How often you wash your pet’s bowl can affect his health and pose a risk of infection

How often you wash your pet's bowl can affect his health and pose a risk of infection 81 dog eating from his bowl indoor royalty free image 1649772452

Owning a pet means doing a lot of daily tasks that non-owners don’t even think about, like going for walks and feeding regularly. But while you’ve likely been doing these pet chores on autopilot, new research has shown you need to take extra care when handling your pet’s food. If not, it could have a negative impact on your health.

That is the main conclusion of a new study published in the magazine plus one. For the study, researchers surveyed 417 dog owners about their pet food handling practices and took 68 swabs from pet food dishes. The researchers found that only 4.7% of dog owners were aware that the Food and Drug Administration has guidelines for handling pet food. Those who actually followed best practices, which include washing their pet’s food bowl with soap and hot water after each use, were much less likely to come into contact with germs like E.coli and salmonella than those who didn’t. guidelines.

But pet food preparation often fell short of FDA guidelines: 43% of pet owners stored dog food within zero to five feet of human food, only 34% washed their hands after feeding their pet, and 33% prepared dog food in the same space as they prepared their own food.

The researchers also learned that 36% of those surveyed have children under the age of 13 or immunocompromised individuals in the household, two groups that are more likely to get sick if exposed to E.coli and salmonella.

The researchers note that there have been several outbreaks in people who were exposed to E.coli and salmonella after handling dog food. “Bacteria like E. coli or salmonella could be present and could be zoonotic or transmissible to people,” says study lead author Emily Luisana, DVM, a small animal nutritionist at Friendship Hospital for Animals. “Since other studies have found that bacteria can be transferred in shared sinks or dishwashers, this is potentially a real concern in the average kitchen.” Luisana also points out that “certain populations such as children, the elderly and the immunocompromised would be especially at risk.”

In a follow-up survey, only 8% of people who received information about the FDA guidelines said they plan to follow them in the future. “This study suggests a need for education on pet food handling guidelines and dish hygiene to minimize bacterial contamination of dishes, especially for high-risk populations,” the researchers wrote.

Most people don’t follow the FDA guidelines for safe handling of pet food and don’t even know they exist. So what are these guidelines and how important is it to follow them? Experts break it down.

What are the FDA guidelines for handling pet food?

fda guidelines It covers everything from buying pet food to storing and handling it. The FDA first recommends buying pet food that is in a container without visible signs of damage such as dents, tears, and discoloration.

The FDA also recommends that you do the following when preparing your pet’s food:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water before and after handling pet food and treats.
  • Wash pet food bowls and scooping utensils with hot, soapy water after each use.
  • Don’t take your pet’s food out with your feeder. Instead, use a clean scoop, spoon, or cup, and use the scoop only for scooping pet food.
  • Dispose of old or spoiled pet food by placing it in a tightly tied plastic bag in a covered trash can.

    For pet food storage, the FDA recommends following these safety steps:

    • Refrigerate or discard unused or leftover canned or bagged pet food.
    • Tightly cover refrigerated pet food and store at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
    • Store dry pet food in a cool, dry place below 80 degrees (excessive heat or humidity can cause nutrients to break down).
    • Store dry pet food in its original bag, keeping the top of the bag tightly folded.
    • Keep pet food in a safe place to prevent your pet from eating it all at once.

      The FDA also offers special advice about feeding your pet a raw food diet, noting that it “poses significant health risks to pets and pet owners.”

      “Because raw pet foods are more likely to contain harmful bacteria, such as salmonella and listeria monocytogenes, than processed pet foods, the best thing you can do to prevent infection with these foodborne bacteria is is not feeding your pet a raw diet,” FDA says.

      How important is it to follow FDA guidelines?

      It’s pretty important, says study co-author Korinn Saker, DVM, Ph.D., an associate professor of clinical nutrition in veterinary medicine at North Carolina State University. Saker notes that people can get “serious” and “life-threatening” infections from pet food, noting that she once developed “a serious salmonella infection through cross-contamination from a pet.” She added, “It really was quite a terrible experience.”

      At a minimum, “it makes sense to wash your hands after feeding pets,” says Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University. That’s especially true if you actually touch the food, he adds he.

      Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York, emphasizes that the greatest risk of getting sick from your dog’s food is raw pet food. “The risk with that is much higher than with dry dog ​​food,” he says. “You have to be a lot more careful when washing your hands with this.” However, he says, “there is no question that other commercially prepared foods can also be contaminated.”

      If you want to feed your dog a raw diet, know that “it’s a gamble” in terms of his potential exposure to pathogens, says Laura Goodman, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the University of California College of Veterinary Medicine. Cornell. “I would treat it like your Thanksgiving turkey,” she says. “You don’t want to wash turkey around your clean dishes and the same goes for raw pet food.”

      Dr. Russo suggests looking at handling your pet’s food similar to how you would care for human food. “Safe food handling practices for pets are similar to safe food handling for us,” he says.

      Of course, it’s entirely possible to continue handling your pet’s food the same way you always have and not get sick; the risk is there, says Luisana.

      She says that “for healthy people and healthy pets, bacteria in dog bowls can never be a problem.” But, she adds, “certain populations, or if contamination shows up in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can result in serious illness in pets or humans.”

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