or sad) other people that feed there animals scraps get fat and get diabetes..hmm.. does anyone notice a connection?????

      1. Why is it that the average american knows not to feed their animals grain (or at least that its not good for them) but somehow us humans its OK and even told as HEALTHY?

        1. because the connection is not as obvious in people as in dogs. people are obviously true omnivores, while dogs are just as obviously naturally carnivores.

    2. Nicole,

      Re: the cat’s UTIs

      I don’t know your full story, so sorry if this is off base.

      Cats are notorious for being picky drinkers and therefore having more concentrated urine than is ideal/healthy. Since buying my older guy a “cat fountain”, he has probably doubled his water intake.

      To keep the dogs out of it(and keep it clean longer), you’d have to put the fountain up where only the cat could get to it. Just a thought, maybe too much trouble without knowing if it would help with the UTI problem?

  17. I feed 5 labradors raw and have fed 15 and raised puppies on raw. It is cheaper if you do the work to source the food yourself and that is without factoring in what you save in vet bills.
    I did best by contacting abbatoirs directly. I bought 5gallon bucket of green tripe for $5. I usually got them to make me a mince with the heart and trachea which worked out about 60c a pound. They also sold beef marrow bones for $10 per milk crate which I usually ate and bought beef neck bones (softer) as treat for dogs.
    Ring around the nearest poultry processing plants for chicken backs, chickent carcasses and turkey necks and tails. This is a great time to buy turkey necks which are perfect balance of calcium to phosphorous (as is green tripe).
    The yahoo group is very good, there is one just for raw fed labs too.
    Good luck, its harder work but oh so worth it.

    1. What yahoo group? I would love to feed my dogs more this way, but everything I have found has been very expensive.

  18. Forgot to say I reckon I pay between $1 to $1.50 per dog per day in food and the lightest one is 80lbs

  19. I switched my cats to a raw diet nearly a year ago, there’s a nice family in Alberta here who make custom dog and cat food from human grade meats and veg. Mine eat roughly 3-4 ounces each of ground chicken carcasses, with beef organs mixed in. I throw a few frozen smelt into the mix every few days to keep their dandruff down (very dry climate here) which I buy from the local asian supermarket for pennies. I also give them chicken feet to chew on and keep their teeth in good shape.
    The food qualities so good, I’ve even snagged some of their treats for myself, things like whole rabbits (pelt and feet off, organs intact) and piglets (same deal). Nothing quite like freaking out my family while I scoop butter soft brains out of a piglet skull after roasting it over an open fire, they can keep their hotdogs.

  20. I’m very very happy to see you promoting a raw meaty bones and organs diet for dogs!

  21. The abandoned kitten we found last October has been fed raw the whole time we have had her. We used to go to the local Whole Foods and buy their “fish scraps” since it was the miss-matched cuts from trimming at $1.99/lb (We ate from it too actually, decent stuff!)

    Partner’s co-worker and our vet told us about a woman who sells raw pet food outside the Atlanta, GA area, so now we feed her raw ground rabbit mixed with chicken and rabbit organs, and she loves it! (We all call it rabbit crack, cats don’t act the same and after eating that stuff) Chickpea literally wakes me up EVERY day purring, biting my ear, nuzzling to convince me she needs breakfast anywhere between 4-6am. The one time I didn’t get up due to moving so I slept in, so she peed on me in bed!

    I think cats are harder to feed raw, our cat would only eat certain fish and she will starve herself if we give her chicken for more than a day and a half. I think she is spoiled beyond help at this point so we are stuck spending $130/month to feed her >.<

  22. I have an on-line friend in Argentina. She had never heard of feedlot cattle. When she looked into it, she was shocked that it was being practiced there. Sad indeed.

  23. Suggestion: Raw for dogs? Deer hunting season. My understanding that most hunters/processors are not using the “bits” maybe they would sell/give it to you inexpensively (seems like it would save them disposal costs)?

  24. My cat is a chronic vomiter and also has itchy skin/ears periodically. He’s been grain-free for about 2.5 years now, he gets (prepared, frozen) raw food at night and dry grain-free in the morning. He did drop a couple pounds after I changed his diet and he’s looking fairly svelt.

    But the last few days he’s started itching again, he’s been uninterested in the dry food, and he occasionally upchucks the bits of bone from the raw meal. I give him a bit of whatever we have for dinner on nights when I cook, but I don’t cook every night.

    Anybody have experience with this? I do think the season has something to do with it, but food rotation seems to help. Last night his dinner was the trimmings off our beef roast and today he’s been happier.

