Exploring the Pandemic Pet Food Supply Chain Challenges

Have you noticed empty shelves in your grocer’s pet food aisle? Are you having a hard time finding your pet’s food, even from online retailers? Discover the reasons behind these shortages and learn why independent pet stores offer a reliable solution to your pet food supply concerns.

The Covid-19 Supply Chain Ripple

Some pet food brands, including Nestle Purina, Royal Canin, FreshPet, and even prescription diets, continue to see delays and shortages amidst the pandemic.

fully stocked pet food

Shelves remain fully stocked at NorthPoint Pets despite supply shortages at large retailers.

These shortages have occurred everywhere from big box stores to vet offices. Inclement weather, ingredient sourcing delays, labor shortages, and importation delays due to COVID safety measures have all contributed to empty shelves. Some formulas have been modified or discontinued altogether due to sourcing challenges.  Additionally, the sky-rocketing adoption rates have raised demand for pet food. Together these factors complete this equation for out-of-stock products.  

Advantages of Small Independent Retailers

Unlike supermarkets and big box stores, independent pet stores have weathered the COVID storm with fully stocked shelves and a greater selection throughout. Small retailers have closer relationships with a variety of distributors. Consequently, they have greater access to more products if one distributor runs out. Plus, indie pet staff can provide up-to-date information – meaning they’re more likely to have the answers to your questions and solutions for your concerns regarding your pet’s diet.  If you’re concerned about your pet’s food supply, stop in to your local small pet retailer for honest, appropriate recommendations and accurate information. 

To read more about this ongoing dilemma, click here

Don’t despair if you’re worried about your pet’s food supply. Independent pet stores offer a reliable solution with fully stocked shelves and a wide selection of products. Visit your local small pet retailer for honest recommendations, appropriate solutions, and accurate information.




Everything You Need to Know About Aflatoxin and Your Pet’s Food

Recalls due to aflatoxin contamination have resulted in the retrieval of hundreds of thousands of pounds of pet food. Tragically, these recalls have caused the loss of hundreds, and possibly thousands, of beloved pets. You might be wondering why such recalls continue to occur. The truth is that preventable measures can be implemented to avoid recalls associated with contaminants like aflatoxin.

When pets fall ill or pass away, it can be incredibly frustrating for pet parents and those involved in the pet industry. Aflatoxicosis is the term used to describe illness caused by aflatoxin. Diagnosing it can be challenging as the associated symptoms are considered ‘non-specific.’ In other words, they are vague and can overlap with those of various other diseases and conditions. As a pet owner, what essential information should you be aware of?

Let’s dive into the fundamentals:

What are Aflatoxins?

Aflatoxins, produced by fungi such as Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, belong to a group of toxins that can be found on various agricultural crops including corn, rice, wheat, oats, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts, among others. These toxins are particularly prevalent in warm and humid regions of the world and are permitted in both human and pet food at very low levels. However, the risk and level of contamination increase under specific temperature and moisture conditions.

Four types of aflatoxins, namely B1, B2, G1, and G2, have the potential to contaminate food. Among them, aflatoxin B1 is the most concerning due to its hepatotoxic nature, meaning it is toxic to the liver and can cause severe illness and even death in pets. Aflatoxicosis, often resulting from cumulative exposure to contaminated pet food, can worsen over time. Consequently, contaminated products may remain in circulation for weeks or even months before the source is identified, leading to a recall announcement.

Previous incidents in 2005 and 2012 witnessed multiple recalls of aflatoxin-contaminated pet food, resulting in numerous pets falling critically ill or losing their lives after consuming these products. More recently, Sunshine Mills in 2020 and Midwestern Pet Foods in 2021 faced extensive recalls due to the presence of deadly aflatoxin contamination.

What signs should I look for in my pet?

If you suspect your pet has consumed pet food contaminated with aflatoxin there are several signs you should watch for. Be sure to alert your veterinarian and seek medical attention for your pet should any of these signs develop.

Common Clinical Signs with Aflatoxicosis:

  • Lethargy (sluggishness, tiredness, lack of excitement)
  • Food Aversion or Anorexia (not wanting to eat)
  • Vomiting, or vomiting blood
  • Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the eyes, gums, or skin)
  • Diarrhea or Melena (dark bloody stool, sometimes looks like coffee grounds)

Detecting Aflatoxicosis: Veterinary Tests and Symptom Recognition

Your veterinarian or emergency clinic will conduct various tests to assess the health of your pet. In many cases, liver function tests, which are part of a comprehensive blood chemistry panel, can provide valuable clues for detecting aflatoxicosis. Elevated liver values, such as ALT (alanine transaminase) and AST (aspartate transaminase), are often observed in the test results. Additionally, increased total bilirubin concentrations and prolonged prothrombin time (PPT) may also be indicative of aflatoxicosis.

Pet owners frequently notice changes in their pets’ behavior, food intake, or energy levels around the time these symptoms begin to manifest. It is crucial to inform your veterinarian about any such changes as they can provide essential insights. Even small details can contribute to a better understanding of the overall picture. It’s important to note that unlike humans, pets consume the same diet consistently, which results in faster toxin accumulation in their systems. Consequently, their bodies may have limited time and capacity for detoxification in such situations.

