Handling dog food is simple!
All you have to do is buy what your dog likes, store it at home, and serve as you see fit.
However, there are so many mistakes that fly under the radar between those three steps.
And, most dog pawrents don’t even notice them.
In this article, I’ll list these common mistakes in 4 easy-to-recall categories so you can avoid them when Shopping for your dog’s food, Storing dog food, Serving your dog’s meals, and of course, Saving Earth from damage.
1. Grabbing the First Bag of Dog Food On the Shelf.
There’s no rule that says you must buy the first bag of dog food you grab or that you can’t reach inside the shelf to choose.
You should make it a habit to reach inside the shelf whenever you are shopping for anything with an expiry date.
That’s because shelf stackers are directed to place the new stock behind the old ones.
“Why?” you ask.
The answer is simple.
By placing the new stock behind the old ones, shoppers will pick the old stock before the new stock.
This helps them sell off dog food and other items before they expire.
So, reach in. Choose dog food with an expiry date that is more than 9 months away.
For instance, it is FEB 2021 and you want to get dog food. Choose one that the expiry date is from NOV 2021 upwards. If you’re buying bulk, then go for FEB 2022 up!
This way you are not playing catchup with the date and force-feeding your precious fur baby about-to-expire dog food.
2. Not Looking for Food Endorsed by AAFCO.
Want to ensure that you are feeding your dog a high-quality meal every single time?
Study the label on the bag.
I mean, how else would you know if you’re buying a counterfeit if you just throw it in the shopping cart without taking a close look at the label?
While reading the label, ensure that the dog food you choose meets the standard set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
AAFCO is an association that regulates the sale and distribution of animal feed and drugs. They have a very strict standard that helps keep unhealthy food out of the market.
You can go one step further and check the FDA recall list to find out if the dog food has been recalled for safety concerns.
3. Buying Giant Bags of Food for a Small or Medium Dog.
“30% discount”, “Save $x”, “Bigger is better!”, etc.
Don’t fall for these.
I know that you can save some greens when buying large vs small quantities.
However, you’ll really enjoy the benefit of bulk purchases with non-perishable goods.
If you have several large dogs that eat a lot, then by all means go for the biggest discounted bag of dog food.
Large dogs will quickly consume giant bags of dog food long before it gets stale.
But for small- or medium-sized dogs, you need to purchase dog food that is large enough to last three to five weeks, no more.
That’s because dog food contains fat. When you buy a large bag for a small- or medium-sized dog it takes them longer to finish it.
And, the longer the food stays in the bag, the more it oxidizes.
This makes the fat rancid, and of course, you know dogs have a stronger sense of smell, so they’ll turn up their nose at the bag of food.
Even if they do eat it, they’ll likely suffer digestive problems and now you have to visit the vet.
4. Falling for the Newest Marketing Gimmick.
I’m guilty of this too!
I’ve fallen for the healthier ‘grain-free diets’, the ‘human-grade’ dog food, the ‘holistic ingredients’, et all. And, you probably have done so too!
That’s because we want the very best for our furriends.
So, yeah. We will keep falling for some of these aggressively marketed gimmicks.
However, what I’ve learned is that by simply taking a step back to ask yourself, “Is there scientific proof for this claim?”
Because most of them are simply empty promises or words with neither legal definition nor guarantees.
Heck, most companies exploit this vulnerability (the strong feeling we have for our pets) to promote things they know that we’d only look at once and assume that they’ll be great for our pets.
Starting today, stop and research before buying!
5. Feeding a ‘home-made’ brand.
Look, I know that when most people hear ‘homemade’ they imagine that the person behind the product is as diligent as they themselves would be.
That is not always true!
Compared to the large commercial dog food companies, home-made pet food producers do not have veterinarians, nutritionists, and researchers to formulate meals that are properly balanced for all dogs.
Neither do they have the data, the quality control, or performed the tests that these companies run on their formulas to ensure safety.
I’m not saying ‘home-made’ brands are bad – far from it!
What I’m saying is that many are not well-researched and may not possess the same consistency commercial brands can pull off year after year.
6. Dumping the food into another container.
Scooping dog food out of a bag seems tedious, so what’s the easiest solution?
Turn it into an ‘airtight’ dog food storage container.
The problem with this method is that lots of these containers aren’t made with food-safe plastics (that is, materials that do not degrade when they come in contact with fat).
And, since dog food has high-fat content it can cause BPA and other plasticizers to leach out of the container into the dog food.
The bags that the dog food came in are specially manufactured to prevent this.
If, however, you think storing dog food in airtight containers helps preserve the flavor, then I suggest you store the food plus the bag in an airtight container.
This will help you get the best of both as well as avoid the next mistake.
7. “Topping off” dog food. 😒
This mistake is pretty common if you’re already storing dog food in an airtight container.
Most owners notice that they are running out of dog food, so they go out, get a new batch, and top off the container with the new batch.
The problem here is that you don’t get to wash the container.
The leftover builds up inside the container because you keep adding but you never bottom out. This quickly contaminates the new batch and creates digestive problems out of nowhere.
8. Not sealing dog food properly.
Leaving dog food in the pack that it came in is great only if you seal it properly.
Simply rolling the bag does very little to restrict airflow or food-seeking pests from getting into the bag.
A loose roll is as bad as not rolling it. You have to clip it!
While clips are not leakproof by any means, but hey, it’s better than just rolling the bag.
If you’re in a hurry you can push air out of the bag of food, roll it, clip, and throw it in an airtight container. These 4 steps should take approximately…
2 hours 2 minutes or less!
