Treat Your Pets Like Family
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.
Your pet’s food is regulated by FDA in a way similar to food for humans. Pet food must be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.
There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval, but FDA ensures that the ingredients used in pet food are safe and have an appropriate function in the pet food.
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