Mitigating Aflatoxin Contamination in Pet Food

Corn is widely recognized as a major contributor to aflatoxin contamination in pet food, making grain-free pet foods increasingly popular in recent years. However, it’s important to note that aflatoxin contamination is not limited to corn and remains a potential risk regardless of the type of pet food or its ingredients. To mitigate this risk, pet food manufacturers should diligently test all ingredients and final products for aflatoxin and other contaminants. Unfortunately, some manufacturers neglect this crucial step, leading to the presence of contaminated products in the market.

As a responsible pet owner, you can take action by contacting your pet food company or inquiring at the store where you purchase your pets’ food to ensure that the manufacturer implements adequate safety checks. Although safety checks are not currently mandated by law, contamination with aflatoxin would necessitate a product recall. Therefore, it is in the best interest of any pet food manufacturer to prioritize implementing rigorous safety measures.

Factors Influencing Pet Susceptibility to Aflatoxicosis

Remember that every pet, as well as every person, is unique, leading to various factors that can impact a pet’s susceptibility to aflatoxicosis and other conditions. These factors include genetics, age, hormonal status, nutritional status, exercise, and other underlying illnesses, all of which can influence the severity of aflatoxicosis. In essence, even if pets consume the same food, their reactions may differ.

Taking Action When Suspecting a Pet Food Recall

If you are feeding a currently recalled food, or if you suspect your pet may be exhibiting signs of aflatoxicosis:

  • Contact your veterinarian immediately
  • Save any remaining pet food you have
  • Save pet food packaging and take pictures to document date and lot codes
  • Bring the packaging and pet food to your veterinarian who can help you file a complaint with the FDA and send samples out for laboratory testing if needed

If you want to know more about the types of questions you should ask your pet food company you can click here.

About the Authors:

Morgan Hunt

Meet Morgan,  a Veterinary Assistant/Technician at Branford Veterinary Hospital and a Pet Problem Solver at NorthPoint Pets & Company! She is a Certified Veterinary Technician. Her interests in the animal world are mainly behavior & nutrition.  She has a Pit Mix named Tyson and a Dalmatian named Pongo who keep her on her toes learning more and more every day.

Nicole Cammack

Nicole is the founder & owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.




Tips to Boost Your Cat’s Water Intake

As a cat owner, you want to ensure that your feline companion stays hydrated and healthy. However, some cats can be quite picky when it comes to their water options, leading to reduced water intake. In this blog post, we’ll share some valuable tips to help increase your cat’s water consumption. From strategic bowl placement to choosing the right materials and incorporating running fountains, these suggestions will not only optimize your cat’s hydration but also improve their overall well-being.

Strategic Bowl Placement

choosing pet bowl for cat

Our expert team can help you choose the best bowl for your cat.

Cats generally prefer to have their water bowl away from their food bowl. Placing the water bowl on the opposite side of the room or in a separate area can encourage cats to drink more. By separating their food and water sources, you address their instinctual behavior and promote higher water intake. Try experimenting with different locations to find the one that suits your cat’s preferences best.

Offer Multiple Water Bowls

In addition to strategic placement, providing multiple water bowls throughout your home can further entice your cat to drink. This approach ensures that water is easily accessible regardless of which area your cat prefers to spend time in. It’s also helpful for households with multiple cats, as each feline can have their own designated water bowl. Consider placing bowls in various rooms or levels of your home to make it convenient for your cat to find water wherever they roam.

Choose the Right Bowl

The type of bowl you use can significantly impact your cat’s willingness to drink. Cats can experience whisker fatigue when their whiskers touch the sides of their bowl, leading to aversion to both food and water. By selecting wide and shallow bowls, you eliminate this discomfort and create a more inviting drinking experience for your cat.

Consider Running Water Fountains

You’ve likely seen adorable videos of cats drinking from kitchen and bathroom faucets. Many cats prefer running water, and a water fountain can mimic the appeal of a flowing stream. Running water fountains attract cats and encourage them to drink more. The continuous circulation helps maintain freshness and provides a sensory experience that entices even the pickiest of cats. Additionally, the sound and movement of the water can create an interactive and engaging environment for your cat, making hydration more enjoyable.

Expert Tip: Don’t be discouraged if your cat doesn’t drink from the fountain right away. Like most new things, your cat needs to adapt to the new fountain over time. It’s normal for a cat to take 4-6 weeks to begin using the new fountain. If you do not have success after 6 weeks, try moving the fountain to a different area of the house. 

Maintain Clean Bowls and Fountains

Tiny dust and dirt particles floating in stagnant water will deter a cat from drinking from it. Additionally, water bowls will start to grow bacteria in less than 24 hrs, so it’s imperative to take proper precautions for cleanliness and safety. Wash your cat’s bowls with hot soapy water at least once a day. Water fountains should be disassembled at least once every 7-10 days so that all parts can be cleaned thoroughly. Be sure to replace the filter every 4-6 weeks, or more often depending on your water quality. Fill with fresh, clean water. We recommend using room temperature water because cat’s don’t generally prefer cold water.

