After my recent Instagram/Facebook posts (see reposts at the very bottom of this page) about the risks of feeding a cooked diet and how to offset those risks, people have been asking for more specifics regarding meat marinades for pets when cooking meals. I also wanted to discuss the use of an apple cider vinegar marinades for raw feeders and a traditional type of marinade that I have used a lot when preparing liver for humans to eat: the milk soak.
Full details below! 😉 Happy marinading!
SFRAW Dog/Cat Meat Marinades & Milk Soaking
This is a technique that can be used when preparing meat to feed raw or prior to cooking your pet’s meals. Marinades will change the flavor of the meat/food, so be sure they like it prepared this way before making any sizeable portions. Test it out first on a single meal to see if they enjoy it and how their body responds. The ingredients of this marinade are safe for both dogs and cats. It doesn’t include high risk, toxic or problematic ingredients like vegetable oil, salt, sugar or onion, and provides the following benefits:
- helps to reduce the damaging, carcinogenic chemical compounds created in meat/animal fats (when heated above 300 degrees)
- makes meat/offal more easily digestible
- herbs contain potent polyphenols that are anti-bacterial against pathogenic species of bacteria such as e. coli
- these herbs are naturally protective against parasites, having an anti-parasitic action in the body
When feeding meat/bones RAW:
- an ACV marinade will provide additional pH and enzyme support that typically soothes symptoms related to GERD/acid reflux (cooking kills beneficial enzymes and changes the pH)
- ACV softens bones, making them easier to digest. Remember to never feed your animals cooked bones – only feed raw meaty bones!
The acid and enzymes in this marinade will begin to denature (“cook”) the proteins, which can improve digestion.
Soaking offal in raw milk is a traditional food preparation technique that’s especially good for marinating liver, spleen, sweetbreads/glands or kidney. For individuals that dislike the flavor, texture or have difficulty digesting these potent organs, a milk soak can really help with palatability and digestion. Milk soaking helps to remove impurities, softens flavor, and tenderizes the tissue. This technique improves the texture, digestibility and taste – especially for organ meats/offal. However, if you leave organs in a milk marinade for too long, it starts to “overcook”, creating an undesirable texture to most people. It’s perfectly safe to marinade over 90 minutes; indeed, some individuals actually prefer an overnight soak, but some find this longer period to make the organs less palatable.
Raw Dog/Cat Marinade Recipe
- 1 cup filtered water, bone broth or raw milk
- 1/4-1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (ACV) or cup freshly squeezed organic raw lemon juice (organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar is ideal, but lemon may be used as a substitute)
- 1 clove raw fresh garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs each of fresh thyme & oregano
- 1 (2-inch piece) spring of fresh rosemary
Combine ingredients and shake or mix well right before pouring over meat/organs or bones, which should be defrosted and arranged, single layer, in a shallow non-reactive dish, either glass or ceramic. Use just enough marinade to cover the ingredients. Cover the dish/bowl with a lid, plate or parchment/butcher paper if needed – ok to leave uncovered, too.
Soak the meat/organs or raw meaty bones in marinade for 30 to 90 minutes before cooking or feeding raw. Strain off the marinade & herbs before cooking/serving.
Use fresh marinade when preparing your pet’s meals. After use, discard used marinade liquid and herbs into your compost.
Additional spices and ingredient you can try including:
- Fresh minced raw ginger or turmeric instead of or in addition to the garlic
- Lightly heated, then ground or crushed coriander seeds, fennel seeds or cumin seeds
- Pinch of cinnamon
Sweet Marinade (option)
If your animals’ gut is healthy (no diarrhea problems), they don’t struggle with yeast overgrowth (skin or ear infections), arthritis or incontinence, you can add a tablespoon of raw unfiltered honey or fresh pineapple juice to the marinade for added benefits and flavor. The pineapple juice provides enzymes that aids in digestion. The honey provides antibacterial properties.
Below are my original Instagram/Facebook posts about feeding cooked diets:
For those of you that feed cooked meals to your pets, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Nutrients lost or damaged in cooked ingredients can range anywhere between 12-40%, depending on the nutrient. So, when feeding a cooked diet longer than 90 days, it’s important to adjust the recipes/menu to make up for those nutrients lost during cooking.
Ideally, you are slowly, actively working towards feeding a entirely raw diet (which is safer, easier to digest and more nutritious for dogs & cats) but, while you’re transitioning over, cooking the meals less & less, it’s critical to consider the temperature and time being cooked, too.
Temperature and cooking methods matter A LOT! Two types of carcinogens: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) develop when meat is cooked, especially above 300 degrees. This is one of the reasons why feeding kibble and canned foods is so dangerous and cancerous to our pets!
The higher the temperature and longer time meat is cooked, the higher the risk for exposure to carcinogens. Of course, home-prepared meals using fresh, well sourced, whole food ingredients are much healthier than any high/ultra-processed foods.
Pan-frying, deep-frying, broiling, grilling, barbecuing, and smoking create the highest levels of carcinogens.
Boiling, poaching, steaming, and stewing are safer methods.
Meat cooked for a longer time are also higher risk. Always cook as quickly as possible, at the lowest possible temperature.
TIP: Marinate the meat for 30-miniutes or longer, and, if your animals like eating veggies, feed cooked meat along with a side serving of antioxidant rich herbs or pureed/fermented green veggies to reduce cancer risk.
Marinating meat before cooking can have a big impact on reducing HCA formation (up to 67% lower!)
For your marinade, make a mixture of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice plus fresh chopped herbs and spices. Choose a selection of 2-4 fresh organic, chopped up herbs that your pet enjoys eating – especially basil, mint, savory, marjoram, oregano and thyme. Rosemary is another great option, just use sparingly. Concerns over rosemary being linked to seizures in dogs so far is unsubstantiated when using the actual herb but has been linked to a commonly used “natural” preservative made from rosemary. These herbs are rich in carnosic acid, carnosol and rosmarinic acid — all of which are potent antioxidants. They also happen to counter pathogenic bacterias in food and parasites, too! #herbsareawesome
Lastly, please remember to not feed cooked bone to your pets, “ever” ! There are actually a few, very specific methods under which feeding cooked bones could possibly be safe. To read about how to do this, please visit our blog sfraw.blog and search for “Are Cooked Bones Safe?” to read How to safely feed your dog or cat bones: Raw vs. Cooked.