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Tips on Choosing the Right Food for your Pet

A cat and dog eat from their food bowlsSelecting the proper diet for your pet can help ensure a happy, healthy life for your dog or cat. But did you know that your companion’s health and well being can be tarnished by improper handling and storage once you bring the pet food home? Even the most stringent manufacturing requirements can be diminished by improper care at home.

Southern States, a leading pet food manufacturer and retailer of our brand dog and cat foods, offers the following tips for selecting and caring for your pet's food.

Manufacturing

According to Richard Sellers, vice president of feed control and nutrition for the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), good manufacturing practices (GMP) are synonymous with good business practices. Current GMP regulation places an emphasis on good housekeeping, predetermined systematic procedures, effective controls and records providing a meaningful history of operation.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), an international program designed to ensure safety of all food and feed products, is suspected to be mandated in the near future. (Southern States is taking a leadership role in conforming to these new standards and all of our pet food manufacturing facilities are certified under HACCP.)

"We want you to have full confidence in choosing us as your pet food manufacturer. HACCP certification gives you the reassurance that the food products you buy from us are safe and healthy for your pets," said Rich Schneider, feed marketing manager, Southern States.

Pet Food Safety Tips

  1. Brand/Guarantee: Buy a known brand from a reputable manufacturer who stands by their pet food with a money back guarantee.
  2. Ensure the diet is right for your pet: All pet foods are required to have an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement displayed in the Ingredient and Analysis section. Pet foods are designed to provide all the nutrition required to maintain your pet for life stage indicated in the AAFCO statement. There are several nutrient profiles – including products for puppies, performance, adult/maintenance, dogs, and of course one for growth and reproduction.
  3. Snacks and treats: Snacks and treats are a reward, not a substitute for a complete and balanced meal plan. Used in excess, they may unbalance a pet's diet.
  4. Kitchen hazards: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are many products found in the kitchen that may be harmful or potentially deadly to dogs and cats. Among the most common are: coffee grounds, chocolate, fatty foods, alcohol, grapes/raisins, onions, tea, salt, garlic and garbage.
  5. Packaging and storage: Don't buy food stored outside or purchase a broken bag. Check the sell by/manufacturing date and only purchase a month's supply. Store food in an air-tight container, away from heat and moisture.

Ensure the diet meets the requirement of your pet!

All pet foods are required to have an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement displayed in the Ingredient and Analysis section of the bag. Pet foods can be formulated to meet a nutrient profile or have passed a feeding trial, and are designed to provide all the nutrition required to maintain your pet for life stage indicated in the AAFCO statement. There are several nutrient profiles – including products for puppies, performance, adult/maintenance, dogs and of course one for growth and reproduction.

Snacks and treats

While pets who look at you with those soulful eyes can be irresistible when it comes to begging for a treat, snacks and treats are generally not designed to provide your pet with complete and balanced nutrition. Snacks and treats should be fed in conjunction with a complete and balanced diet. While an occasional treat is fine, snacks, treats and table scraps used in excess may unbalance a pet's diet.

Packaging and storage

When selecting a product off the shelves, make sure the bag is intact and secure: not torn, broken, dirty or damaged. All pet food should have a code date or provide a best if used by date – ask your local retailer to explain the date code if you have any questions.

Once you have brought the product home, store the food in a dry, tightly sealed glass, metal or rigid plastic container. Improper storage increases the risk of loss palatability and nutritional value. Do not store the food near stoves, hot water pipes or heating ducts as heat and moisture can cause food to lose its quality more rapidly. Be on the alert for insect infestation, which can occur in any home. Discard the pet food if it is moldy or smells different than when you first brought it home, or if it becomes infested.

Money back guarantees

Look for pet food manufacturers who stand by their pet food with a money back guarantee.

Kitchen hazards

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the following foods could be harmful or potentially deadly to dogs and cats:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Chocolate
  • Yeast dough
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Fatty foods
  • Avocado
  • Grapes/raisins
  • Onions
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Chewing gum, candy and breath fresheners containing xylitol
  • Garbage - rotting foods contain molds or bacteria that could produce food poisoning

Southern States is committed to leading the way in providing quality and nutritious foods for your family dogs and cats. We encourage you to ask your local store associates about our pet foods and which one may be right for your dog or cat.

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