How can I be sure that my pet’s food is safe?

Far too often these days, I hear about pet food being recalled by its manufacturer. Sometimes it is because of contaminants in the food or the packaging. The latest, an East Coast recall from a U.S. pet food producer — Diamond Pet Foods — is for a salmonella outbreak linked to dry foods from its South Carolina plant.

How can we be sure that our dogs (and cats and other pets) are eating food that is not only healthful and nutritious but safe?

Debate rages about what a dog’s diet should contain. Raw or cooked? Homemade or packaged? Is kibble ever OK? One blog is too short to wade into that debate; all I will say is that every dog is an individual and every family’s needs are different. Consider how much time, effort, and money you are prepared to invest in feeding your pets; do your research; and choose the best options for your family and your pets.

However, if you (like most pet owners) choose to go the commercial food routs, there are ways to choose better quality and safer foods. While the latest recall belies the opinion that U.S.-made foods are safe, I still prefer food manufactured here over foods from, say, China. But that is only a tiny first step.

Pet-advice websites abound, many with advice on choosing a quality food; one example is the Dog Food Advisor. And, an excellent source of information and evaluations is the Whole Dog Journal. Each year, WDJ publishes a comprehensive review of dry and canned dog foods. They interview the manufacturers, trace the sources of the ingredients, and evaluate dozens of foods. To see their results, you must either subscribe or purchase the issue with the results — the dry food list is usually in the February issue. (I do not see that as a drawback; the magazine is high-quality and informative, year-round.)

When choosing my dogs’ food, I look for identifiable, quality sources of protein, and minimal fillers and potential allergens, such as corn. I choose foods that are produced by small companies that do not sell in supermarkets and pet super-stores, hoping that smaller firms keep a closer eye on quality. I supplement with fish oil, glucosamine, and lots of home-cooked additions. But each dog’s needs are different; I do not recommend specific brands since there is not a single best choice for all dogs, and I believe that a variety of high-quality foods is the best approach to balanced eating — for ourselves and our dogs.

The blog Mindful Leadership features a three-part post on choosing pet food. Check it out! Be sure to read all three posts.

One thought on “How can I be sure that my pet’s food is safe?

  1. […] completely grain-free is the quality of the ingredients and the relative proportions. As I wrote in “Ask the Thinking Dog” last spring, choosing a safe, healthful dog food can be challenging. I look for U.S.-sourced, […]


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