My nine-year old Boston Terrier sits like a human, behaves like a human, and even has his own dedicated place on the living room couch. He’s basically my mute, furry little brother. I know that many people have similar relations with their pets, and while we say Fido is an important member of the family, do we treat him like family when it comes to his food and food safety issues? Veterinarians say that we should pay closer attention to what and how we feed our pets because our own health is also on the line.
What if somebody forced you to eat off the same dirty dish every day? Most people wouldn’t stand for this type of treatment, and your pet shouldn’t either. The bacterial microbes found in our pets’ mouths are often transferred to their food and water bowls, creating a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. This bacteria can potentially make your pet ill, and it could also harm you. It is wise to wash your pet’s food dish between every meal and clean their water bowl every few days.
When handling pet food, we should also remember to wash our hands before and after just like we do when preparing and eating our own meals. Why? Pet food is not immune from possible contamination caused by bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, such as Salmonella. We wouldn’t want to make our pets sick by feeding them contaminated Milk Bones. In addition, if the food is somehow already contaminated, washing hands prevents us from falling ill.
However, even if we take great care in how we feed our furry friends, we should also take note of what we feed them. Arguments for and against sharing table scraps are both compelling; however, if we do choose to stick to canned or bagged pet food, we should follow veterinary recommendations, make sure that the products contain needed nutrients, and take note of recalled pet products. The Humane Society keeps a regularly updated list of recalled pet food products found here.
In addition, we should be mindful of how we store pet food. Leftovers from moist foods, like canned kitty or dog chow, should be refrigerated promptly or discarded. Dry pet food and treats should be stored in a cool, dry place (under 80 degrees F). It’s best if the food is kept in the original bag but placed inside of a clean plastic container with a lid. Remember to wash this container regularly as well.
In sum, food borne illnesses can affect all living things, and your pets rely on you to keep them protected from harmful bacteria.
Sources: foodsafety.gov, humanesociety.org