How to audit the quality of a retailer

Sometimes it’s hard to find things that are in alignment with our values. Products, services, establishments… as a responsible pet parent you seek to find the best advice, best products, best vet, and so on. They say there’s no manual for how to raise a child – equally, there’s no manual that can teach you how to choose what’s right for your pet because the nuances of your situation are specific to you.

While we can’t tell you what to do, we can provide you with a list of questions that can help you determine if a retail store is in alignment with your values and their competency in assisting you with making product selections. Click here to see a list of questions you may ask a manufacturer in order to determine if a product is right for you. Click here to see a list of questions you may ask a vet to determine if their services are right for you. Continue reading for a list of questions you may ask a retailer.

The questions you ask depend on your personal goals and beliefs. Here are a few categories of questions that focus on common goals and beliefs, followed by some pointers on how to scrutinize the answers given to you.

There are 3 primary categories of interest:

The most important thing a store employee needs to do in order to cater to you is ASK YOU QUESTIONS.  How could they possibly know what’s important to you, or how to help you properly, without asking questions about your specific situation and interests? The more questions they ask, the more likely they are to be competent to answer questions in a way that directly applies to you – rather than puking out generalized statements that may injure your pet. You might be thinking, “I don’t want them asking about me? I’m a private person!” but read on to identify what we mean …. We think you’ll like it!


Many retailers choose the products they sell based on profitability, not the health or safety of the animals they are serving. It’s not the end of the world if you know more about navigating the pet product industry than the store you shop at – but its valuable to be able to know if it’s safe or beneficial for you to ask their advice or find another source if you need to. If it’s important to you that the retailer you shop at puts the health and safety of your pet above profitability, you’ll want to ask these questions.

1.       Rather than relying on label claims and biased product reps, the store does research before choosing or selling products.  

CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT THE ANSWER: Biased sources are not the best place to get information. Ideally, your retailer is learning from advocates with no product affiliation. Some of these people include:

  • AAFCO’s (American Association of Feed Control Officials) Guidelines – This non-regulatory organization creates guidelines and definitions which states may or may not choose to adhere to and/or adopt into law. This organization is heavily influenced by lobbyists and industry. Understanding their process and reading their definitions often steers Pet Parents away from trusting them as respectable resource.
  • State Departments of Agriculture (DOA’s) and State Labs – When they choose to, DOA’s are responsible for pet and agricultural food/feed inspection and enforcement. Understanding what they are and are not doing, and how they’re doing it, is a great way to filter through labeling claims.
  • NCBI – Scientific articles that describe the pros and cons of certain ingredients.
  • The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS/SDS) – These contain safety, toxicity, use and limitation information on chemical and isolate ingredients. Why is it important? For example, Ferrous Sulfate is a form of iron which supports the health of the blood. While it’s true that iron is necessary to sustain life, in its isolate form the MSDS report will show you that it’s more than 3x more toxic than arsenic and must be used with great care.

2.       Can the average employee identify the process they go through (standards/guidelines) in order to scrutinize claims made by the manufacturer?


What questions does the retailer ask manufacturers? – Many retailers focus on profit margin, discount programs, and advertising. If your pet is priority, they need to be asking the manufacturer, not necessarily the rep, about sourcing, quality control, recall history, company ethics, and customer support. If you want a list of questions to ask a manufacturer, click here.

How often do they ask questions? – Life can change dramatically from year to year. You may or may not still be in alignment with the values of a company you have been purchasing for years. It is the responsibility of a good retailer to know about changes within a company and relay that to you. You may ask your retailer what changes occurred with a product in the past as a way to determine their product knowledge.

What if a company changes its practices and doesn’t align with your values anymore? – A good retailer needs to be able to help you find a new product that aligns with your values.

If a manufacturer makes changes that degrade the quality of their product, does your chosen retailer continue to carry their line or do they remove the products from the store? – You may want to identify the specific values of any retailer that choose to keep selling products that have degrading standards.

3.       Does your retailer understand how manufacturers can use regulatory loopholes?


Individuals that understand regulation are uniquely informed in a way that allows them to select products based on fact, rather than misleading claims. Use of rendered meats, by-products, registration, labeling claims, chemical use and so on are factors that affect the safety of the products you purchase and ultimately the quality and length of life of your pet. Individuals that do not understand regulation and loopholes are more likely to be swayed by misleading claims or tricky ingredients names. This may result in your retailer unintentionally misleading you due to a lack of understanding.