9. Storing food in a warm or humid place
If you adhere to tip #3 about buying only what your dog can consume in 3-4 weeks or less, you likely won’t run into the problem of storage space.
While it might seem easier and space-saving to store the large bag of dog food in the garage, back porch, or any other environment with fluctuating temperature and humidity, know that these can affect food’s quality and freshness.
The label says to store food in a cool, dry place for a reason – and, that’s to preserve freshness and prevent nutrient loss.
10. Throwing out the bag before your dog has finished all the food.
Most times, the effect of what we are consuming doesn’t show up until days or weeks later.
If your dog falls ill, your vet will want to know what you’ve been feeding the dog.
This is another reason why you should keep the bag of dog food because then you can easily get the type of food, date, batch number, manufacture and expiry date, and other critical information that your vet needs.
With these details the manufacturer and the FDA can tie the food to the problem, that’s if it causes a serious illness or death.
Without these, it’s tough to prove that the food made your dog sick and even tougher to get the company to take responsibility for the problem.
So, yeah! You should keep it and also take a clear photo of the bag.
11. Leaving food out for too long.
One of the most common serving mistakes a lot of dog pawrents make is free-feeding their dog.
Why is this a mistake?
That’s because your dog is either hungry or he’s not. There’s no problem with that.
The problem is leaving the food out for too long (i.e. till whenever he feels hungry). Canned food has a couple of hours before they start going bad.
And, while dry food takes longer to lose freshness, the bacteria from the environment quickly multiply on it the longer the food is exposed to air.
Besides, by leaving food out for your dog to eat anytime he feels like, you’re training him to continue with the behavior.
How many half-eaten meals will you throw out before the realization hits that you’re wasting money and something needs to change?
If your dog doesn’t feel like eating, take the food away and preserve it.
Do this for some time and he’ll learn that if he doesn’t eat NOW, the food will be taken away.
12. Serving your dog in a dirty bowl.
Your dog’s food bowl doesn’t have to be messy or smelly for it to be dirty.
“But… I wash it every week!”
Not bad, how often do you wash your plates?
👂… I’m listening.
The FDA recommends washing pet food bowls and utensils after every use to prevent the buildup of infectious microorganisms such as Salmonella or Listeria.
If that seems like too much work, wash the food bowl after the last meal for the day and let it dry before using it the next morning.
13. Giving your dog too many treats.
Compared to their small sizes, many dog treats tend to pack a high amount of calories.
Treats can contribute to weight gain in dogs, especially dogs whose owners are very generous with treats and table scraps.
To avoid this, you must ensure that treats make up only 10% of your dog’s diet. That’s because treats are a huge source of calories, but they are not balanced dog food.
Plus, feeding your dog too many treats will affect their appetite for regular dog food and can lead to wastage.
If your dog struggles to finish his meals, especially after training (too many treats maybe), consider switching to treat-free dog training.
14. Self-cooked dog food.
Cooking your dog’s meals at home is a great idea if you consult with an expert first.
That’s because the nutrients required by a dog’s body system vary according to its age or stage of development.
A recipe that works for puppies might not be so great for adult or senior dogs and vice versa.
And, that’s what commercial dog food formula excels at – providing the micro and macronutrients your dog’s body requires.
If you’re cutting down or eliminating commercial dog food, then you need to talk to a veterinary nutritionist to confirm that you’re feeding your dog a complete and balanced meal every day.
15. Allowing little kids to handle pet food.
Little kids are known for a lot of things except clean hands.
Getting your kids to help you with doggy care is fantastic at teaching them about responsibility. However, when it comes to feeding the dog, it’s best if someone older handles this.
Not only do they risk contaminating your dog’s meal or themselves by not handling the food properly, but your dog might snatch the food from their little hands and potentially hurt them.
16. Leaving food within the dog’s reach.
Most dogs are on a seafood diet – they see food, they eat!
So, be sure to keep your dog’s food bag out of reach or make sure the container is pet-proof. The reason is that dogs, especially young dogs will search for and knock bags or bins over then feast on the food when left unsupervised.
This can cause ‘food bloat’, a condition where the stomach expands so big it disrupts blood supply to the stomach, intestines, and other organs.
‘Save Earth’ Mistakes!
17. Wasting food.
According to the USDA, about 30-40% of the food produced is wasted each year. That’s roughly 1.3 billion pounds of food worth $161 billion.
That’s a huge amount of waste which then needs to be recycled and processed or it’ll just pollute the environment. Irrespective of how you look at it, these things take a toll on earth and even though the damage might not be immediate, it is happening.
So, when next you’re feeding your dog, don’t serve more than required. Else the rest of the slobber-kibble mix will go to waste.
18. Throwing out food your dog won’t eat.
Don’t do it!
If your dog won’t eat a particular meal anymore, it is upsetting his stomach, or irritating his skin, don’t just throw it out.
Donate the food to a shelter. There are a thousand and one dogs that would gladly eat it without any issue.
P.S. This only applies to food that is still fresh, NEVER donate expired or about-to-expire food to an animal shelter.
There you have it, the 18 food mistakes that most dog pawrents are guilty of.
These are everyday mistakes that, in most cases, seem pretty harmless.
However, over time they can hurt your finances, shorten your dog’s lifespan, rob you of quality time with your pet – time you now have to spend worrying about your pet’s health or conveying them from the vet’s office to your home and vice versa.
They can hurt the only planet we have.
So, next time you are handling dog food, ask yourself “am I shopping right?”, “is this the proper way to store”, “is this a serving mistake?”, and “am I saving or hurting the environment?”
Before you go.
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share with other dog Pawrents so they too can avoid these mistakes!