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Safe & Proper Feeding of Pets

We love our pets as family members, but food that’s good for our family is not always safe for our pets. In some cases, feeding pets people food, can be harmful. Foods like chocolate, onions and macadamia nuts can be toxic to cats and dogs.

Reading labels correctly and feeding your pet only foods appropriate for his or her age, species and health condition can save you the heartache of special diets, high vet bills, and an unhealthy pet.

Follow directions. Feeding your pet too much or too little doesn’t make a complete and balanced diet.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects businesses that make and sell animal food.

Pet treats and pet foods must be properly labeled. All ingredients must be listed by weight, from major to minor ingredients. Major ingredients are generally recognizable animal or plant names. Minor ingredients are mostly those that supply minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. Minor ingredients may also include preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and coloring or flavoring.

Labeling claims can be confusing and even misleading.

Pet food labeled “complete and balanced” contains all the nutrients your pet needs, in the correct amounts, if that product is all your pet eats.

Many Pet foods are labeled "human-grade". The use of the term "human-grade" is sometimes misleading, as it may only be used if every ingredient and the resulting product are stored, handled, processed and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations for current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs) for human edible foods.  

Products labeled “organic” must meet USDA standards. Certified organic products display the USDA organic seal and must be made of at least 95% organic ingredients. The USDA does not consider organic foods to be necessarily safer, healthier or more nutritious than conventionally-produced foods. The seal assures consumers who prefer organic products that they will get what they pay for.

For detailed information on how to buy safe, nutritious pet food, visit

Pet Food Safety

  • Be sure packaging is not open or damaged.
  • Purchase only products in good condition.
  • Keep dry food in a cool, dry place in its original container.
  • Refrigerate or discard leftover wet food.
  • Keep pets away from food storage areas.
  • Keep pets away from household trash or garbage.
  • Do not use a pet dish as a food scoop.
  • Dispose of expired or spoiled pet food safely.
  • Keep raw meat or poultry frozen until use. Thaw in microwave or refrigerator.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods and food surfaces.
  • Throw uneaten raw food away after 2 hours.
  • Clean food prep surfaces with bleach solution.

Read labels. 

Is it nutritionally appropriate for my pet? Do I know what’s in it?

Follow directions. 

Feeding too much or too little does not make a complete, balanced diet.

If your pet is ill, see your vet.