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Our Dogs: Food Safety

retailers understand all the regulations they are currently being held to? Are your retailers storing foods properly? Are their dry foods and cans stored in cool, dry, pest-free locations? Are their raw foods stored in freezers at 0°F to inactivate any microbes? Safe handling practices require a vigilant approach to knowledge on the part of retailers and an ability to impart that knowledge to you. If you do encounter an adverse situation with your dog’s food, contact the manufacturer and take it back! All specialty pet supply stores should always take back the foods they carry if they are in or accompanied by the original packaging and within the expiration date range. Then, they should also assist you in contacting the manufacturer. You must remember that how your pet’s food is purchased, stored, handled, and how you report adverse effects makes a difference! It matters in your dog’s health and well-being. It is often the catalyst to help other dogs. It may even save a manufacturer its product and reputation. Here are some basic guidelines for the safe and healthy handling of pet foods by you and your family at home: Always wash your hands after handling anything your dog consumes. Never assume that any dog food is free from bacteria.

Always pick up and wash all dishes and utensils used by your dog immediately. Don’t forget to wash down preparation surfaces too. This will prevent bacterial spread. Don’t feed your dog in the kitchen. If you have a crate, that is the best place to feed your dog. Otherwise, try the laundry or mud room. It probably has a sink and room for a prep table. Have soap for hands and dishes available, as well as wash rags and towels. Keep kibbled food in the original bag. Healthy, natural dog food companies spend a lot of time and money to make a safe environment for their food. If you have a container, place the entire bag into it. If your dog doesn’t like the food or becomes ill and the food is suspect, you will need the bag for identification. Keeping the food in its original bag will prevent you from being tempted to mix the fresh food with the old food. If the old food goes rancid, so does your fresh food. Keep your dry food in a cool dry place. Heat will break down naturally preserved foods causing rancidity. Keep empty cans for a week to 10 days. Once again, if your fur-child doesn’t like the food or becomes ill and the food is suspect, you will need the can(s) for identification.

Store opened wet (canned) food in the refrigerator, either with a cover on the can or in a food grade storage container or bag. Do not reheat in the microwave. Instead, place in a sink of lukewarm water to warm up if necessary. If your fur-child turns his nose up at a familiar food, take his word for it. Return the food, with its original packaging to the store where it was purchased. If you suspect an adverse event, contact the manufacturer and the FDA. Always thaw fresh-frozen raw foods in the refrigerator. Clean up spills and leaks immediately. If you are in a hurry, place sealed food into a sink of cool water, never warm. Patties are great to have on hand for those times we forget to thaw those huge chubs. Never microwave fresh-frozen raw food. You defeat the purpose of feeding raw.

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The American Dog Magazine | Fall 2011    95  

Profile for The American Dog Magazine