While we hear a lot about food safety in the news with regard to human food, many people simply aren’t aware of the importance of staying up on pet food recalls and other safety issues for cats and dogs. If you suspect that your pet has consumed something that is making them ill, make sure to bring them to your local veterinary clinic in Dartmouth right away. Both dry and wet food can become contaminated or be the subject of recalls.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a non-profit organization that represents more than 89,000 veterinarians nationwide, including Anchor Animal Hospital, has a page dedicated to pet food safety recalls and alerts. You can view it and other information online at: www.avma.org.
Proper Food Handling
New Bedford pet owners should take time to learn about proper food handling and vet care for cats and dogs. Not only will proper handling techniques help to protect your pet’s food supply from bacteria and other contaminants at home, but can also protect you and your family member from treats that are contaminated with Salmonella and other common bacteria. Salmonella is responsible for causing infections in pets and humans. Pet food that is contaminated that is not handled properly can lead to serious illnesses, especially in young or old pets and people.
The best way for pet owners to avoid Salmonella is to:
- Wash Your Hands – Do this before AND after handling pet food and treats. Stick to the 30-second rule of hand washing with warm water and soap.
- Wash Your Hands – Do this after you handle, pet or touch your pet, but also after feeding your pet.
- Wash Your Hands – If you come in contact with pet feces or urine.
- Wash Your Hands – Do this before you prepare your own food and again before you eat anything.
You might have guessed that washing your hands with soap and warm water is a very important part of food safety. In addition to meticulous hand washing, you should also keep small children away from pet food and from areas where pets are fed. Do not allow children to touch or eat pet food. Pets that consume food that is contaminated by Salmonella or other bacteria should be seen right away at your local Dartmouth vet hospital. Proper food handling instruction should be part of proper vet care for cats and dogs.
What You Need to Know
When it comes to food bacteria, Salmonella is the “king” of all bacteria. People and animals can become sick from an illness that comes from Salmonella that is known as “salmonellosis.” Salmonella lives inside the intestines of animals and people. Some pets, particularly rodents, amphibians, and reptiles, can carry Salmonella inside and outside of their bodies, despite looking and acting very healthy. This bacteria is so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye, but it can contaminate a lot of foods, including eggs, milk, meat, seafood, dairy products, peanut butter, chocolate, fruits and vegetables. It can even be found in pet food and treats.
Some of the ways that people get Salmonella can include:
- Eating – Food that is raw or undercooked, such as eggs, poultry or meat.
- Drinking – Dairy products that contain raw, unpasteurized milk.
- Consuming – Food that has been contaminated with feces from animals or people.
- Touching – Pet food or treats that are contaminated and then touching their mouth.
- Holding – Touching your mouth after handling pets, particularly reptiles, amphibians, and small rodents, such as rats, hamsters, and gerbils.
- Kissing – You can accidentally consume Salmonella by kissing your pets.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
People who become infected with Salmonella will have different symptoms than their pets. For people, common symptoms include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, with the symptoms starting between 12-72 hours after consumption. While most people will get better in a few days, it can sometimes be more serious, especially for children under 5 years of age, seniors, and people with compromised immune systems. Most cats and dogs will not usually get sick when they get Salmonella. It only affects them if they are already sick with something else or can occur in young animals who ingest a large amount of the bacteria.
Symptoms for dogs and cats with Salmonella infection include:
- disinterest in food
If you suspect that your pet might be ill due to Salmonella or any other type of illness, bring them to your local veterinary clinic in Dartmouth right away. New Bedford pet owners can also contact Anchor Animal Hospital via phone to ask about any symptoms or concerns that they might have. Our Dartmouth vet hospital also provides emergency services, in addition to general veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and services. Give us a call at 508-996-3731 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our practice.