Feed a Moisture-Rich Diet

Cats naturally have a remarkably low thirst drive and have adapted over centuries to thrive in dry environments. Additionally, cats’ tongues are incredibly inefficient for drinking water because they cannot scoop the water into their mouth. For these reasons, their bodies have evolved to absorb moisture through food sources. Therefore, it’s imperative to offer your cat a diet high in moisture. Canned wet food or premade raw food options offer optimal nutrition with high moisture and minimal carbohydrates. Since most feline ailments result from dehydration, a high moisture diet sets your cat up for whole body health and longevity.


Ensuring your cat’s proper hydration is crucial for their overall health and well-being. By implementing these tips, you can help your feline friend stay hydrated and prevent potential health issues associated with inadequate water intake. Remember to strategically place water bowls away from food, offer multiple water sources, choose suitable bowl materials, and consider investing in a running water fountain. Additionally, don’t forget to change the water daily and keep the food and water dishes clean to maintain optimal freshness. By following these guidelines, you’ll promote a healthy and happy lifestyle for your beloved cat.

Recalled Pet Food: Aflatoxin

Must Read: Aflatoxin Pet Food Recalls

The recall of SportMix dog and cat foods may impact you even if you’re not feeding the food being recalled.


The FDA released an update which indicated the recall has expanded internationally. Further, based on the number of reported deaths and illnesses as of this date this is likely the largest documented aflatoxin recall within the pet industry.


The FDA released an update on the original recall announcement adding over 1,000 lots of pet food manufactured by Midwestern pet. Affected foods were made in their Oklahoma facility. More than seventy deaths have been reported with an additional 80+ pets ill.

This recall indicates there are some clear quality control issues within Midwestern Pet’s manufacturing operations. As foreshadowed in the original article below, it likely meant that they were not inbound testing their ingredients for safety and adequacy. Midwestern was likely not outbound testing their final product for safety and nutritional adequacy either. The recall expansion supports this and we can expect the number of reports of ill pets to increase, as well as further expansion of this recall.



Recently a recall of SportMix dog and cat foods due to ‘potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin’ was announced by the FDA & Midwestern Pet Foods. SportMix is manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods who also makes well-known brands Earthborn, ProPac, Venture, Wholesomes, CanineX and most recently their ancient grain food Unrefined. The first FDA update indicated 28 dogs reported dead, and at least 8 more ill, with 70+ ill and 80+ dead as of the second announcement. It’s likely the FDA announcements will result in more reported cases.

If you are feeding SportMix, you can check the most recent FDA announcement for lot and date codes to see if your food has been recalled. If your pet is ill, be sure to contact your veterinarian right away. You can learn more about filing a Pet Food Complaint with the FDA here: Report A Complaint.

The recall was prompted when the Missouri Department of Agriculture tested multiple SportMix products which contained very high levels of aflatoxin. Currently, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the FDA are investigating the incident to determine how and why the foods contained such high levels of aflatoxin.


What Is Aflatoxin?

Aflatoxin is produced by a mold Aspergillus flavus. Aflatoxin is dangerous at high levels, although low levels exist in common foods we and pets eat. These foods include nuts and grains (including ancient grains!) such as peanuts, and corn. In pet food, the most common culprit is corn, however numerous recalls have been announced over the years for a variety of human and pet products.

The FDA states that pets are more at risk of aflatoxin poisoning because they do not eat a varied diet like humans do. In other words, the cumulative effect of eating food with already high levels of aflatoxin makes the situation worse.


What symptoms should I look for?

The FDA States:

Pets with aflatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage), and/or diarrhea. In some cases, this toxicity can cause long-term liver issues and/or death. Some pets suffer liver damage without showing any symptoms. Pet owners whose pets have been eating the recalled products should contact their veterinarians, especially if they are showing signs of illness.


Why this recall should concern you:

Aflatoxin at dangerously high levels in pet food is preventable from a manufacturing standpoint. If a manufacturer is testing their inbound ingredients and outbound testing their final product, dangerously high levels of aflatoxin should never make it to the marketplace. The fact that it has been found in 9 different lots of pet food is concerning and raises several questions:

  • Was Midwestern inbound testing their raw ingredients to ensure that they were safe? In this case, it is likely that the ingredient containing the aflatoxin was corn.
    • Note: The past year there were agricultural reports indicating high levels of aflatoxin in some crops, meaning that if Midwestern was purchasing from these regions they should have been testing for aflatoxin, and other contaminants more frequently.
  • Was Midwestern outbound testing their final products to ensure that they were safe and nutritionally adequate?
  • What types of quality control does Midwestern have in place to prevent problems like this from occurring?
  • What steps does Midwestern take to clean machinery and storage containers in an effort to prevent cross contamination to other products made in the same facility?
  • What other products were made in this facility during and after the recalled product was made?
  • Does Midwestern hold a sample of each lot of food produced so that it may be tested if issues arise such as this?


Another Lesson?

The recall of SportMix dog and cat foods is another lesson to both retailers and pet owners that it is important to ask questions of the brand of food you feed your pets. You can learn more about those questions here. I am well aware of many who think that I’m being unreasonable when asking the questions I ask, or pushing for changes in regard to food safety and nutrition adequacy testing – but the reason why I do it is because things like this are PREVENTABLE. Sure, implementing nutritional adequacy testing is inconvienent if you’re a manufacturer – but it’s worse when pets get sick or die because you didn’t implement that testing.  As a retailer it’s inconvenient to have to constantly reach out to pet food companies – but it’s worse when a pet experiences a problem because I didn’t do my homework. It’s clear that many companies do not check all the boxes, but I can do my best to support companies that are doing their best to improve. I can also educate my clients and customers on who does and does not have certain safety/nutritional adequacy measures in place. I can also tell them who refuses to answer questions!

