Do you feed your dog or cat in the kitchen?

A recent outbreak of salmonella infection was linked with dry dog and cat food. And because dry food and treats can contain ingredients of animal origin, children can get sick if these food items are not handled properly in the home.

A new study to be published in the online version of the journal Pediatrics, “Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Contaminated Dry Dog and Cat Food, 2006-2008,” resulted in identification of the first documented outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to the use of multiple brands of dry dog and cat food from 2006-2008.

Only the best for Scout and Bubba. Photo by Dan Friedman

Seventy-nine patients in 21 states were identified; 48 percent were children aged 2 or younger. And surprisingly enough, children didn’t become sick because they were snacking from a bowl of kibble.

Instead, the illness among infants was significantly associated with feeding pets in the kitchen.

The AAP says that the kids probably got sick because they came in direct contact with an infected pet or from touching dirty pet food dishes and then putting their hands in their mouths.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), salmonella is the most frequently reported cause of food-borne illness. Symptoms of salmonella include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

Here are some recommendations from the AAP to help reduce the chance for infection from pet food products:

  • Wash hands after contact with pets, pet food and pet bowls.
  • Clean pet food bowls and feeding areas regularly
  • Keep children younger than age 5 away from pet food and feeding areas
  • Wash pets’ food and water dishes in a separate sink or tub, not in the kitchen or bathtub.
  • Avoid bathing infants in the kitchen sink.
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