Pet owners should be on alert: the results of a recent study found a significantly higher prevalence of certain pathogens in raw pet food when compared with traditional pet foods.  In addition to the pets becoming sick, anyone living in the home, especially young children, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system, are at risk of becoming infected with these bacteria.

A study performed for the FDA testing various types of pet food found a significantly higher incidence of Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli in raw pet food compared with more traditional forms of pet food, specifically:

“Of the 480 dry and semi moist samples, only 2 tested positive: one for Salmonella and one for Listeria greyii. But for the raw foods and jerky treats, 66 samples were positive for Listeria, 32 of those for Listeria monocytogenes, and 15 were positive for Salmonella.”

Pet owners should take precautions when feeding any type of food, since any food can be contaminated with these pathogens.  In the past, dry pet food contaminated with Salmonella “sickened at least 14 people, hospitalizing five.”

However, because of the increased risk of the spread of pathogens from contaminated raw pet food, the FDA, CDC, and AVMA recommend steering clear of this form of food for pets.

No matter what type of pet food you use, the following tips will help keep your family, pets, (and YOU), safe and healthy:

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  • Wash your hands before and after handling pet food;
  • Keep your pet’s bowl clean, and wash thoroughly especially after feeding raw food;
  • Do not let your pet move the raw food around the house, and if they do, clean up thoroughly afterwards to make sure that floor surfaces and furniture are not contaminated;
  • Clean any utensils used to prepare or scoop out the food thoroughly, and keep in mind there may be bacteria on those items, so do not place them on counters, or other areas where they may come into contact with human food;
  • Keep small children away from the feed bowls and pet food;
  • Store pet food appropriately-raw food should be properly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator or freezer, and used within a short amount of time to prevent spoilage;
  • Throw away any food your pet does not eat-no left overs;
  • Contact your veterinarian if your pet exhibits signs of illness, and your physician if you or your family gets sick.

The FDA describes the Difference bewteen Cleaning and Disinfecting:

Cleaning removes germs (like bacteria) and dirt from surfaces and objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs and dirt. This process doesn’t necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, cleaning lowers the number of germs and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces and objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals, such as bleach, to kill germs. This process doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces and objects or remove germs, but by killing germs after cleaning, disinfecting can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

No matter what you decide to feed your pet(s), take extra precautions to help prevent the spread of bacteria in and around your home.