Most dog owners make pet food hygiene mistakes, study finds

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Many dog owners are unaware of the right method to handle their pets food and dishes safely, despite the known health risks which might be related to bad sanitation habits.

A recent study found that nearly all of dog owners don’t follow pet food and handling guidelines outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and lower than 5% even knew they existed. Overall, participants showed low levels of compliance with hygiene-related practices, resembling hand washing and bowl and utensil washing. 

“Just the proven fact that so many individuals didn’t even learn about it’s unlucky,” Korinn Saker, a co-author of the study and veterinary professor at North Carolina State, told UPI. ““I feel just like the pet corporations should step up. They’ve a lot information on their label.”

The study included 417 dog owners who took a survey about their pet feeding habits. Researchers also conducted 68 food dish swabs. Proper hygiene protocols were instituted within the pet owner’s homes for one week, which was followed by one other survey.

Nearly half of the respondents stored their pet food inside five feet of human food and a couple of third get their pet’s meals ready on surfaces where human food is ready. These are two practices the researchers discourage, since pets and pet food can carry bacteria, like E.coli and salmonella.

Only a couple of third of the participants said they washed their hands after feeding, something the agency recommends. Most also don’t clean their dogs’ food bowls as ceaselessly because the FDA suggests.

Although pet food bowls ought to be washed with soap and hot water day by day, only 12% of those surveyed achieve this. One other 22% said they wash their pet’s bowl only once per week and 18% said they wash it every three months or less.

Researchers also did an experiment on how overall bacteria levels on 68 dog bowls were impacted by different guidelines.

Owners were broken into three groups: Group A followed the FDA’s guidelines for pets, group B followed the recommendations for each pets and folks and group C followed no guidelines.

Per week later, the researchers found that bacteria levels for groups A and B had gone down significantly and were much lower than bacteria levels in group C, which had barely higher levels than at the beginning of the study.

When researchers told members of group A and B concerning the results and asked in the event that they would persist with the rules, only 8% said they’d keep them up.

“I believed that that was unlucky to get that sort of response,” Saker said. “But individuals are people, I suppose. If it didn’t affect them, it isn’t something that is going to alter their behavior.”

She said that a follow-up study that reveals which sorts of bacteria are present in these improperly washed bowls could lead on to more people changing their ways.

While most individuals wouldn’t be affected by coming into contact with this bacteria, immunocompromised people could potentially get sick and will take all really helpful precautions, Saker said.