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Posted on 08-18-2015

Finding the right food for your pet can be overwhelming. You see stories on the news and internet about pet food recalls, grain free diets, dry food, can food, raw diets, and pre-packaged diets. Where do you begin?

First, talk to your veterinarian to make sure your pet doesn't have a health issue that would require certain food restrictions. Examples: Bladder stones, gastrointestinal issues, food allergies, kidney disease, etc. These issues may require a specialized diet as part of the medical treatment.

Next, look at the pet food company. How long have they been in business? Will they be around next week, next month, or next year if you have questions or issues? Where do they get their ingredients? Larger companies that have been around for years are more likely to have real food scientists, animal nutritionists, and the backing of veterinary professionals. Many pet food brands are made by the same company. Example 1: Purina Cat/Dog Chow, Beneful, Purina One, Purina Beyond, Pro Plan. Example 2: Diamond, 4 Health, Taste of the Wild, Nutra Gold, Premium Edge, Diamond Naturals.

Next, does the food have balanced nutrition and is it appropriate for your pets current life stage? Puppies/kittens require more fat and calories than adult or senior pets. Adult dogs/cats may need either a higher protein food for active pets or a lower fat/calorie food for less active pets. Senior dogs/cats may need added glucosamine and may not be able to handle the high protein levels found in some grain free diets.

Next, look at the ingredients. They are listed in order with the first ingredients making up the highest percentage of the food. Look for a food that has a meat listed first. Avoid foods with artificial colors, meat by products, and artificial preservatives. Avoid most semi moist foods because they contain high levels of sugars. 

Now that you know what to look for make sure you are storing it properly. Food that is not stored properly or raw/not properly prepared can contain pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, or E Coli. They can also contain mold toxins such as aflotoxin or vomitoxin. Take these steps to help ensure that you and your pet are safe. Don't purchase more than can be eaten in 3 to 4 weeks. Store the food in an airtight container. Keep the bag for recall information - barcode, expiration date, and batch code. Rotate stock and check expiration dates prior to opening the bag or can. Do not pour new food on top of old food. Opened cans/pouches of food should be promptly refrigerated and disposed of after 5 days. Dry food should not be left in the food bowl for more that 24 hours. (Ideally you should be meal feeding and food left over after 15 minutes should be put back up till the next meal time) Can/pouch food should not be left in the bowl for more than 30 minutes.If you want to save money by buying a large bag of food, freeze half of it in a zip lock freezer bag until you are ready to use it. 

If you still aren't sure what food is right for your pet, call us or ask one of our knowledgeable staff at your pets next appointment. Stay on top of pet food recalls by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or go to the FDA website.

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