Insider Tips: Lessons Learned About Pet Nutrition
In the world of pet care, experience is the best teacher, and at NorthPoint Pets, we’ve learned valuable lessons that have forever changed how we approach pet nutrition and health. Our team members, each with their unique insights, share a common realization: there are certain things they would never do after working at NPP. From pet food storage to dietary choices, these revelations are not just personal opinions but are rooted in a deep understanding of pet health.
“I would never pour my kibble out of the bag into a storage bin.” (Leah)
This is a dangerous practice for many reasons. Most pet parents are completely unaware that storing pet food incorrectly can have negative effects on your pet’s health and longevity. For example, many containers harbor harmful pathogens when not cleaned and dried thoroughly between bags. Additionally, the food can become rancid faster when not kept in its original packaging. Lastly, it’s always important to save your pet food packaging for referencing the date and lot codes in the case of a recall, or if your pet becomes ill. Read our evidence-based approach to proper pet food storage and follow these tips.
“I would never touch kibble without washing my hands after.” (Jenna)
We’ve been taught to think that fresh (raw) food is the only time we need to be cautious of harmful pathogens. However, your pet’s kibble is more likely to contain dangerous bacteria like salmonella, E. Coli, and campylobacter according to statistics based on FDA recalls. It’s important to wash your hands after handling any type of pet food and thoroughly clean pet bowls and any utensils used to prepare food – just like you would for yourself! Learn more here.
“I would never feed dry food without adding water or another hydration source.” (Missy)
It’s not widely known that dry kibble foods are incredibly dehydrating to our pets. In fact, many pets suffer from subclinical dehydration as a result of eating dry kibble. Adding hydration to the bowl in the form of bone broth or goat milk makes a huge difference in their overall health and well-being. Learn more about it here.
“I would never feed the same protein all the time.” (Nikki)
When we feed our pets the same protein constantly, it increases the likelihood of that animal developing a sensitivity to that protein. Over-exposure to a single protein source weakens the gut microbiome and can put the animal at risk of nutritional deficiencies. In contrast, rotating our pet’s meals is one of the best, easiest ways to boost their immune health through a healthy gut and a diverse, robust microbiome.
“I would never feed processed food without incorporating something fresh.” (Adriana)
Dry (kibble) foods present a myriad of challenges due to their ultra-processed nature, ranging from decreased digestibility to inflammation and dehydration. To counteract this, we advocate for supplementing our pets’ meals with fresh foods. Even simple toppers like fruit or veggie scraps may help to reduce inflammation, promote a healthy gut microbiome, and increase hydration. Check out our best tips here!
“I would never rely on the feeding guidelines on the package.” (Morgan)
Your pet’s daily caloric needs are vastly different from every other pet’s. Pet food feeding guidelines can be very deceiving. There are several factors that impact your pet’s caloric needs, including health status, medications, and individual metabolism. Being attentive to meal portion size is an important detail for maintaining not just our pet’s weight, but their whole body health.
“I would never feed my cats only dry food.” (Savannah)
A cat’s digestive physiology is vastly different from that of a dog or a human. One such difference is their biological need for a high-moisture food source. Dry food provides almost no moisture whatsoever, putting most cats at a higher risk for diseases linked to dehydration such as bladder infections and kidney disease. Find out more here.
I would never buy my pet food in bulk.” (Beth)
Buying pet food in bulk might seem cost-effective and eco-friendly, but there are serious concerns about food safety when storing more than a 30-day supply. Once a pet food bag is opened, the delicate fats in the product can oxidize, leading to rancidity. It’s best to use the food within 3-4 weeks after opening to avoid this. Moreover, pests are attracted to pet foods, especially those high in protein or refined carbohydrates like sugars. This increases the risk of harmful pathogens affecting both pets and humans. The contamination risk is too high, and if the food is compromised, disposing of a larger amount also impacts pet and human health, as well as the environment. Considering these risks, potential savings from buying in bulk can be offset by increased medical bills due to rancid or contaminated food. To learn more, read this.
“I would never buy food or meat/marrow bones for my dog from a grocery store.” (Mercedes)
We understand that purchasing your pet food and treats from a grocery store is convenient, but it’s not always the healthiest option for your dog or cat. Especially when it comes to raw meat and bones, which are sold under the premise (assumption) that they will be cooked before consumption. Therefore, raw grocery products can legally be sold despite testing positive for harmful pathogens. For your pet’s safety, it’s important to purchase products specifically for pets from a reputable source and follow these guidelines.
“I would never underestimate the value of involving a board-certified veterinary nutritionist if my pet has a recurring issue or chronic illness.” (Nicci)
Good nutrition is essential for pet health, yet due to their busy schedules most general veterinarians lack the time (due to no fault of their own) to thoroughly explore diverse food options, often relying on information from specific veterinary brands. However, there are reputable, well-researched alternatives like raw, cooked, and commercial diets available today, challenging the notion that prescription brands are the sole safe choices. Consulting a veterinary nutritionist well-versed in these alternatives can significantly impact a pet’s healing and quality of life, either by enhancing a commercial diet or devising a tailored recipe for specific conditions. We regularly recommend certified veterinary nutritionists to our clients, offering introductions upon request for those seeking to benefit their pets.
The experience shared by our NPP team members isn’t just about what not to do — it’s a guide to better, more informed pet care practices. Each point underscores a critical aspect of maintaining your pet’s health and overall well-being as well as challenges common misconceptions and habitual practices. Understanding these insights can be a starting point for your journey towards more knowledgeable and compassionate pet care.