Simply said, knowing what quality control measures a manufacturer has or does not have can make a world of difference. While we don’t know if this recall will be expanded to other lots, or even brands – it is not out of the realm of possibility. For example, if Midwestern truly did have one batch of a contaminated ingredient such as corn, and does have proper quality control measures in place (e.g. proper cleaning of machinery and storage containers to prevent cross contamination) then other products may not be affected. If they do not have adequate measures in place (or failed to follow them) it is possible other products will be affected.

In either case, the question still remains: how did the contaminated food end up in the marketplace to begin with? Was it because they were not inbound testing raw ingredients, or outbound testing the final product or both?  We’ll have to wait and see.[vc_single_image image=”4225″ img_size=”large”]Original Recalled Products: Date accessed: 11 January 2021 https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-alert-certain-lots-sportmix-pet-food-recalled-potentially-fatal-levels-aflatoxin[vc_single_image image=”4226″ img_size=”large”]Second Recall (January 11, 2021) Date accessed: 11 January 2021 https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-alert-certain-lots-sportmix-pet-food-recalled-potentially-fatal-levels-aflatoxin[vc_single_image image=”4227″ img_size=”large”]Date code example: Date accessed 11 January 2021 https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-alert-certain-lots-sportmix-pet-food-recalled-potentially-fatal-levels-aflatoxinAbout the Author

Nicole is the founder & owner of award winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.




How To Switch Your Cat’s Food


Have you ever tried to switch your cat to a new food without success? This is actually a common problem with cats, so rest assured you’re not alone! Switching your cat’s food can be stressful for you and your cat. Before you start there are a few important things to consider.  Switching your cat to a new food can be a challenge, but with careful planning, you can increase the chances of a successful transition. In this guide, we will provide you with practical tips to introduce a new food to your cat without stress.

Tips for a Smooth Cat Food Transition

  • Relax. Believe it or not, getting stressed before you even switch the food can also stress out your cat. Be sure to set the right tone by not drawing extra attention to mealtime or making a big deal about the new food.
  • Be sure to have 3+ weeks of your cats’ regular food on hand, this will be enough to fully transition.
  • Begin with clean bowls or feeding platters. You should be in the habit of washing bowls daily to prevent unhealthy bacteria from building up.
  • Believe it or not, bowls should be made of glass, USA food-grade ceramic, or a safe plant-based material. For more on this click here: Is Your Pet’s Healthy Food Being Served In A Toxic Bowl?
  • Cats can actually develop an aversion to food based on the size of their feeding bowl. Bowls for food and water should be wide and shallow so cats’ whiskers do not hit the sides of the bowl. This is a phenomenon called whisker fatigue and it leads people to believe their cat is picky when in reality it may be that the bowl is irritating them. In fact, saucers or plates are actually best!
  • Decide what you’re going to switch to, as there are countless options. Consider protein, texture, sourcing, and any health conditions at play. Textures of canned/wet food include pate, shredded, or stews. For raw food, some can be chunky or finer in texture.

Week-by-Week Transition Plan:

how to switch cat food

Week 1: 

You will only use a pea-sized amount of the new food at each meal. If you are using cans or pouches you can try and store them in the fridge for 2-3 days. However, most cats do not like cold food. Be prepared to throw away a fair amount of cat food in your first 1-2 weeks. If you are using raw food, it becomes a little easier as you can thaw small amounts at a time since many raw cat foods come in convenient little kibble-sized pieces that thaw quickly. Regardless, be sure that when you offer the food to your cat that it is at room temperature.

Simply take a pea-sized amount and spread it thinly and evenly along the entire bottom of the dish you are using. Then, take your normal food (kibble or wet) and put it directly on top.

Notes for Success

At this point, it is important to not mix the food. The small amount in the bottom of the dish is to simply introduce the aroma of the new food, and not necessarily get them to consume it. Serve the meal as you normally would without making a big deal about it. Be sure that you do not hover or stare at your cat – simply go about your activities as you normally would. Cats tend to pick up on energy and stress, and you want to avoid introducing any new variables.

It is normal for your cat to not eat any of the new food or maybe leave and return to the dish a few times before eating their regular food. Again, try not to make a big deal about any new behaviors. They should be used to the smell of the new food within a few days. You may find them even starting to lick the bottom of the bowl and clean the dish by the end of the first 5-7 days. This is a good sign, however, be sure not to increase the new food too quickly as to avoid digestive upset.

Pro Tip:

By day 3-4 of week 1 you may choose to take one teaspoon of warm water into the dish prior to adding your regular food if your cat is showing interest in the new food. This can promote an appetizing smell and help to increase moisture intake. At the same time recognize that this is the most critical week, be sure not to rush! Patience is key!

