Recently, we alerted pet parents about a food recall that affected several types of dry dog food for containing excessive levels of vitamin D. Now the FDA released an additional warning concerning another pet food recall, this time due to Salmonella exposure.
Feeding our pets healthy, safe food is important. And due to its common prevalence, risk from Salmonella infection is not likely to go away. However, there are some things that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you to know so that you can help keep your pet safe.
What Is Salmonella?
Salmonella infection, or Salmonellosis, is caused by a bacterium called Salmonella. Both humans and animals are susceptible to Salmonella infection. Salmonella bacterium lives in the intestinal tract of humans and animals, and is released through feces. People or animals can became ill when they ingest a food item that has been contaminated with Salmonella.
In people, this is usually caused by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs or egg products. (It’s the reason you shouldn’t eat raw cookie dough!) But pets are also at risk of Salmonella infection if they eat these items. Pet foods made with meat or animal products may also become contaminated due to Salmonella’s ubiquitous nature. Fortunately, there are many safeguards in place to minimize the risk of contamination during the manufacturing process of these animal products and foods.
What Are the Dangers of Salmonella?
For many pets, being exposed to Salmonella bacterium will not cause any problems, or cause only mild symptoms that may go away on their own.
If symptoms develop, they most often affect a pet’s intestinal tract, leading to diarrhea with occasional blood, vomiting, nausea, fever and possible dehydration.
In severe cases, the infection may get into the blood and lead to sepsis or blood poisoning. While this is not common, it is very serious and potentially life-threatening. Pets who are very young, very old or have a compromised immune system are more susceptible to infection.
How Can I Keep My Pets Safe?
There are a few easy steps you can take to help reduce the risk for Salmonella infection in your pet:
When purchasing pet food, make sure there is no visible damage to the packaging.Regularly wash pet food and water bowls.Promptly refrigerate or discard left-over wet pet food.Wash hands before and after handling raw meat or eggs.Clean areas used to prepare food immediately after use.
If you suspect your pet is ill due to Salmonella infection, it is important you take them to your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian may first run a couple of tests to confirm diagnosis, and treatments for Salmonella infection may include intravenous or subcutaneous fluids to correct dehydration or electrolyte imbalances, medications to control vomiting, bland diet and possibly antibiotics.
If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.