Your retailer knows who has jurisdiction over pet food and why it matters – What if you think something went wrong with the product you purchased? Who should be contacted? Where would you look to find a history of recalls or Outbreak data associated with a product? What are the requirements of your pet’s food and who enforces them? In order to know these answers, you must know who is in charge of product ingredient definition development, inspection and enforcement.

  • The FDA has jurisdiction over pet food regardless of its ingredients.
  • The USDA has jurisdiction over meat, egg and dairy, but never over pet food even if meat, dairy and eggs are the only ingredients in a product. This is important because the USDA does not view Salmonella as a pathogen, while the FDA has a Zero Tolerance Policy on pathogens.
  • The EPA has jurisdiction over pesticides in pet food but virtually never tests for them.
  • As there are no pharmaceutical ingredients in Prescription Pet Foods, and they are classified as “New Animal Drugs,” not food, they are not regulated by the DEA and under far fewer regulations than other foods by FDA or State Departments of Agriculture.

Retailers are the front line when it comes to complaints about products – does the retailer that you shop at know who to contact if they hear a series of complaints about a specific product? Ultimately, this is invaluable for your pet’s health.

They understand the Zero Tolerance Policy and why that matters – The Zero Tolerance Policy is a guidance document (not law) that the FDA follows (and enforces as if it is law) which states that any bacteria in any amount, whether it is dangerous or not, makes the product subject to recall. Because of this the FDA often illegally enforces recalls on raw pet food manufacturers. This is important to understand so you aren’t afraid of feeding fresh food because they were forced to comply with unattainable and illegal standards.

They understand inspection and enforcement and why that matters – Most people think that pet foods are regularly inspected to ensure their claims are not false or misleading, they are safe, and they are complete and balanced. This is not true. It’s primarily a self-regulated industry, with FDA and States minimally checking in and only on occasion. Understanding what kinds of inspections are being done, and when, and how enforcement actions are taken is invaluable information when determining the safety and quality of the products you are purchasing.

4.       Do they know the recall history of the companies whose products they are selling?


Some popular “high-quality” products have unflattering recall histories. Diamond Pet Food brands (Taste of the Wild, Kirkland, Nature’s Domain, Diamond, 4Health, Apex, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul), for example, have caused repeated Salmonella Outbreaks which have infected Pet Parents. As a consumer, the safety of your pet and family is paramount – it is a retailer’s responsibility to ensure that what they sell you is safe.

Recall Statistics on Fresh Foods – Most vets are misinformed by big name brand product reps. They are led to believe that fresh foods are significantly more dangerous than high-heat processed products due to pathogen contamination and incomplete nutritional profiles. A good retailer will know that illness and death are statistically far more heavily associated with kibble/canned than fresh pet foods. In many cases, fresh pet foods use the same meats you bring home from the grocery store and prepare in your kitchen, just purchased at an earlier stage. A good retailer can navigate the pros and cons of HPP sterilization, fermentation, cooking, irradiation, clean sourcing, and post sterilization recontamination.

5.       Do they know the sourcing of the products they are selling?


Can your retailer tell you details about “villain ingredients”? – It’s not possible for a retailer to truthfully direct you to a quality food if they don’t understand the ins and outs of regulation, definitions, and company history. Here are a couple of ingredients you can quiz them on:

  • Powdered cellulose – This ingredient is sourced from the Poplar tree as paper, sawdust, upholstered furniture frames, or crate pallets.
  • Meal – There is no such thing as “meal” for humans. Meals are always “feed grade” or sourced from condemned, rendered meats and are always inferior quality.
  • Prescription Foods – Prescription Pet Foods are classified as “New Animal Drugs,” not food. Any State Department of Agriculture official will tell you that the only difference between prescription pet food and grocery store pet food is that one makes medical claims and one doesn’t, it’s “strictly a marketing term.”

6.       They can have an educated about common controversial issues


Unlike fresh, whole foods, Honey Smacks Cereal are vitamin/mineral fortified and (sometimes ineffectively) “sterilized” by high-heat processing. Despite this, it’s unlikely that you would trust a pediatrician that demands that you never feed anything but Honey Smacks to your child because it’s “complete and balanced” and “safer than raw food.” Additionally, doctors generally do provide advice or services outside of their realm of specialty (e.g. Brain surgeons don’t do General Practice or Nutrition consults).

Vets are formally trained in things like anatomy, surgery, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics – not nutrition, metabolic health, or food safety unless they go to a separate college that specializes in nutrition. Vets are also targeted by big corporations who profit on misleading claims. Sadly, there are no requirements for retailers to take classes before dishing out advise either. However, some retailers go out of their way to research claims in order to provide you with optimal service and advice.