Week 2:

By this point, your cat should have shown some interest and consumed some of the new food at the bottom of the bowl. At this point, you may increase the wet food to 1-2 teaspoons. Repeat a similar process at week one making sure the food is room temperature, with the new food on top. If your cat has seemed to like the added water, you may continue to add it.

By day 4-5 of week two, you may increase the food another small amount as long as they are consuming what you are already given.  Now is the time to consider cutting back on the dry food by a similar volume.

Weeks #3 & #4:

By this time your cat may be only interested in the new food, which is perfectly ok!  If this is the case, there may or may not be a little bit of loose stool as a result of the cat’s decision to switch to the new food abruptly. This should subside within a day or two as their system adjusts.

If they are still consuming both foods, then you can continue increasing the new food and decreasing the kibble as each day progresses. As mentioned above, the entire process can be slow and take 3-4 weeks or more!

Sometimes, they will begin to act hungry, and/or vomit bile when switched too quickly because the gastric pH and amount of secretion have not had time to adjust to the new food, especially in the case of switching from dry to wet food or raw food. If this does happen try offering a small “snack” outside of mealtime. This could include freeze dried treats, food or fresh meat.

Pro Tip: Cats tend to not seek out water as dogs do. While there are biological reasons for this, this doesn’t mean that they should not have ample fresh, clean water available – ideally away from their food bowl. If your cat does drink regularly and you feed dry food, do not be surprised to see their water intake decrease as you move to a more moisture-rich food. This is normal!


The most important aspect of switching your cat’s food is not to stress! Be patient, and consistent. These practices pay off in time. Be sure to always ensure your cat has access to water. As they transition to a more moisture-rich food you may notice a healthier coat, brighter eyes, and even more energy!  Your cat who may not have been too playful prior may have more vigor and energy for exercise – it may be worth investing in a toy or two!


About the Author: Nicole Cammack

Nicole is the founder & owner of multiple-award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut, USA. She has completed undergraduate work in biological sciences, business and holds an M.S. in Nutrition. Currently, Nicole is pursuing a PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences (Canine Nutrition/Metabolomics) at the prestigious University of Georgia in the USA.

Her background includes experience in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading figures in the human and pet health industries. Nicole has been heavily involved in police canine nutrition within the USA, helping to improve the modern care and feeding of working dogs. Her interests include working dog nutrition, raw feeding, pathogens, metabolomics, and nutrition’s relationship to disease in humans and canines. Her current research involves the exploration of the canine urinary metabolome and the relationship to diet.

Publications: Cammack, N.R., Yamka, R.M., and Adams, V.J. (2021). Low Number of Owner-Reported Suspected Transmission of Foodborne Pathogens From Raw Meat-Based Diets Fed to Dogs and/or Cats. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 8. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.741575.







Nutrition: Could The Way You Buy Pet Food Be Putting Your Best Friend At Risk?

The way consumers purchase their pet food has changed dramatically over the last few years, and particularly over the last few months in the wake of COVID-19. The majority of this change has been driven by the consumer’s need for convenience. Prior to the big box retail boom and online stores, most people purchased their pet food from small local pet food stores and farm supply stores. These small family businesses generally provided quality products for an affordable price. These supply stores also hosted a variety of other products and were located centrally in town. As the shift of big box and online retail began to gain popularity many of these small stores began to go out of business.  However, purchasing from online retailers and big-box stores can have some major drawbacks such as: 

  • Storage concerns such as on-climate controlled warehouses
  • Dates close to expiration (short-dated)
  • Inadequately trained staff
  • Staff motivated by sales goals, which may mean you not getting the product you need
  • Companies who are not truly concerned about the quality and sourcing of products they carry and of the ingredients within them.

Online retailers have taken advantage of the convenience of automated delivery and 1-click ordering in this fast-paced world we now live in. It is a fair statement to say that some pets have suffered as a result. Sometimes, but not always, these online and big-box retailers buy their products in bulk which can sit in warehouses for months to sometimes a year or more! Believe it or not, we have actually had instances of previous customers who decided to purchase online and received near expired, or expired food and then try and return it to us after they purchased it “on-sale” from an online retailer! We turn around ALL of our products at least every other week, if not every week. 

We are talking about some of these issues because there are safety concerns with the sale of expired pet food. In this instance, it can become rancid, especially when not stored correctly or shipped through harsh non-climate-controlled conditions. In another blog, we will examine the multiple health and nutritional concerns of stale and rancid pet food.

Your local pet supply store can introduce you to a wide array of pet food and other products that can’t be found at common online retailers like Chewy and Amazon. We even have a variety of Canadian and European options, which can have unique quality control options in comparison to USA products. There are many small pet food manufacturers that are family-owned that offer honest and high-quality products…and many of them even have free samples!

It’s More Important to Shop Small Than Ever Before!

There are dozens of small pet food supply stores across Connecticut and many other states. Shopping small offers you many advantages:

Direct access to educated staff who truly care about the quality of the product on their shelf and the pets they are feeding. In general, family-owned businesses have a unique sense of pride and have a vast amount of knowledge and experience in many brands and types of food rather than an associate at a big-box store who often is subjected to branded training and have sales goals to meet. Small businesses, in general, do not have these types of processes deployed in their stores which ensures each customer receives an individualized approach vs. one driven by a sales goal.

