Approach your dog’s food the same way you would for a baby, toddler, mother, grandmother, member of your family, and yourself.
Make Sure It’s Fresh
- Meat: Should not smell funny or feel slimy, sticky, or tacky.
- Vegetables: Should not feel slimy, have mold or fuzz
Make Sure It’s COLD
- Remember: Bacteria doubles every 20 minutes when it’s between 40-140 degrees.
- The most common sources of foodborne illnesses are from salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter to name a few. If you defrost in the danger zone (stated above), bacteria can grow. Therefore, the safest way to defrost is in the refrigerator. This means you have to start the defrost process approximately 24 to 12 hours in advance of the meal. Alternatively, if it’s rock-hard frozen, you can place it on the counter for 90 to 120 min until it softens (like when you are having dinner) and then move it to the refrigerator after you’ve washed and put away all the dishes.
- Keep raw meat separate from your other food.
Make Sure It’s FROZEN
- DIY. If you are purchasing meat from your local grocery/farmers’ markets, you need to move it to the freezer the same day you purchased it. If you need to separate it into smaller portions, you can do so before you move it to the freezer.
- COMMERCIAL DELIVERY. Do not let your dog’s meat defrost. Unpack it and freeze it as soon as it arrives. If it looks like it had defrosted during transit, take a photo and send it to your the company you bought your food from.
- COMMERCIAL FOOD FROM PET STORES. Same concept as above. Freeze it as soon as you get it home.
Food In The Fridge
- Always check your dog’s food to make sure it does not spoil or get subject to cross-contamination. Food should not smell funny or be slimy, sticky, or tacky.
When In Doubt, Throw It Out
- Always go with your gut. If you think your dog’s food has gone bad, throw it out.
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Keep Things Separate and Clean
- Maintain a kitchen sponge that you replace every week to two weeks just for cleaning raw meat chopping boards, their bowls, and other appliances like grinders.
- Wooden chopping boards should be used when slicing raw meat. Scrub them down with soap and hot water after use. Ideally, you have a wooden chopping board dedicated to raw meat only.
- If you’re doing any large batches, it helps to use a huge tub such as this one: Heavy Duty Plastic Restaurant Tub
- Disinfect countertops and sinks after handling raw meat.
- Wash your hands well after handling raw meat with hot soapy water.
A clean kitchen is easier to maintain than having to deal with the ramifications of a dirty one or one where cross-contamination occurs. It puts your family and pets at risk should bacteria develop.
Treat your dog’s food like you would your own is a step in the right direction.
Hannah Zulueta obtained her Certificate in Canine Nutrition from CASI Institute. She is also studying for her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.
She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.