Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

Sharknado, meet Swarmanella

by User Not Found | Aug 24, 2013

Hopefully by now, you have heard about the recent recall by Proctor and Gamble (P&G) of pet food.  Iams and Eukanuba were pulled from shelves due to possible Salmonella contamination.  It’s not the first time this has happened to our dog food and sadly it won’t be the last.  And this time it happens to be P&G, but let’s talk about what exactly this means to us and to our furry children.

Recall is not a word you want to hear on any level.  Anything that endangers us or our loved ones health is something to be concerned about.  Since many things can be recalled for many reasons, let’s stick to this particular example and explain what you need to know.

First, Salmonella is not a type of dinosaur.  It’s a bacteria that is actually pretty common, not just in the U.S., but throughout the world.  It is usually found in raw or undercooked meat, but is also present in the environment and in association with reptiles like snakes, turtles, lizards, etc.  Humans and animals can be infected if they ingest food or water where the bacteria are present.  As you may remember, because this little bug can infect humans and animals and can be passed between the two, it is known as a zoonotic disease.  Typically healthy humans have to take on large amounts of this bacteria to become ill, but healthy dogs and cats can carry the bug and have no symptoms at all!

When you are sick from Salmonella, it’s usually “self-limiting” which means that you don’t necessarily need treatment.  Think about the last time you thought, man I must have had some bad Chimichangas or something and never reported it or saw a doctor.  Granted, 1, 2, or even up to 7 days of diarrhea certainly does not sound like a walk in the park, which is why some folks still need to be hospitalized for supportive care, especially infants and elderly.  Symptoms in dogs and cats are similar, diarrhea, vomiting and sometimes dehydration, but many pets will show no signs of illness at all.  Better still, they can sometimes carry Salmonella for months without ill effects!  Ok, so why the recall and why does the Center for Disease Control hunt down Salmonella like Voldermort chasing Harry Potter?  Are they really that concerned about the well-being of our household pets?  (Hint: No)

Remember when you were young and that accidental drip of chicken juice on the counter had your mom running at you yelling “Salmonella!”  You would turn to find her hurtling toward you with a can of Lysol.  The majority of the reason for the recall is safety for humans.  And since you are handling the food, you have a risk of contracting Salmonella if it’s present.  However, you have a much higher risk of being infected with Salmonella from picking up your dog’s poo, not from handling the food.  I know you are all avid hand-washers now thanks to our blog on Healthy Pets, Healthy People and that holds true, you should wash your hands immediately after handling dog food and especially after poop clean-up.  It’s kind of humorous to think that people wouldn’t wash their hands after picking up after their dog, but surprisingly it happens.  Think about the last time you were on a walk and you picked up after your dog, did you wash your hands as soon as you got home?

When recalls happen, we have a tendency to freak out and blame any illness on the recalled food, but the best thing to do is to obtain all the facts before unnecessary panic sets in.  Make sure you aren’t blinded by the easy answer.  Just because you read that “no animals have died or even become ill as a part of this particular recall”.  You should still check your food bags if you are feeding that particular type of food and if it’s on the list, stop feeding it immediately.  Even if your food isn’t on the list, you should still keep an eye on your dog for any changes in behavior and signs of illness.  Do you need to change food?  Not necessarily.  If your food is not on the recalled food list and they are doing well on it, then continue that food.  Recalls mean that the company is adhering to quality standards and in the long-run protecting you and your pet.

It’s totally understandable to be concerned about a recall, however even the best of companies with upstanding reputations can be affected by them.  Aside from public backlash, companies have mounds to deal with in the face of a recall, but do it to protect the safety of families and their pets.  If there is a problem with my food or my dog’s food, I would rather know about it so I can take the proper precautions rather than remain blissfully unaware.

If you find yourself with an inordinate amount of spare time and would like a reason to feed a homemade diet, by all means, you can certainly use recalls as a convenient excuse.  However, if you are like the vast majority of the pet owning population, you take your risks but educate yourself and remember to take precautions. 

Wash your hands after touching pet food

Don’t let young children or your elderly grandparents put turtles, lizards, or baby chicks in their mouth

Don’t eat raw cookie dough with raw eggs (oh forget that I’ll take my chances)

If your food gets recalled, stop feeding it and absolutely return it!  That is the point ya’ll 

Salmonella happens, it’s in the environment and can sometimes end up where it shouldn’t be.  From parsley, to peanut butter, eggs, chicken or even milk and sometimes in your dog's food.  In the Natura recall earlier this year, ONE single sample tested positive, that's an impressive level of responsibility considering they did not hesitate to issue a recall.  Protecting my pet?  I'd say so!



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