Dear Rabbi Simon,
Interesting question from a new client with his puppy…
‘What rules apply to dog food in a strictly kosher home?’
I have always been of the opinion that as it’s the dog that’s eating the food there shouldn’t be an issue, but I think the client has a point about wet, canned food and the storage of it in a fridge – I said I would ask you!
I have 3 Rabbis that bring their dogs to me, but I’ve never discussed it with them.
During Pesach, I advise my clients to move to a home cooked diet for the duration of Pesach that uses only approved ingredients, although over the years a few companies have started to offer dry foods that have a kosher for Passover hechsher.
Unless special circumstances obtain, in general, one need not be concerned that non-kosher pet food will enter the kosher “food chain” within one’s kitchen. Of course sensible precautions should be taken in the case of pet food kept in the refigerator, for example, ie, keep it covered.
Your advice re Pesach is prudent. Much commercially available pet food involves chametz issues. An important area of concern, however, relates to pet food which includes both meat and milk. In addition to the prohibition of eating meat and milk together, the Torah also forbids deriving benefit from such a mixture (specifically where they have been cooked together). Of course, keeping your pet healthy and happy is certainly a benefit. Note that casein and whey, milk derivatives, are both in the dairy category. Your Jewish clients should read the ingredient panel closely and avoid beef, sheep or goat meat with milk. Chicken, pork or horsemeat with milk is OK (for the pet, not the owner!).
Here is an article which offers an excellent treatment of our subject: http://www.star-k.org/articles/articles/seasonal/375/feeding-your-pet-barking-up-the-right-tree/#fA.
Rabbi Rashi Simon