  25. After reading this thread I’ve decided in my next life I’m coming back as a dog with a Primal owner.

    1. the owner of the restaurant I worked in always says in his next life he’s coming back as my dog – he gets all the trimmings & scraps from tenderloins, ribeyes, duck, bison…

  26. Both my husband & I have BAAAAD reactions to tapioca flour. I suggest trying it on a day you don’t have to leave the house!

  27. My cat goes through phases of puking too… when I asked my vet about it he said they just do that sometimes. I agree that the season has something to do with it, usually when he is in a shedding cycle is when he is the most listless and off. It also happens if he knows we are going away somewhere; when the suitcase comes out his anxiety level goes up.

    I feed my cat a grain free diet… prepared frozen once a day and dry grain free to nibble on for the day. He is heavier than he was but not bigger…. more muscle mass…. and he is really shiny. It costs me about $60 every three months for dry food and $40-60 every three months for the raw. My vet told me they like a variety of things instead of the same thing every day so I alternate different animals or mix a couple of different kinds together.

  28. When Joel Salatin was on the Underground Wellness podcast about two years ago (Jan 28, 2010) he talked about grain feeding and claimed that “14 days of grain feeding pushes all the CLA out of the cows body.”

    I’m not sure of his source but thought I’d throw that out there. I also vaguely remember the guys from Wellness Meats being on a podcast (either Jimmy Moore or Underground Wellness) and talking about what grain feeding does. Don’t remember stats from that at all, but it’s out there.

  29. I’m sure my cat (died on Good Friday 2009, r.i.p…) would have lived longer if we hadn’t fed her that boxed cat food…don’t buy that processed whiskas rubbish or, for that matter, packaged dry dog food (I’m no authority on dogs but I’m sure the stuff is no better).

  30. N=1 feedback on tapioca flour.

    Mark is spot on. IF you are coming off a good 4 mile run or a strenous HIT workout or something have at it. Otherwise you will feel the old feeling you used to have after eating a sandwhich and chips.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Marc

  31. I don’t wash anything I eat, fruits vegetables etc.

    It would never occur to me to wash eggs.

  32. Keep in mind dogs are mostly scavengers, so they will eat raw easier than cats which are hunters. If you have ever had an outdoor cat that caught mice, moles and birds you will notice they eat the organs first while still warm and often leave the rest. When trying to switch a cat to a raw diet possibly starting with organ meats that have been warmed ever so gently (not cooked) may convince them to try. Just a thought.

  33. Dark yes, but get some really powerful lights for your bicycles! Midnight riding in the cold is utterly magical.

  34. I guess I’m just an another one in the crowd that has never considered washing eggs. If you’re cooking them, I wouldn’t think there would be a need.

  35. I feed my dog RAW. I use a local frozen patty product. The cost isn’t an issue because my dog is only 20 lbs. However, I started feeding RAW after my dog suffered for months with colitis. I tried every brand of food from Costco to the premium brands like Nöw. Within a day of switching to RAW, his colitis cleared up. Worth every penny IMHO.

  36. We have fed our dogs raw meat and bones for years now, and sometimes the changes are nothing short of miraculous. My parents got a rescue years ago who was filthy – dull, dingy, fried coat, brown teeth, horrid breath, very underweight and listless… a couple months on raw and she had a shiny coat, great muscle tone, and clean teeth. It didn’t look like the same dog. In my opinion the best benefit is having practically no vet bills (especially those teeth cleanings!!).

    I’ve been around or worked with dogs my whole life – show me a dog with a stink you can’t get rid of, or skin and coat problems, and I’ll bet my next three paychecks it’s the grains in his diet.

  37. I have two 8 year old dogs — a terrier and a peke-mix, and a one year old peke. I wish I had started raw sooner — now my terrier is missing about half of her teeth and eating raw, meaty bones is too difficult for her (she ends up swallowing a whole chicken leg.) I have been giving them marrow or rib bones every few days — the older mix finds them too much work, for the most part.

    I do a cooked stew of meats, broth, lard, veg and berries plus brewer’s yeast/seaweed/bone meal and vit C supplement, plus fresh ground flax seed. I usually throw in some organ meat and bones during the cooking. They get that evenings, with raw meat added (or sometimes cooked.) My husband likes to add grain-free kibble, I don’t. They also get dried liver, chicken, duck treats.

    I wish I could get them all on full time raw, but the peke is very resistant. I guess I’ll keep trying to work it in whenever possible.

  38. I don’t know where you live, You can also check out mypetcarnivor.com for raw food for your pets.

  39. When my cat was diagnosed with diabetes I decided (with research) to put him on what they call the “Catkins” diet. Just meat, no wheat or dry food. He reversed out of diabetes and his brother lost a few pounds too. Apparently cats are obligate carnivores no grains or veg required.