  • Small businesses can actually be more affordable. Big box stores have huge overhead – and investors. Unfortunately, these retailers have to answer to these investors, who are concerned with the bottom line. Many small businesses will meet or beat the large competitor’s price and offer frequent buyer programs which ultimately save you money.
  • Many online retailers have shipping costs wrapped into their “low price”. We agree that sometimes these online retailers offer convenience, however, you may be surprised price checking at your local small retailers. Many small businesses will deliver also, sometimes even on the same day!  NorthPoint Pets also delivers…for free!
  • Frequent buyer programs can’t be found through online retailers, and neither can our knowledge or experience. Not to mention the dozens of products that you cannot find online.
  • Stores like NorthPoint Pets & Company, NorthPoint Pets & Company has an owner, and staff that are professionally-educated nutritionists. Some staff members also have additional certifications in pet nutrition which allow them to spend extra time to comb through ingredient labels, sourcing of particular products, and vitamin panels finding the perfect food for your pet. 
  • Our experience drives the type of products we carry and from what company. Meaning, we have asked the tough questions to pet food companies and manufacturers. If a product or company is not up to our standards of quality, sourcing, or transparency we are known for removing it from our shelf – regardless of popularity. We do what is right for the pets we feed, and won’t stock items we don’t feel comfortable feeding to our own pets.
  • We can even build balanced and supplemental diets for raw feeders, those who prefer home cooking, and those with particular disease processes.
  • Many small pet supply stores have extensive knowledge and offering of nutritional supplements that can help support whole-body health as well as help pets with many types of disease.
  • Small businesses also have exclusivity with many small companies that offer unique and local treats, toys, foods, and accessories that just can’t be found online or in big box stores.
  • We LOVE to give back.  We annually donate several TONS of food, often by the pallet to local rescue and municipal pounds. We also proudly feed several police department K-9’s, and service dogs throughout the state. We are humbled at the opportunity to give back whenever we have a reasonable chance to. Keeping business local, not only through your pet shops but through all small businesses provides support for your community in a much greater way than you could ever imagine.


Nicole Cammack

Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.



How to Safely Store Dry Food

We’ve all heard it before—Keep your pet food in the original bag, do not dump the food into a plastic container. But why?

Proper storage of pet food is essential in maintaining freshness and keeping your pet healthy. Pet food storage containers are typically not airtight. Therefore, these containers allow unwanted air and moisture to get into the food. Aside from the unwanted moisture, the oils and fats from the dry food can interact with the plastic of the container. All of this can cause mold to grow and make the food less palatable, and enjoyable for our furry friends.

Most kibble is dried before packaging to ensure there is no added moisture. Therefore, it is our responsibility, as consumers, to ensure that the moisture-free level remains that same after purchasing. Manufacturers specifically design pet food bags to prevent moisture and to keep the contents as fresh as possible. 

So what is the best way to store dry pet food? The answer is simple– in the original bag, in a cool, dry location. If the bag has a zip closure, it is recommended to expel all air before resealing. If there is no zip closure, release the air within the bag, and roll from the top. If a pet food storage container is available, place the bag into the container for optimal freshness. It is also possible to place sealed food in a refrigerator or freezer. 

NorthPoint Pets team

How to Ensure Quality and Transparency in Pet Products

The Importance of Transparency in the Pet Industry

Transparency is a buzzword that has been used frequently in recent years, especially by companies within the pet industry. However, it’s important to note that transparency is not just a feel-good term – it’s a crucial aspect that should be present in all pet products, including food and supplements. The lack of transparency in the pet industry can have severe consequences for both pets and their owners.

The Dangers of Poor Transparency

Many pet products, including food and supplements, lack transparency, quality control, and accountability. This means that there may be toxins, poor sourcing, and formulation errors that can potentially harm pets. In the past, there have been recalls of pet food and supplements due to vitamin D and melamine recalls, pathogen recalls, and other contamination and formulation issues.

The Lack of Accountability and Standards in the Pet Industry

Pet food and supplement manufacturers often cut corners and do not do their due diligence because there are no set standards and accountability measures in place. Major organizations such as the FDA, AAFCO, WSAVA, and PNA have minimal standards, and these standards can be influenced by corporate funding. As a result, it’s often difficult for these organizations to police everyone all the time.

There are minimal requirements for foods, supplements, and other pet products to come to market. Some organizations allow these products to come to market without any adequacy testing, digestibility, or feeding trials. Unfortunately, animals often become sick or die before red flags are raised and an investigation is initiated. This underscores the need for more transparency and accountability in the pet industry.

reading a pet food ingredient label

Ask Questions Verifying Pet Food Quality:

  • Do you conduct a 3rd party nutrition analysis on all of your finished products?
    • Do your products meet an AAFCO profile?
    • Are you willing to provide a copy of that analysis? Note that most companies are deceptive and provide Target analysis, which is predicted. This does not equal a typical analysis, be careful
  • Do you conduct 3rd party digestibility studies for each of your formulas?
    • Do you make those publicly available?
  • Do you source any ingredients from China? Are you willing to provide certificates of origin? 
    • Note that ingredients from China are not necessarily bad as long as they are well-sourced, they are ensuring and verifying quality and purity via analysis and contamination testing. 
  • Do you complete analysis of your final product to ensure the formulation is correct and ensure there are not any contamination issues?

