Questions to Ask Before Choosing Your Pet Food

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pet foodWith all of the pet food recalls that have occurred over the last few years, it has never been more important to be an informed pet parent, especially when it comes to the nutrition that you provide to your dog or cat. It’s also important to bear in mind that there are a lot of pet food companies vying for your attention and your money, so they’ll do and say whatever is necessary to get you to choose their products over the competition. And they’re also businesses that are out for profit so, even though they may claim to really care about your pets, remember that they still have costs to cut and profits to make.

How can you be sure you’re buying a high quality pet food? Asking the right questions will guide you in the right direction. Start by looking on a company’s website for the answers to the following inquiries. If you can’t find the information there, don’t hesitate to contact the company directly by phone or email. If they aren’t willing to answer your questions, it’s certainly a red flag to pay attention to and you may want to look elsewhere.

Where are the Ingredients Sourced From?

From poultry and seafood, to fruits, vegetables, and supplements, it’s important to ask a pet food manufacturer where they’re getting their ingredients from, and you want to steer clear of those companies that source cheap ingredients from China, which has been associated with using toxic ingredients in pet food and treats that have been linked to sick and dead animals. Asking where the ingredients come from, whether they’ve been inspected and approved by the USDA, and where they’re actually processed into your pet’s food, are a few of the key questions that will let you know how much a company cares, and how much it’s willing to spend on its ingredients.

What Quality Control Measures are in Place?

In addition to knowing where the ingredients come from, it’s also important to trust the facility that processes and packages the food. Therefore, asking a manufacturer about the quality control measures they have in place to assure pet owners that the food they’re purchasing is free of contaminants is another key question in determining what food is worth your money.

Look for a company that keeps raw ingredients away from cooked ingredients in order to prevent cross-contamination. And make sure they test each batch to be sure there aren’t any allergens, molds, bacteria, and other pathogens in the food before it’s shipped for sale. A good company will test food throughout the manufacturing process as well as at the end, and will hold food until they’ve gotten test results stating that the food is safe to consume before letting it leave the facility.

Other Questions You Can Ask to Make the Right Choice

Feel free to ask any other questions that come to mind, such as if the cans used by a company are BPA-free. Before purchasing a food, check the ingredients and guaranteed analysis on the label to ensure it’s appropriately balanced for your pet and doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or cheap fillers. And always inspect the food yourself before giving it to your pet. If it looks or smells strange, don’t feed it to your dog or cat. Instead, write down all of the information on the package, including the lot number and best by date, and contact the manufacturer with a photo of what you found to get some answers.