Dog owners are cleaning their beloved pet’s bowls WRONG – Expert pinpoints common mistake

Philip Schofield eats dog food

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Failing to wash your dog’s food bowl on a regular basis could affect both your dog’s health and your own, new research has shown. But only 12 percent of dog owners follow the guidance and wash their dog’s bowl on a daily basis. The study, conducted by the Food and Drug Association (FDA), looked into dog owners’ feeding habits.

It evaluated the impact of its own hygiene protocols on the contamination of dog bowls, surveying 417 dog owners.

The study found that just 22 percent of dog owners clean the bowl once a week, while 18 percent wash it every three months or not at all.

According to the FDA, this “poses significant health risks to pets and pet owners”, as it allows harmful bacteria, including salmonella, to thrive.

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhoea, fever, stomach cramps or pain and nausea in humans.

Pregnant women, children, adults over the age of 65, and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable to the bacteria.

The study found that “the vast majority” of dog owners did not follow the FDA’s guidance, with 43 percent storing dog food within 1.5 metres of human food.

Just 34 percent washed their hands after feeding their dogs and a third prepared their dog’s food on surfaces also used by humans.

The report said: “It was found that the vast majority of study dog owners were not aware of and did not follow FDA pet food handling and storage guidelines.

“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.

“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.”

In order to minimise the risks associated with dog food, the FDA advises dog owners to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling pet food and treats; to wash pet food bowls after each use; to not use the bowl as a scooping utensil; and to seal and refrigerate leftover pet food.

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It also advises pet owners to ensure that pet food is stored in a “secure location” to “prevent your pet from eating an entire supply at once.”

The FDA said: “Proper storage of pet food and treats maintains the products’ nutritional value and keeps information handy in case there’s a problem.

“Proper storage also prevents your pet from getting into his own food and eating too much or getting into your cat’s special diet food.

“Overeating or eating food that is meant for another pet can lead to health problems, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, or more severe conditions.”

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