In order to gain an understanding of an individual’s willingness to research claims, ask the following questions:

  • What research has the FDA or others provided that unequivocally proves that grains help prevent heart disease? (See Literature Review and Summary here)
  • What is it in grain-alternatives that is said to be the culprit that contributes to heart disease? Are these components found in grains, too?  Are they in the same levels? How do you know? (Answer: Anti-nutrients are the primary assumed culprit contributing to Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. Laboratory tests done by showed all samples tested, regardless of containing grains or not, contained same average anti-nutrient load (phytic acid), averaging 5% of the entire product.)
  • Has the FDA done a study on DCM and grain-free vs grain-containing products? Or have they just reviewed information provided to them by Pet Parents? Have they reviewed only information that can be fairly reviewed? (Answer: The FDA has not done any studies regarding DCM.  Pet Parents have been able to provide limited information to the FDA that they have reviewed – though the FDA admits they have reviewed complete medical records of as few as 36% of submitted reports. Further, independent literature reviews evidence that there is NO solid link between grains, grain-alternatives and DCM in dogs (see link above))
  • What are the metabolic effects of high-heat processed foods vs fresh foods on dogs and cats? (Answer: Recent studies show that pets that consume high-heat processed foods have significantly higher metabolic stress and systemic inflammation levels than those that consume fresh foods. Further, high-heat processed foods are higher in carbs, are more directly linked to cancers, obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases)
  • What is a ketogenic diet? (Answer: A ketogenic diet is a diet that is high in fat, moderate in carbs and low/no carbs. It has been proven to be beneficial for certain types of cancer, and other metabolic diseases such as seizures, obesity and diabetes)
  • Are carbs good or bad for dogs? Why? (Answer: Dogs have absolutely no metabolic need for carbs (ever notice that they’re never listed on the guaranteed analysis of your pet’s food or treats? That’s because they don’t need them!) Additionally, carbs break down into sugars which have the ability to feed cancers, contribute to behavioral abnormalities, seizures, and metabolic diseases.  Carbs can be useful for highly active dogs that burn them off quickly)
  • Are pathogens actually more likely to be in raw foods or kibble? How do you know? Why? (Answer: Statistically, kibble is more likely to be contaminated with dangerous pathogens (according to the CDC). This is because most kibble products use condemned, rendered meats, biodiesel by-products (which are treated with antibiotics), animal feces and chemicals. The pathogens are sterilized out via high-heat cooking. However, dirty facilities are likely to recontaminate the product after production. Fresh foods tend to be handled much more carefully, and facilities kept much cleaner, because they are so heavily scrutinized for pathogens by State and Federal inspectors. Due to FDA’s Zero Tolerance Policy raw pet foods are often recalled for pathogens when contamination was never legally proven through proper legal testing and validation. Regardless, if it is a commercially accessible product (not co-op, or distributed through channels besides retail) the bacteria in fresh food is almost always sourced from the same meat that you purchased at the grocery store and brought into your home for your own family to consume.

7.       They understand the benefits and detriments of synthetic vitamins/minerals vs whole food micronutrients


Most Synthetic Mineral blends are sold to manufacturers with a skull and crossbones on them. independent testing showed that all tested kibble products that use mineral premixes consistently contained excessively high in Iron, Manganese, Copper and Zinc. This was also validated by a separate recent study. According to AAFCO, these minerals are expected to be contaminated with Lead and Arsenic which was validated by testing.

Further, according to MSDS reports, the majority of vitamin and mineral isolates have no safety data available, no upper limits for use and no stated toxicity limits. So, for example, iron is said to be toxic at 60 mg/kg for humans, yet testing showed Iron levels between 224-1,200mg/kg.

Methionine is naturally occurring amino acid, commonly found in fresh meat. In an isolate form, however, it is commonly sourced from bioengineered E.coli.

A scientific article published on 11.11.20 with MDPI titled, “Mineral Composition of Cereal and Cereal-Free Dry Dog Foods versus Nutritional Guidelines,” also validates the risks associated with synthetic mineral supplementation in pet food. Showing that the likelihood of mineral toxicity caused by kibble feeding is extraordinarily high.

While synthetic vitamins and minerals have the ability to prevent nutritional deficiencies in otherwise poor quality or imbalanced diets, they also have the ability to cause illness and death in your pet if not properly dosed (and who would know the proper dose when there’s “no data” on most of them?). Ideally, you want to use products from a company that does not use any synthetic vitamins or minerals.  However, you want to ensure that companies that do NOT use synthetics validate that their products are nutritionally complete.

