I am now 6 ½ months pregnant and still somewhat peacefully coexisting with our four pets. But pregnancy has meant giving special attention to handwashing and avoiding cross-contamination.
Although I thought I was being overly cautious, on Sept. 13 Pedigree small crunchy bites and Pedigree large breed complete nutrition dry pet food products were recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination (see http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/2008/09/articles/animals/dogs/pet-food-recall-salmonella/). This appears to be the same food we feed our dogs and I know one of them was throwing up outside yesterday. Of course … she also likes to eat grass and other vomitous materials.
In addition to pet food which may contain pathogens, I pay close attention to the handling of dog treats which have been found problematic in the past. Our dogs have been getting their fill of bones lately because we haven’t had the usual time and energy to devote to their exercise. I try to avoid touching the dog bones when I take them out of the package and I wash the scissors I use to cut the packages open. I always wash my hands afterwards.
It really isn’t easy to think about washing hands every time you feed and pet the dogs, but the following are things I am trying to do to keep me and my future baby safe:
- regularly wash the dog dishes
- wash my hands every time I fill the dog water and food bowls (the dogs eat and drink, spreading any microbes from one bowl to the next)
- wash my hands after opening treats and/or giving them to the dogs
- wash the scissors after opening treat bags
- wash my hands after playing with the pets
- avoid letting the dogs lick my face of hands
- wipe down the counter where pet treats have touched
These steps are all much more difficult for me than they sound. I’m usually very playful and affectionate with my pets, even though I no longer allow the dogs on the bed or couch. It’s also very difficult to think about handwashing when you are out on a walk with the dogs and give them treats as part of a training process. In those cases I just remind myself not to touch my face or use a wet wipe when I have one handy.
I am still learning after years of taking it for granted that my dogs’ food was safe. Food safety, even for pets, is not simple.
For human symptoms of salmonella poisoning, check out http://barfblog.foodsafety.ksu.edu/2008/06/articles/salmonella/salmonella-symptoms/
According to an article in the North Country Gazette (April 3, 2007) related to a past pet food recall:
Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Apparently well animals can be a carrier and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.