  40. Well, thank goodness someone else out there has noticed this. I have instant mouth irritation, as does a celiac friend of mine, from tapioca. She described it as peppery. And when I used it to mix a baking flour before I wnt grain-free, it puffed out of the bag and I ended up sneezing for 2 hours. That pretty much made it no mas for me.
    I did a little research, and it appears that tapioca is cross reactive w/ latex, to which I am allergic as well. My MD just rolled his eyes when I mentioned it, but I stuck to my guns. Thanks for the vindication.

  41. We feed a raw diet to 15 dogs (at most, we’ve had 18 on raw). With multiple dogs, investing in a good set up is your best bet. We have a deep freeze and fridge just for our dogs’ food. We called around to various processing plants (they won’t all work with the public) and found a chicken processor that will deliver to us…about 300lbs every two weeks.

    It’s actually cheaper for us to feed raw than to feed a grain free kibble. We pay more for the beef and non-chicken parts of their diet (ie, green tripe), but we get the chicken so inexpensively it all balances out and is still cheaper than kibble (plus healthier dogs!)

  42. I just dug up our last delivery receipt and we pay .76/lb for chicken leg quarters (the basis of our diet for our pack of all greyhounds). Offal (gizzards, hearts, livers) are .95/lb. (the prices do vary a little each week)

    Each dog gets about 1 lb of food/day with each dog being an average of 60lbs. That’s one or two leg quarters, plus some offal, tripe and/or eggs every day.

    We also get green tripe and a mix of beef/beef offal from a company that sells pet food mixes (blue ridge beef)…that’s more expensive and runs us about $1.25/lb and we split a 5lb tube amongst the dogs. Eggs we get for “free” from our own pastured flock of hens. Plus the dogs (and hens!) get SALOs (species appropriate leftovers) from our meals, kitchen trimmings, etc (I never have much to compost!).

    When it’s all said and done and I divide costs per dog, it comes out to be about $1/day/dog.

  43. Juan,

    Argentina has some of the best beef in the world. All cattle are fed some grain. Grass contains little calories so nearly all cattle need a bit of grain to be fattened.

    However, there is no comparison between Argentine beef and US CAFO fed beef. The Argentine beef is far superior.

  44. COULD YOU PLEASE GIVE A LINK TO THE WEBSITE FOR SF BAY AREA RAW DOG FOODS? I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO FIND IT THAT CHEAP AND VARIED YET. THANKS VERY MUCH!

  45. And I, too, feed my beautiful greyhound raw. She loves chicken quarters, pastured chicken livers, a bit of grass-finished beef and eggs. When I switched her over, at age 10 she started playing again and her coat and eyes got really glossy. She is now 13 and looking fabulous.

  46. I’ve been trying to convince my mom to at least buy grain-free kibble for her dog. He’s some type of Irish terrier, around 40 pounds or so, and he’s been throwing up all of his food (Pedigree or Kibbles N Bits stuff). She tried giving him just yogurt and chicken and he was fine, no puking. Then she mixed some rice into it and bam, puke. I’m like, see Mom!? Try the grain free food! Her roots run deep in CW though (she worries about my paleo eating habits/raw milk consumption) so she just bought some other food that didn’t have rice in it… had plenty of corn and potato though… :facepalm:

    BTW my two cats used to have itchy skin/open sores until I switched them to grain free food. I’d LOVE to get them on a raw diet but haven’t invested the effort or money yet. I’m getting some great ideas from this post and all the responses though 🙂

  47. So many replies to this thread but I just wanted to add that I am feeding my dog raw meat/bones/organs. I am also on a forum who got very experienced raw feeders and most of them live in the US. If you want more information send me a pm on this forum. My username is Pimzilla.
    Rawfed dogs are happy dogs 🙂

  48. I’ve fed multiple dogs (and now 2 cats) on a raw diet for over 12 years now. FWIW, chicken does not provide the best nutrients for dogs. I feed lots of green tripe, buffalo, turkey necks/carcasses/feet, grass-fed beef, offal, and deer/moose/elk. Whole eggs (shell included), an Omega 3 oil, Vit E round out the menu. I only sell my puppies to families that will do the same and so far, all the puppies I’ve raised over the last 10 years are in excellent health, with beautiful teeth. Even if the food is more conventionally raised, it will be better for your pets than kibble.

    All the suggestions for sourcing on your own are excellent and I employ them all! I also run a small raw-food co-op, with only 15 or so customers, but the handling fee that I charge to those customers nearly offsets the cost of food for my own crew.

  49. I have been feeding my dogs RAW for years. The best resource I’ve found is K9JOY.COM. I order “green tripe” from greentripe.com…it’s the best form of protien for your dog. I find the cost for raw is comparable to feeding a high quality Dog Food.

