DOG bowls could be harbouring deadly bugs that could harm you and your family, a study has warned.
New research found failing to wash your pooch’s food bowl regularly means you run the risk of extra germs.
These could not only affect their health but yours as well, the Food and Drug Association warned.
A study found only 12 per cent of dog owners said they wash their dog’s bowl every day, with 18 per cent saying they did it every three months or not at all.
The FDA said not cleaning it often enough “poses significant health risks to pets and pet owner”.
It runs the risk of allowing bacteria like salmonella and listeria – which can make people very unwell – to grow.
Typical signs of infection in humans include diarrhea, stomach cramps, and sometimes vomiting and fever.
Symptoms tend to last between four and seven days and will not require treatment – although in extreme cases sufferers need hospital care for the resulting dehydration, which can be dangerous.
People infected with salmonella should remember to drink plenty of fluids.
Symptoms can be more severe in pregnant women, children, adults over 65 and people with weaker immune systems.
The study said: “Exposure to contaminated dog food can have implications for canine and human health.
“For example, there have been multiple outbreaks of both humans and dogs becoming ill after exposure to dog food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.
“These risks may be amplified in households with children and/or immunocompromised individuals, which were over a third of respondents’ households.
“Response to individual recommendations varied, however hygiene-related handling practices (washing of hands, bowl and utensil) showed overall low levels of compliance.
“Additionally, studies in humans regarding self-reported handwashing show an overestimation of hygiene and similar forces, including the effects of social desirability bias, could be expected in this study.”
Pet food itself can be contaminated, so it is worth being extra careful to avoid any bugs.
Raw food is the worst culprit for health risks, according to the study.
It is more likely to contain harmful bacteria, so it is recommended owners don’t feed their pets this kind of food.
Some simple steps can help minimise the risk of illness, these include having a quick scan of any food you buy to check there’s no packaging damage or discolouration.
The FDA recommends starting and ending with clean hands – always wash up before and after handling food or treats.
If possible wash up pet bowls and any utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
Don’t use the bowl as a scooper, use a spoon or cup instead and use that only for scooping food.
Make sure you throw away old or spoiled pet food in a safe and secure way.
When storing canned or pouched pet food, keep it in the fridge in a covered container.
Keep dry food in a cool place, in its original bag if possible with the top folded tightly down.
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