8.       Are the employees well enough educated in your pets’ anatomy and metabolic processes to be competent when making recommendations about your pets’ nutrition?  


To identify this, consider asking:

  • What the impact of starch and carbohydrates are on metabolism? Answer: Starches and Carbohydrates break down into sugars. They are able to provide the body with immediate fuel during strenuous activities which makes them appropriate, in reasonable amounts, for highly active and/or young dogs. However, when carbs and starches are consumed in daily quantities exceeding 10-25% of the caloric intake in moderately active to sedentary dogs they can contribute to metabolic diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, etc.
  • How big is a dogs or cats stomach compared to a human?  – Dog and cat stomachs are significantly larger, by ratio, than humans. For example, a 42lb human has a stomach capacity of 11oz while a 42lb dog has a stomach capacity of 64oz. Cat stomachs are slightly smaller than dogs. While it’s not necessary for a retailer to be able to give you these exact details, it’s important for them to understand this anatomy so they can help you out when you tell them your dog or cat is “always hungry” and you need solutions to fill them up without metabolically injuring them.
  • How long are their intestines comparatively? – Dogs and cats have significantly shorter intestines, by ratio, than humans which decreases their digestive transit time. In human intestines, dangerous bacteria (pathogens) have 1-3 days to proliferate and cause severe illness/death. In dogs and cats, however, bacteria only have 4-12 hours before they pass completely through the intestines, leaving them very little time to proliferate and cause illness. This is one reason why you’ve never heard of a pet ending up in the ER for days because they ate poop.
  • If the store refuses to sell products from countries such as China, do employees know why? Are those standards applied to all countries, including products manufactured and/or sourced in the United States? China was the primary source of the Melamine recall of 2007 and over a decade of deaths from Chinese sourced Chicken Jerky. This has resulted in many retailers being unwilling to sell Chinese sourced products. However, it’s in your best interests for retailers to apply equal standards to all countries. American companies were also at fault for the Melamine recall that caused over 100,000 illnesses and deaths. There are American and Canadian companies that have had Euthanasia contaminated pet foods/ingredients. Brazil burns rainforest for agricultural land. Nestle’ (Purina) has landed the title of “Top 10 Most Unethical Companies on Earth” for decades. Good retailers will not choose brands based solely on their country of origin – rather, they will chose based on the ethics of the specific manufacturer that creates the products.

9.   Can the employees tell you the pros and cons of cooking, radiation, fermentation and pasteurization?


If you look to your local product specialist for advice, they need to be able to help you identify what is and isn’t appropriate for your dog or cat based on their specific needs. Does cooking contribute to cancer? Is radiation safe to feed? Does fermentation any health concerns? If a product isn’t pasteurized is it safe to feed to an immune compromised pet? You probably want to know these things and which products have which process. Here are some notes for you:

Cooking – heating carbs creates a carcinogenic by-product called acrylamides. Heating protein creates a carcinogenic by-product called heterocyclic amines.  High-heat processing is known to contribute to cancer and inflammation in the body. All kibble and canned and some other food types are cooked.

Radiation – There are negative effects from radiation, most commonly cancer and birth defects. Imported foods are often required to be irradiated upon entry to the country.  If your retailer doesn’t know if your products are irradiated you can call the company and ask them directly.

Fermentation fermentation is a natural form of food preservation in which lactic acid is naturally produced, thus killing dangerous pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella. Lactic Acid is known as the substance that causes joint pain after a heavy workout – however, consumed lactic acid does not increase production of, or presence, of lactic acid in muscle tissues.

Pasteurization – We’ve all been taught that pasteurization makes food safer. This sweeping statement isn’t entirely true, though. In reality, pasteurization makes DIRTY and PREVIOUSLY CONTAMIANTED food safer. If a manufacturer is sourcing from contaminated sources pasteurization is necessary to eliminate pathogens already found in the product. Alternatively, products that are sourced from clean, uncontaminated sources do not always need pasteurization to sterilize them. Further, as you may see from the CDC’s Outbreak history, pasteurized products are often recontaminated after sterilization, leading to huge outbreaks of illness and death, making them no safer than raw products that are appropriately sourced.