  50. I switched my first dog to raw about 1 year before his death – and he really enjoyed his food. When we got our new dog, he switched from whatever food he had been getting to the raw food – and now I am a goddess in his eyes, because I provide such delicious food!

    I add some frozen ground beef patties many mornings with fish oil capsules frozen in the middle – alternately I feed him frozen liver (liver is his one hang up – doesn’t do a thawed one due to texture) – and his fur is lovely, his breath and teeth are great, and he has unending energy (even for a GSP, which is saying something). Best of all, he is the right weight and absolutely gorgeous (even for a rescue).

    My mom’s dog is fed glorified cardboard (a prescription diet that has a meat-like substance as 8th ingredient on the list) and would love some of our dog’s food – I think she’s jealous whenever I feed him.
    But for those worrying about the teeth – even though many of her teeth are worn, she can still chew bones – so it’s just a matter of developing the jaw strength.

    But yes, I have seen tremendous improvement in both of the dogs I put on raw – and a definite joy in eating.

  51. We feed our rottweiler a raw diet! INCLUDING BONES! He is gorgeous, perfectly healthy, no bad breath, clean teeth, softest fur. We mostly give him raw poultry from a local farmer. Sometimes some raw milk/yogurt. Never, ever grains.

  52. There is some evidence that cassava/tapioca impacts thyroid function so anyone who has a family history of thyroid disease or hypothyroidism (like me) should steer clear of cassava.

    Mark – I wonder if a food that is known to impact metabolism should really be high on anyone’s list, family history or not. On the other hand folks in the Africa and South America have been eating it for centuries to millennia and some studies suggest that with adequate intake of iodine their bodies compensate for the plant’s anti-thyroid effects.

    Have you checked out those claims? Would love to hear what you think.

  53. Mark you referred to tapioca as one of the “safe starches”. Can you do a post on safe starches in general, such as rice, potatoes etc?

  54. I’ve tried getting my cats to transition to raw but one refuses to eat it. I have since started using a holistic vet and she has a cookbook that pet owners might be interested in. I’m just now trying it out! Prior to that they’ve been eating EVO or similar canned food.
    Dr Cathy Alinovi -Dinner Pawsible, visit Hoofstock.com. Missy

    1. I should mention that there are some non-paleo recipes in there but I haven’t used them. Just FYI.

  55. I recently started my dog (6 year old shih tsu mix) on a raw diet mixed with Blue Buffalo Wilderness (which is grain free.) Checkout Localharvest.org for some great prices on turkey and chicken raw food diet by a company called Paw Naturaw. She is loving this food and fortunately she is small enough that I can get by with feeding her 4 medallions per day. You can also get beef for animals on US Wellness Meats, but you have to mix it with fruits and/or veggies to make it more balanced. I did this, mixed it with blueberries and red and green peppers I had on hand and my dog ADORED it! i made little meatballs, froze them, and defrosted a few a day for her. Raw is definitely the way to go.

  56. Just a thought, I recently watched a documentary, I think it might have been Farmageddon, but I’m not sure, but anyway, they said that since cows don’t naturally eat corn, they have to gradually feed it to them in ever increasing rations, so for 10-20 days, they might not be eating an all grain or even mostly grain mix yet.

  57. Yikes, Mark — I highly recommend you refrigerate your eggs. Consumer Reports found out that eggs left out at room temp. started showing signs of deterioration as quickly as within 2 hours, with the yolk flattening and the egg white thinning.

    To the person who never washes anything, like not even produce. You don’t know who’s been handling that produce before you — it could be a homeless person with no access to bathrooms or toilet paper. Or a snot-nosed kid who’s shedding polio viruses after their vaccination. Eww!

    1. eggs in american supermarkets are already washed, so the protective cuticle is removed. yes, they should be refrigerated for longer shelf-life.

      if you’re buying eggs direct form a farm they can be kept at room temp. scrape off any bits or wash just before using.

  58. British eggs are sold unwashed and still orange. They are stored on a cool shelf and not in the fridge. We’ll often find the odd feather or bit of ‘dirt’ on them. It means the farmers need to keep their chickens in clean enough conditions that the eggs stay pretty much clean looking, so supermarkets will continue to buy eggs from them. We don’t bother washing our eggs at all in the uk, just take them out the pack and cook them, making sure to wash your hands after. It means nature can do it’s job and we’re not messing it up by interfering with it, & our eggs last for ages. We can use eggs far past their sell by date as long as we check they don’t float first. For us, if they float in water it means the shell has become too permiable and air & bacteria are getting in, so it would be gone off.