Treat Your Pets Like Family
By Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine
As a veterinarian, and a pet owner, I understand how people feel about their pets. For many of us, our pets really are like members of our families. And I firmly believe that we should treat our pets like family when it comes to their food and food safety. It’s actually quite easy, when you know what to do:
- Keep those food and water bowls clean.
You wouldn’t eat off the same plate or drink out of the same glass, day after day, without washing them between meals, right? So it stands to reason that you should keep your pet’s food and water bowls clean as well.
Dogs, cats, and other pets have bacterial microbes in their mouths (people do too!), and these microbes can be transferred to the pet’s food and water dishes. If food is left in the dish, that makes for a good environment for the bacteria to grow and may cause illness—not only in your pet, but also in young children who may play with the food dish..
We recommend washing your pet’s food bowl between meals every day and the water bowl every day or two.
- Store pet food safely.
It’s never a good idea to leave leftovers out of the refrigerator overnight and then feed them to your family the next day. The same holds true for your pet’s food.
If the pet food is moist, refrigerate promptly or discard any unused, leftover wet pet food. Store dry pet food and treats in a cool, dry place (under 80º F). If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated plastic container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded closed. Always wash and dry your pet’s storage containers before refilling them with new food.
- Wash your hands.
We all know that we’re supposed to wash our hands before handling and preparing food, but what you may not know is that the same is true for before and after handling pet food and feeding your pets. Doing this helps keep pet foods from being contaminated with bacteria and other microorganisms, such as Salmonella that can cause disease. If the food is inadvertently contaminated with an organism that causes disease, washing hands also helps to prevent anyone handling the pet food from becoming ill and possibly spreading the disease to others.
Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling your pet’s food (including treats) and feeding dishes.
For more information on pet food and other pet safety issues, check out our Resources for You page.
My dog caught food poisoning by getting into our garbage. Could the cat have caught it, since they shared the same water bowl?
Hiee... thanks for putting this very useful and fantastic post.... after read this post, i'l also follow your suggestions for take-care of our dogs.... and also i agree that washing the dog bowls is of great importance... thanks.. regards Prakki
I never really thought much about the dog's water bowl. I'm glad I read this. I will really take it and put into action. Thanks
This is interesting, I didn't realize that a pets mouth was such a problem, we were brought up being told "that the dogs mouth is cleaner then ours" I just didn't know. We do clean our dogs bowls after every feeding anyway and we put them away so there not in the way on the floor but be do leave the water bowl out all the time. I will make a point of washing them out on a more often. Thanks for the info.
I paet is indeed a part of the family. You enjoy your pet but at the same time you have to maintain it like everyone else in the family.
My husband used to be an Environmental Health Officer for the local council and used to tell me all these horror stories about people getting sick because they were getting bacteria and parasites from their dogs- AND that controlling this is as simple as washing your hands after handling your dog and doing some simple things to look after your dogs hygiene like clean their water bowl regularly. I must admit, this isn't something i do regularly, however after reading your article, will now make it a priority for both my family's health and for my dogs. Zoe
Thanks for the tips. I really do not wash the dogs bowl that much, I will have to start. Thanks again, Darren
I agree that washing the dog bowls is of great importance. Just like leaving dishes in the sink for days can cause mold to develop what do you think happens with a dirty dog bowl? Leaving food out can definitely be a problem, especially if those pesky dogs get into the bag and overeat! Thank you, Kim
I found the portion about keeping the dogbowl clean very helpful. to this point I've very rarely washed the dogbowl. I will make sure to stay in top of this.
Hi there, thanks for putting up this post. I must admit I should pay more attention to my dog's bowl. It didn't occur to me before that I should be washing it every time I feed him. I'll start doing that in future.