1.       Do the employees know which products are feed grade and which are food grade?


  • Food Grade technically means that the ingredients in the product could be approved for human food consumption.
  • Feed Grade means that the ingredients in the product could NOT be approved for human food consumption due to contamination or toxicity.
  • A food grade product is more likely to purchase ingredients from Regenerative Farmers and Organic and/or Non-GMO sources.  They are less likely to purchase from unethical countries such as Brazil (which burns rainforest for agricultural land) and China (which notoriously uses toxic chemicals in food to increase value and lower the price). They are more likely to use recyclable packaging.
  • Feed Grade products source from condemned, rendered meats, biodiesel by-products, animal waste (aka feces), alcohol production, and chemical sources. (see previous links)

Ethically, a retailer needs to be able to tell you the quality of product that you are purchasing so you can choose, based on your standards, if it’s appropriate for your home.  

2.       They sell more fresh food options – at a minimum, does the store sell a variety of food options?


There are significantly more varieties of commercially available foods these days then there were 10 years ago.  You can purchase extruded or baked kibble, pate’ or chunky canned foods, dehydrated, air-dried or freeze dried raw or lightly cooked foods, fully raw, cooked frozen, sterilized frozen foods and you can even find synthetic free options. You can get them with or without grains and/or common allergenic ingredients.

Active research is a virtual requirement in order to adapt to consumer demand to sell more than just high-heat processed kibble and canned options. Stores with a wide selection of fresher options have obviously put some time and effort into supporting what more and more consumers are seeking these days – fresh, chemical free options. Additionally, these stores need to be able to advise you on the pros and cons of homemade foods/sourcing vs commercial, sterilization, high vs low carb and how much to feed of each option. 

3.       They don’t sell popular name brands that are ubiquitous anywhere, anytime


If the focus is profit, not quality, a manufacturer will source from anywhere in order to ensure that their products are available at any time in thousands of retailers across the nation. Therefore, the product will be consistently available, but at the expense of its quality. Alternatively, ethical manufacturers have certain suppliers that they trust. If their trusted suppliers don’t have ingredients they will simply wait until they do rather than sacrifice the quality of their product. Therefore, you can ensure excellent quality, but it may not be available in many locations or at all times (making rotation highly beneficial).

If well-known brand names are the most prevalent in the store you purchase from, it’s likely that their focus is profit, not your pet’s health.

4.       They don’t sell rawhide


Rawhide (and even the misleading brand Earth Animal No Hide) has been known to cause severe blockages in dogs, leading to death. Rawhide is chemically treated and dangerous. Retailers that put your pet’s health over their profits won’t sell products that have a long and validated history of killing animals.

5.       Can they tell you the metabolic impact that a kibble, canned, raw or dehydrated food has on your pet’s health? (Homocysteine? Dehydration?)


In order to identify this, consider asking:

  • Is one more hydrating or dehydrating than another? – Carbohydrates are highly dehydrating. For every 1 gram of carbohydrate consumed, an average of 3.5 grams of water is retained.  Therefore, if your dog ate 2oz of carbs in a day (which is the average amount found in 1 cup of kibble) they would retain 7oz of water. This water would either be pulled from muscle tissues or from drinking excessively. Alternatively, the average raw diet contains 10% carbs and 68% moisture, thus CONTRIBUTING 2.3oz of water to the system in the same amount of food.
  • Does one increase inflammatory markers?  – Kibble products have been directly linked to increased inflammatory markers, in particular, homocysteine.
  • How will each one contribute to my pets dental health? – High-carb/high-sugar products are notorious for contributing to dental tartar and plaque buildup. It is assumed that kibble cleans teeth because it’s crunchy.  However, if you’ve ever seen a dog vomit their meal you know that the pieces are almost always intact – it’s highly unlikely that your pet even chews their kibble. Of course, if it’s not chewed it’s not capable of scratching plaque buildup off the teeth. Even if they did chew their kibble, how many times have you had to use your finger to wipe pretzel buildup off your teeth? In reality, fresh, enzyme rich and low carb/low sugar foods are best for dental and digestive health.
  • What is the difference between a low-quality and a high-quality kibble? – One costs more… that’s about it with the exception of Carna4. Almost 100% of kibble on the market contains 40+% carbs, synthetic vitamins and minerals (sold with a skull-and-crossbones), 5+% antinutrient load, and less than 0.5oz of meat per cup of food.


Many retailers choose the products they sell based on profitability. It costs money to educate their employees and it costs money for their employees to spend time with you. If you want to ensure that you’re going to get the service you deserve at the retail store you choose to shop at, you may want to ask some of these questions:

1.       The store is in alignment with your values

2.       They are friendly when you come in, they listen to you, ask questions, and anticipate your needs.

  • The best relationships require listening, reflecting, and offering reasonable responses. A good retailer is there to help you and create a relationship where you feel comfortable and confident in your decisions.