Keep in mind that digestibility and typical nutrient analysis mean nothing without the other. Digestibility shows the amount of nutrients absorbed. The analysis shows the amount of nutrients contained within a product.

Beware of the word proprietary – this does not hold a strong argument and may imply a lack of testing, or inadequate testing.

Ask Questions Verifying Supplement Quality:

When looking for any supplement for yourself or your pets you must ask the manufacturing company the following questions:

  • Do you inbound test your raw and/or concentrated ingredients for contaminants such as heavy metals, fertilizers, and other agricultural chemicals?
  • Do you test your ingredients, specifically active ingredients to ensure their concentrations are correct?
  • Do you source any ingredients from China? 
    • Are you willing to provide certificates of origin? 
    • Note that ingredients from China are not necessarily bad as long as they are well-sourced and they are verifying quality and purity. 
  • Do you complete analysis of your final product to ensure the formulation is correct and ensure there are not any contamination issues? This is important to ensure that active ingredients match the label.
    • Are you willing to provide an analysis for each lot/batch of your final product?
  • Do your company and products meet requirements to utilize the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) seal?
    • I would not recommend supplement companies that are not members of the NASC, especially CBD companies.

Advice to Consumers

This is not a comprehensive list by any stretch. The key take away is that consumers should start asking questions of manufacturers in order to encourage change. The reality is that very few companies can answer these questions because most do not adequately test their products at all stages. By opening up a dialogue about the importance of doing so can help prevent future issues within the industry.

If companies are unwilling to transparently answer these questions or use the excuse of information being proprietary I would strongly suggest that you find another brand. Not being transparent or testing products when it comes to ensuring safety is unacceptable. Brands that are not meeting these standards could potentially be poisoning the market for other companies who do their due diligence. As consumers demand better.

About the Author: Nicole Cammack

Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.


How to Save Money on Your Pet’s Diet During Tough Times

As the pandemic continues, many pet owners are facing financial difficulties, causing them to rethink their pet’s diet. Raw and canned pet food feeding households are switching to kibble or supplementing with it to save money. In this article, we’ll explore some factors to consider when making the switch.

Calculating Carbohydrate Content

When looking for a lower cost alternative to raw or canned pet food, consider a lower carbohydrate kibble. To determine the percentage of carbohydrates, add together the percentages of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, and ash. Since ash is often not listed on the label, estimate it to be around 6-8%. Subtract the total from 100 to get the carbohydrate content.

Protein Quality

A low carbohydrate kibble does not automatically guarantee adequate or high-quality protein. Your dog or cat needs to consume a certain amount of total grams of protein rather than an overall percentage. If you’re transitioning from raw to kibble or supplementing your pet’s raw diet with kibble, it’s crucial to reach out to pet food companies and request:

  • Third-party digestibility data for the specific formula you are considering feeding. Do they conduct digestibility testing for all of their formulas? Just one? Or none?  This is important because if the food is not highly digestible, then the amount of protein is irrelevant since the animal may not be able to utilize it.
  • A typical AAFCO nutrient analysis to determine if they regularly analyze their formulas for adequate nutrition that meets or exceeds AAFCO standards. Over time companies average these analyses together (typical) in order to provide a profile of that food over time. Most companies don’t conduct these tests and will instead provide a “targeted analysis” which represents the nutrition of that food as formulated on paper. It may not actually represent what is in the final product – AND if the company does not provide digestibility data it may mean that those nutrients may not be absorbed or metabolized adequately.
  • Pay attention to the calorie ratios of the food you are considering. Specifically, look at protein to calorie, carbohydrate to calorie, and fat to calorie ratios. This information will help you determine if the food is suitable for your pet’s specific needs. It may also indicate the accuracy of claims made on the packaging.

adding raw dog food to dry dog food

Adding Fresh Food

Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your pet’s bowl can provide numerous health benefits, whether you feed kibble or raw. Using foods that may otherwise go to waste can also help reduce costs. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that neutralize toxic free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and DNA damage.

A lot of us raw feeders choose to feed raw due to health conditions, disease prevention, and/or personal choice. While much of the evidence supporting these diets is anecdotal, there is a lot of research emerging to support these diets. Regardless, we do know there is sufficient published evidence to show the detriments of processed kibble and canned foods. For this reason, many of us worry about transitioning back. The good news is the researchers at the University of Helsinki DogRisk group have shown that feeding just 20% fresh food with processed food (i.e. kibble and canned food) reduces the incidence of inflammatory biomarkers quite significantly. 

Consider Freeze-Dried Foods

If you’re feeding commercial raw, consider freeze-dried foods. Traditionally, these foods have been cost-prohibitive, but there are now highly digestible and affordable brands, such as Northwest Naturals and Vital Essentials. These foods are shelf-stable, lightweight, and easy to store or transport.


Switching to a lower cost alternative to raw or canned pet food can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. By considering the factors discussed in this article, you can make a more informed decision about what to feed your pet during these tough times. Remember, adding fresh foods and considering freeze-dried options can help you save money while still providing your pet with a healthy diet.

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide medical advice or replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian.

About the Author: Nicole Cammack

Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.


