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Q and A on Salmonella

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

As a mom, I associate food with love. Come on, many of us do it. We care about what we eat and what our family eats. That is why it is so scary to know that some foods can be dangerous. When we hear reports of Salmonella poisoning our pets and our families, we need to take action.

Each year, more than 42,000 cases of Salmonella are reported in the U.S.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recently reported 15 people were affected by the illness and some were infected after coming into contact with infected dry pet food in the latest pet food recall.  My friends at Hill’s Pet Nutrition shared a lot of valuable information about Salmonella, how to treat it—and more importantly—how to prevent it.

Did you know?

  • Salmonella contamination can be a danger to both pets and people.
  • It can be transmitted from animals to humans.
  • Symptoms of Salmonella include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  • Salmonella is more common in the summer than winter.
  • The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

What is Salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis, a bacterial infection called Salmonella,  was discovered by an American scientist named Salmon, for whom it is named.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

According to the CDC, the symptoms that pet parents will see in their dog or cat are usually diarrhea, decreased appetite, fever, and excess salivation. Pets also appear very tired. Diarrhea in some animals may have blood or mucus.

If Salmonella is suspected in either a human or a pet, it is critical to contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible.  For pets, if there is suspicion your pet has Salmonella from its pet food, be sure to inform your pet’s veterinarian.

 Salmonella  Infection Can Occur from Many Different Sources:

  • Eating food that is improperly cooked or eating raw food
  • Handling raw meats and not your washing hands, surfaces (countertops), dishes, utensils that come into contact with raw meat
  • Eating a commercial food that is contaminated
  • Handling contaminated commercial food
  • Direct contact with infected feces / diarrhea from infected animals
  • Birds, reptiles, amphibians can carry the bacteria and can transfer it to people
  • Salmonella infection can even be contracted by simply being in contact with an infected pet

A study published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association found that raw food diets may cause a potentially fatal Salmonella infection. While the study refers to raw food infected with Salmonella, we know that commercial pet foods can also become contaminated with Salmonella. The same concerns apply with coming into contact with the harmful bacteria through handling the food and food dishes, and contact with the pet should it become infected from eating tainted food.

Protecting You, Your Pet, and Your Family

  • For commercial pet food, be sure it’s from a well-respected, reputable manufacturer
    • Ask about the quality and safety in manufacturing practices
    • Ask if foods are routinely tested for Salmonella
    • Ask if manufacturing processes ensure that all of its pet food products are safe for feeding
    • Ask if meat ingredients such as poultry are sourced from USDA facilities
    • What is the company’s protocol for testing their products? Does their website talk about quality and safety?
    • Cook meats thoroughly!
    • Your pet’s food should be cooked thoroughly
    • Always wash hands with hot, soapy water, after handling raw meat.
    • Always wash dishes, utensils, countertops, etc. that come into contact with raw meat with hot, soapy water.

Every pet food manufacturer should have a website with contact information. I know Hill’s does, and they are happy to answer customers’ questions about Hills’ products. All pet food manufacturers should have the same policy.

15 comments to Q and A on Salmonella

  • […] Q and A on Salmonella « Pet News and Views […]

  • Fulvia

    Thank you, Michele. Very important post, very informative. Salmonella and similar food infections are problems people should be aware of. Thank you for sharing.

  • MaryAlice

    I agree with Fulvia; this is an important post about how to take care of ourselves. Food is so important to us, and it is scary that food can harm us too.

  • Darwin

    I feed my dogs raw meats that come from an organic farmer. The meat is not left out all day. My dogs eat it pretty quickly, and they are healthy.

  • Alexandra

    Thanks Michele and Hill’s! I would not give a cat a raw diet because cats graze. I also wash my hands after touching meat.

  • Michael

    Very helpful article! My cat gets y/d from our Vet–just like yours does Michele! I cook all meats thoroughly at home, and actually don’t eat a lot of meat–just once a week.

  • Roberta

    Being Vegan means eating better and not worrying about things like Salmonella. Also, I don’t harm animals.

  • Tina

    Thanks Michele. Once again you are providing us with important stories. And I like the idea of being able to contact companies like Hill’s to ask them pet nutrition-related questions.

  • Justin

    We carry hand sanitizer with us and our kids have it in the classroom. It keeps them protected. But you still have to cook your meats thoroughly.

  • Ellen

    I don’t use hand sanitizer. I think it is okay to be exposed to germs. It toughens our immune system. Also, I worry about the chemicals in hand sanitizers. We don’t eat meat, and the meat we give our cats are fully cooked. Still, these are great tips. Thanks!

  • Linda

    I don’t use hand sanitizer either, and I make sure all the meat I eat (very little) is fully cooked. Thanks!

  • Anne

    Good post Michele! I love reading Pet News and Views because it is really unique. The stories you cover are not in the mainstream press, and I love it that you don’t run insipid photos of cats playing pianos! Salmonella is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Thanks for the helpful tips.

  • Georgina

    I’m in the camp that uses Hand Sanitizer after touching meats. I also volunteer at my local shelter, and when I come home, I always wash up before I play with my cats. Thanks for this helpful article. I will share.

  • Orly

    Great information Michele. Thanks!

  • Heidi

    I would never eat raw meat, and would never feed it to my family–that includes my pets.