3.       They focus on service and education, not sales

  • No one likes a pushy salesman. Retailers that focus on profits over customers will push their employees to get as many add on sales as possible. It’s hard to trust someone that’s trying to hit a number rather than focusing on giving you the help you NEED.  A good retailer will try to spend more time with you to identify and accommodate your specific needs – even if your primary need is reducing costs to meet budgetary restrictions. 

4.       They can they help with basic math that is necessary to help you use the product properly

To identify this, consider asking:

  • What is the carbohydrate content of the food you’re purchasing? – A good retailer should be able to do the math necessary to identify the carb load in the food your purchase. This isn’t listed on the label and might be important for you to know if your pet is suffering from, or prone to, a metabolic disease.
  • How many calories should your pet be getting per day? How much should you be feeding in order to attain that amount? – A good retailer needs to be able to tell you how to use a product in a way that doesn’t hurt your pet. In order to do this, they must be able to calculate how many calories a day YOUR pet should be getting, and how much you can feed in order to attain that number. Almost all pet food feeding guides claim you need about 20-30% more food than necessary. This is primarily because a feeding guideline can’t take into account the variables associated with your pet. Your pet will have a higher metabolism if they are intact, if they are young, if they are active, or if their thyroid is overactive and a lower metabolism if they are fixed, older, inactive or have low thyroid. These can’t be taken into account on the back of a package.
  • How many calories are in a bully stick, a raw marrow bone, a Himalayan yak chew or any other additions to your pet’s caloric intake? – A good retailer must be able to help you keep your pet healthy by knowing how many extra calories you’re giving in a chew or treat. They can help you decide how to decrease food calories, when to skip a meal, and so on.
  • Bully sticks average about 50kcals/inch. Bone marrow is 780kcals/3.5oz. Himalayan yak chews are very high calorie which is actually great for camping.
  • How much will it cost you to use the product over the course of a month? Does that fit in your budget? If not, can they help you get it into a comfortable range for you? – Everyone has a budget.  While some people have a larger budget than others, they still have a limit to what they can spend. Being able to help you identify how much it costs to USE a product, not just how much it costs to buy it, is one of the most valuable services a retailer can offer. Also, being able to help you create adjustments that are in alignment with your values while still meeting budgetary restrictions is paramount to helping you feel satisfied at the end of each month with your healthy pet and healthy pocketbook.

5.       Can they tell you how long your food is safe once you open/thaw/rehydrate it or if it is acceptable in a different package?


An important part of good customer service is being able to tell you how to safely use a product. Your chosen retailer should be able to tell you how to safely use the food you buy. In most cases:

  • Kibble – good for 30-45 days* after opening if left in the original package.  It is safe to place the entire, full package in an airtight container, but it is not safe to dump it out of the package into another container.
  • Canned – if refrigerated, canned food is good in the fridge for 3 days after you open it.
  • Dehydrated/ Freeze Dried/ Air Dried – if left dry, these products are good for 30-45 days* after you open them. Once hydrated, they are good in the fridge for up to 4 days after hydration.
  • Raw Frozen/ Refrigerated – raw frozen foods begin to lose some nutrients at 3 months. While they are “good” in the freezer for up to a year, if they are older than 3 months you may consider supplemental nutrition such as raw goat milk, raw cow milk, or bone broth.  Once thawed, they are good in the fridge for up to 4 days.

*30 days if in a warm/hot climate, up to 45 days if in a cool/cold climate

6.       If they don’t carry a product that you like, they will special order it for you without charging a fee.

In most cases, retailers have access to hundreds of products that they don’t normally stock.  If there’s something that you really want to buy but it isn’t available at the store you shop at you can try calling the manufacturer and asking them if there’s a distributor in the area you shop.  Then call the retailer and ask if they use that distributor.  If they do, ask them if they’ll special order for you.  They should be willing to do so at no extra charge as long as the product aligns with their values (some retailers will refuse to sell products that they know are dangerous for you to use).

7.       They offer bulk options and/or bulk discounts and/or track frequent buyer cards for you.

A good retailer will help you pick products that fit into your budget. This may include tracking Frequent Buyer Cards for you and/or offering bulk discounts*. It’s important that only purchase enough to stay fresh (see #5). Aside from that, buying in bulk is usually cheaper.  If you have a big dog, or lots of animals, bulk is a good way to cut the cost without cutting the quality.