If you’re concerned about just how safe the food is you’re feeding your pet, you’re not alone. Since 2004 there’s been a pet food recall an average of every 3 months, leaving pet owners fearful and uncertain about what products are safe for their pet. Your pet trusts you to do what’s best for them, so follow these precautions to make it less likely your pet will suffer from a pet food recall.

First of all, regularly check online for bulletins about tainted pet food. The FDA and Humane Society regularly update their websites about pet food recalls, and you may even consider joining an online community that will notify you via email or text message when there is a new pet food recall. If you learn that your pet’s food has been recalled, stop feeding that particular product to your pet immediately and contact your veterinarian, even if your pet doesn’t seem to be experiencing any unusual symptoms.

You can typically return the recalled product to the store where you purchased it and get a full refund without a receipt, but it’s probably a good idea to print out the recall information from the Internet and bring it along with you. If you decide to dispose of the recalled pet food instead of returning it, make sure you deposit it in an area not accessible to animals. Double bag it into heavy duty garbage bags and place it in your trashcan, or take it directly to a dumpster if you’re worried about an animal breaking into it. For more information on returning the food or disposing of it, contact the manufacturer of your particular pet food.

Once you’ve disposed of the contaminated pet food, you’ll need to thoroughly clean anything that may have come in contact with it, like the plastic storage container you use to hold it, your pet’s bowl, plastic place mats you might keep underneath the bowls, etc. Use an antibacterial cleaner or a mixture of 1 part bleach and 4 parts water to sterilize the items, making sure you wear gloves to protect yourself, too.