According to a study, only one-third of pet owners wash their hands after feeding their pets.
According to a new study, the majority of dog owners in the United States are unaware of — and do not follow — FDA standards on proper pet food and dish management. According to the authors of the study, which was published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, better education and implementation of the rules could reduce contamination.
Both dogs and people, especially those with impaired immune systems, are at risk when handling pet food and dishes. According to the study's authors, tainted dog food has caused multiple outbreaks of bacterial infection in dogs and humans. The FDA has published online guidelines for safe pet food and dish handling, but the material is limited, and the implications of the suggestions are unknown, according to the authors.
Dr. Emily Luisana of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and colleagues conducted a poll of 417 dog owners to assist clarify the situation. They discovered that only around 5% of the owners were aware of the standards, and that many of the suggestions were ignored. Only one-third of respondents said they wash their hands after feeding their dogs, and only two-thirds said they prepare dog food on surfaces distinct from those used for human food. According to the authors, the latter aspect is of potential public health concern but is not addressed in the FDA recommendations.
The researchers analyzed 68 household dog food plates for bacterial contamination to better understand the consequences of the FDA recommendations. They divided the proprietors into three groups after the initial testing and gave them varied directions for applying food management norms, then tested the meals again after one week. They discovered that dishes from owners who followed the FDA's pet food handling standards, either alone or in combination with the FDA's human food handling protocol, were much less contaminated than dishes from owners who were not instructed to follow either policy.
The researchers acknowledged that their study was limited and that further research is needed to determine the best hygiene practices and how to disseminate them.
Nonetheless, the researchers made recommendations for owners, doctors, pet food distributors, and manufacturers based on their findings to prevent contamination in pet food bowls. These include ensuring that family members who feed pets follow FDA requirements and including written guidelines with pet food sales.
The majority of pet owners are unaware that their pet's food bowls might be a hidden source of infection in the home. Knowing how to reduce this risk and practice good pet food storage and hygiene could lead to a happier, healthier home, according to the authors.