Dog owners, watch out - you may be doing a few things wrong when you prepare your dog's meals. According to a recent study, most dog parents aren't aware that the way they handle their pet's food is putting them at a serious health risk - and it's definitely something they need to be aware of.
"Pet owners should know that pet food bowls can harbor bacteria and that recommendations exist for minimizing that risk," said Emily Luisana, the lead author of the study and a researcher at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. The study, which was published in PLOS One, examined more than 400 dog owners and found that 95% of them weren't aware of the FDA's safety guidelines for handling the food of our fur kids. Their recommendations include how to safely store and prepare pet food, as well as proper hygiene protocols to lower the risk of dog food contamination, such as washing pet dishes. But as it turns out, only 22% of dog owners wash their pets' bowls every week - and even more shockingly, only 34% washed their hands after preparing the food.
According to researchers, not maintaining proper hygiene around dogs' food and dishes could lead to serious health implications. "For example, there have been multiple outbreaks of both humans and dogs becoming ill after exposure to dog food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria," the study revealed. Not only that, but cross-contamination of dog bowls and other surfaces in the house could result in the spread of dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli. This could be particularly dangerous for individuals who are at higher risk, such as young children and immunocompromised people.
The good news is that there's a way to significantly bring down the risk of health problems by properly washing hands and dog bowls according to FDA guidelines. It's recommended that the food bowls are washed after each use and water bowls at the end of each day. Other important tips include throwing out old or spoiled pet food and properly storing dry food away from kitchen surfaces where human meals are prepared. And, of course, never forget to wash your hands!