Choosing the Best Food For Your Pets: Pitfalls and Dangers To Consider

Pet FoodIt is extremely important to provide your dog with proper nutrition in order to ensure that its body grows healthy and strong. However, feeding your dog carries hidden dangers that can cause illness and even fatality to your beloved canine.

The majority of the general public is often unaware that dozens of recalls on pet food are issued by companies each year – including 33 recalls in 2013 alone. This is in part because consumers report issues to the FDA in order to prevent other pet owners from harming their pets by serving contaminated or poor-quality food.

Of course, it is great to know that pet owners are watching out for each other, but it is concerning that the safety of pet food brands cannot be trusted. In order to make sure that your pet is protected from any dangerous contaminants found in pet food – and that you can report a case to the FDA and other institutions should your pet get sick – make sure that you take the following precautions. The Humane Society recommends that you stay abreast of any FDA updates about recalled or withdrawn foods, checking frequently to see if brands that you use have been reported.

Knowing Your Risks: What Kinds of Contamination Could Be in My Dog’s Food?

Pet food safety issues can be diverse, ranging from microbial hazards, to physical hazards, to imbalanced nutrition – but all of them can lead to injury or death for your pet.

Physical hazards can sometimes be avoided through inspection. For example, some owners have found chunks of glass, metal, plastic, or wood shavings in their dog’s food and prevented their dog from harm. However, sometimes these particles are far too small, or embedded deep within a treat or dog food bite, to be visually perceived by the naked eye.

Microbial hazards are often the most concerning contamination issue: salmonella bacteria can act quickly to make your pet extremely sick in a short amount of time. Other toxins found in food include high levels of animal drugs, even in foods that are labeled as “nonmedicated.”

Keep Safe: Being Aware of Contaminants that Will Harm You As Well As Your Pet

Did you know that some of the microbial hazards that have been found in contaminated pet food could harm you as well? Whether these microbes are airborne or transferred from your hands or handling your pet, you might be susceptible sickness.

A good general practice, whether you are concerned about contamination or not, is to wash your hands after each time you handle your pet’s food – which reduces some of the risk of becoming sick. Keep your dog’s pet food clean as well with soap and hot water. Furthermore, use a clean scoop to measure and pour your pet’s food each time, instead of scooping out food with your hands or your dog’s bowl. These tips will help to prevent cross-contamination and further reduce the risk of illness.

Selecting Pet Food Products that You Trust

Choose a brand of food that is not generic, and that has high nutritional content and quality ingredients. Your brand should be backed by a certification that it is a safe and healthy product, such as the AAFCO certification. Another great tip is to avoid any damaged packaging – whether a bent can or a punctured bag – when purchasing pet food, even if the price reduction is especially attractive. Discoloration can signify that a bag has not been kept in ideal conditions, which could lead to an increase in toxicity of bacterias or other contaminants.

Advocate for Your Pet: Staying Informed, and Reporting an Incident

If you are concerned about the quality of your pet’s food, or would like to know more about the safety protocols followed by the manufacturer, research your dog’s pet food brand online or call the manufacturer directly. Look for information about where ingredients are imported from, what additives are mixed into the food, and how often audits and safety checks are performed.

Keep a record of which pet foods you purchase and when, and take photographs of barcodes in order to properly document the food that you buy should an incident occur. When you are deeply concerned about your pet’s reaction to a pet food product, do not hesitate to contact the FDA and file a report.

This is a guest post by Lilly Sheperd, a freelance writer, blogger and pet lover.