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Fanatic About Food Safety

fanatic about food

We hear about food safety for ourselves on a regular basis. Cook this food to this temperature, throw away that food after a certain period of time and so on. But what about our pet's food? September is National Food Safety Education Month, and Westgate Pet Clinic has several suggestions to keep in mind as you prepare your furry friend's daily meals.

 
Things to look for in a dry or wet food for your pet include natural preservatives, including Vitamins C and E, or preservative free; human-grade ingredients; and made in the United States. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) makes sure all ingredients used in pet foods are safe and have an appropriate function in the food. They recommend purchasing products in good condition without signs of damage to the packaging such as dents or tears.
 
Keep your pet's food and water bowls clean. Pets have bacterial microbes in their mouths just as we do, microbes that can be transferred to food and water dishes. A little food left in the dish makes a good environment for bacteria to grow, potentially causing illness for your pet and any (small) human who may play with the dishes. It's recommended to wash the food bowl between meals each day and the water bowl every other day.
 
Store your pet's food safely. If you serve a moist food, refrigerate it promptly or throw away any unused, leftover pet food. Leftover dry food and treats should be stored in a cool, dry place -- under 80 degrees -- in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid. Always keep the top of the bag folded close and wash and dry the pet food storage container before refilling with new food.
 
Always wash your hands before and after handling and preparing your pet's food. Though we've always been told to do this for our human food, the same goes with our pets. Bacteria and microorganisms such as salmonella can be spread from us to our pets, especially by accident. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling her food, including treats and feeding dishes.
 
Avoid feeding your pet a raw food diet. While many believe raw food is good for pets as it allows them to return to their primal roots, these food items can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter. These bacteria can be transferred between pets and humans alike. Raw diets include meat, poultry, milk and eggs that have not been cooked or treated to remove illness-causing germs.
 
When shopping for pet foods, here is a list of ingredients to avoid:
  • PG (Propylene Glycol) -- A chemical derivative of antifreeze, PG is commonly found in faux-meat dog treats that resemble bacon or sausage and some dog foods with a moist or crumbly texture. It is banned for use in feline products.
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) -- These chemical fat preservatives are known carcinogens and have been banned in pet and human foods in Australia, Japan, Romania and Sweden, but are allowed in the United States.
  • Ethoxyquin -- A chemical preservative, ethoxyquin can enter your pet's food or treat as in protein "meals." It is illegal to use in human foods, as data reports state it is harmful when swallowed or has direct contact with skin, but is still allowed in pet food.
  • Food dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE) -- These color named dyes have been known to contribute to hypersensitivity reactions, behavioral problems and cancer in humans. 4-MIE is known as a carcinogen in animals.
  • Rendered fat -- Though it provides a flavor enhancement for dry foods, rendered fat is a source of microorganisms and toxins that can flourish if moisture enters the bag.
  • Corn and wheat gluten


Food safety goes beyond keeping refrigerated only items cool at all times. And though there are a multitude of pet foods and options on the market, we can help you wade through everything and set up a diet for your pet that meets her dietary needs safely and sufficiently and that your furry friend will find tasty and satisfying. Check out our online store for a complete line of food options that we offer, including specialty diets. We even make it easy to get food to your home with FREE SHIPPING! Contact us at (612) 925-1121 with any questions about food safety or setting up a personalized diet for your pet. 


Image credit: humonia/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Copyright © 2018 by Uhlig LLC. All rights reserved 

Only the Lonely

only the lonely

Does your dog chew, scratch, whine or bark when left alone? Or does your cat urinate in your bed or meow loudly? While more common in dogs than cats, you may be tempted to conclude your pet has separation anxiety. It's important to properly evaluate the behavior to avoid a misdiagnosis and delay in proper training or treatment to correct the issue as many of the behaviors and cues associated with separation anxiety can also be attributed to other medical or behavioral concerns.

 
Separation anxiety behaviors are very focused, occurring only when the pet is separated from her human. In dogs, they also seem frantic in nature and your pup may even show a disregard for personal safety, continuing even through injury to herself such as broken nails, scratches or cuts. A dog with true separation anxiety will focus her destructive behavior on windows or doors, or on attempting to get back to her human, such as escaping from a kennel. Or a dog with separation anxiety may exhibit her stress by eliminating in the house or through excessive vocalization such as barking, whining or howling. However, it is important to determine if the behavior is the result of an outside stimulus, such as cars driving by or the mailman knocking on the door or if it is truly the result of a mild separation distress or a true separation anxiety. At Westgate Pet Clinic, we’re here to help!
 
Often, separation anxiety in cats can manifest as loud vocalization or improper elimination, such as urinating in your bed or in your laundry. While you may be tempted to scold your cat, it's important to understand the situation from his point of view. As long as you've brought him in and we've ruled out any medical concerns such as a urinary tract infection, your cat is trying to help you find your way home by doing the feline equivalent of leaving a breadcrumb trail. Cats may also be over-enthusiastic in their greeting when a pet parent returns, head butting or being continuously underfoot. Another way cats exhibit separation anxiety is by hiding out. While a pet parent may interpret this as normal aloof cat behavior, it is the cat's way of dealing with being stressed. Often, cats are fine with short separations, such as when you need to be at work, but exhibit anxious behaviors if left alone for longer periods, such as a family vacation, so you may not be aware of your cat's need for reassurance that you will return until after that first big trip. In either species, a true separation anxiety will mean that the only thing that will stop the behavior is the return of the pet parent.
 
When dealing with behavior issues that could be attributed to separation anxiety or another factor, it is important to determine the root cause of the issue. Improperly diagnosing your pet as having separation anxiety can mean inappropriately addressing the behavior and increasing the frustration level for both you and your beloved pet while failing to resolve the behavioral issues. By the same token, misinterpreting your pet's separation anxiety behaviors for other behavioral issues could lead to the sad conclusion that your pet is not a good fit in your home and family and result in her surrender to another family or shelter, increasing her potential for developing true separation anxiety. The suspicion that your pet may have separation anxiety makes it important to consult with us at Westgate Pet Clinic to verify the concern and set up a program to appropriately address the situation. Just as with many issues our pets face, there are a variety of options for treatment and alleviation of symptoms, such as behavior modification therapies, pheromone diffusers (Adaptil or Feliway, depending on your pet’s species) and other prescription options that are available in our clinic or through our online store. The main thing would be to ensure your furry friend is getting the treatment that is right for her level of separation anxiety and that it alleviates both her symptoms and the frustration you both naturally experience due to the situation.
 
If your pet is exhibiting signs of true separation anxiety, we urge you to make an appointment by calling (612) 925-1121 to discuss the issue and create a plan to ease her distress. It will take time and patience, but both you and your four-legged friend will be happier when she is able to tolerate being left alone.
 
Copyright © 2018 by Uhlig LLC. All rights reserved 

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