Considerations for Pet Food Bulk Buying and Shelf Life

As a pet owner, you’re probably familiar with the idea of buying pet food in bulk. It can be a convenient way to save money and ensure you always have enough food for your beloved pets. However, with the current economic situation and the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, it’s important to reconsider this practice. While it’s understandable to want to stock up on essentials, including pet food, there are some things to keep in mind.

Industry data sources show that many pet owners have stocked up on pet food, often purchasing enough to last for months. While this might seem like a smart move, it can actually lead to problems, particularly if packages are opened or damaged. In this article, we’ll explore why buying pet food in bulk might not be the best choice right now, and what you can do instead to ensure your pet stays healthy and well-fed.

Let’s take a look at the specific types of pet food for more information:

Considerations for Buying Dry Pet Food in Bulk

An unopened bag of dry pet food (kibble) can last up to 24 months, but fish-based food may only last for a little over a year. This is assuming that the manufacturer has ensured proper levels of tocopherols as natural preservatives. However, once the bag is opened, the shelf life of pet food becomes relatively short and should be consumed within 30-45 days. You can extend the shelf life of pet food by freezing it and using airtight containers, but be cautious when using plastic bins as they may pose health concerns. Unfortunately, most pet food companies do not evaluate the stability of their food and its nutrients after the bag has been opened.

The Risks of Improper Storage

When pet food is stored for a long time, especially if the package is opened or damaged, there is a significant risk of fats spoiling, mycotoxin contamination, pathogenic bacteria, and storage mites. Dumping bags of kibble into dry food storage containers is one of the most common mistakes. Improper storage of kibble is a major reason for food-related illness in pets, which is often not considered until it’s too late. To learn more about the dangers of pet food storage containers, read our other blog here

Caution When Buying in Bulk

If you have a small pet or one that only eats a small amount of kibble, be cautious when purchasing a large bag of pet food. While the affordability of a large bag may seem tempting, bacterial growth, infestation, and rancidity may make your pet ill and erase any cost savings. To purchase in bulk, it’s best to buy smaller bags and store them in a freezer if possible. Remember to rotate the stock and avoid mixing old food with newly-opened bags to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and rancidity.

Considerations for Buying Canned Pet Food in Bulk

Once opened, canned food can be refrigerated and stored for a couple of days. However, it should ideally be used within the same day. Many who feed canned pet food know that many dogs and cats won’t touch canned food after it’s been refrigerated. Depending on the amount your pet consumes you may want to consider brands that offer a smaller can size to avoid tossing out extra food from larger cans. 

The shelf life of most canned varieties of foods is 2-3 years. Therefore, stocking up is generally not a problem. Although, when shopping online or at discount retailers it is always a good idea to check the dates on the items you purchase.  One of the benefits of shopping small is that canned food is carefully tracked and rotated within the inventory to ensure maximum shelf life. 

Considerations for Buying Freeze-Dried Pet Food in Bulk

Easily becoming the “unofficial” pet food of the pandemic, freeze-dried foods offer the best of both worlds – lesser processed food AND shelf-stability.  Generally, these products take up less room and weigh substantially less than kibble and canned food so storage is also a plus. This is actually an option many raw feeders use when traveling to cut down on weight and the use of refrigeration and freezing. Many kibble, canned and raw feeders actually use freeze-dried as a supplement to regular meals, intermittently replacing meals and/or as treats. 

At first, glance, freeze-dried foods may have the perception of being more expensive, but in fact, may be just as or more affordable than canned and raw food options. These foods have had most of their moisture removed, which is also the bulk of the weight and what takes up the most amount of room which gives the perception of less food. Instead what you’re left with is a highly nutrient-dense, and likely a higher digestible product which you can choose to add water back to. Lastly, pets love freeze-dried foods since they are typically higher in meat and are generally much more palatable. 

Most of these products have expiration dates of 2 years or more – however, there is evidence on the human side to suggest that these foods have shelf lives of 20-30 years. Not something we would recommend planning on, but if the situation was dire, they are an option.

Check out some of our favorite freeze-dried options from Northwest Naturals and SmallBatch.

Considerations for Buying Frozen Raw Pet Food in Bulk

As of the publication date of this article, it is likely that a meat shortage will affect the pet food supply. The closure of slaughter and packing outlets due to COVID-19 infections among workers is taxing the supply chain. This, in turn, is already having a domino effect on the number of animals that will be bred and raised for consumption. Farmers and ranchers do not want to invest in raising animals that they will be unable to send for slaughter – a grim aspect of the reality we are facing.

If you have visited a grocery store recently you know our meat prices are rising, and this will likely happen for raw pet products too. If you don’t feed raw and think you are safe, it’s not the case. While this will impact all pet food types, it will likely be seen in raw and fresh food categories first. 

Stocking up more than a couple of months’ worth, depending on the quality of the packaging may yield some of the same problems we see with kibble. Fats within the raw are susceptible to oxidation, and nutrient loss as time passes. If you have the ability to stock up, you may also want to consider supplementing with freeze-dried foods that have a longer shelf life. 

If you are a raw feeder and need more information on switching or supplementing to kibble and other affordable options please read here.

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide medical advice or replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian.

About the Author: Nicci Cammack

Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.