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How Safe Is Your Dog’s Food?

Over the last several years, numerous dog food brands and treats have 
been recalled for chemical contamination or Salmonella. This last summer 
many dog food brands were recalled due to Salmonella; all were 
manufactured in a Diamond Pet Foods plant in Gaston, South Carolina, 
USA. This plant makes many brands besides their own Diamond brand; 
Solid Gold, Canidae, Taste of the Wild, and Kirkland (Costco’s brand) were 
just some of the types of food affected. Further investigation showed that 
problems extended back to October 2011.  By July 2012, at least 49 people 
had been sickened from the Salmonella in the dog food, and ten had been
hospitalized. Salmonella can cause illness in dogs as well, such as vomiting 
and diarrhea. It is not known how many pets were affected from this 
infection.  And like humans, some dogs and cats may not show any 
symptoms, but become carriers of Salmonella and can infect other animals 
and people.

An even larger problem is the chicken jerky treats made in China. It has 
been known for a few years that  many dogs have been sickened from them, 
and the number of cases is increasing. The FDA just reported that in the last 
18 months, 360 dogs and one cat have died from ingesting them. Extensive 
analysis has not revealed the cause. They have been tested for several 
chemical compounds including melamine, heavy metals, pesticides, and 
other toxins and infectious agents. The warning has now been extended to 
duck and sweet potato jerky treats. 

For pet owners and veterinarians, there’s nothing quite as scary as 
discovering the food that you feed your dog is actually making him or a 
human family member sick. While you can’t prevent your pet’s food from 
being recalled, you can take the following five steps to reduce the risk for 
food poisoning and contamination or at least document a problem.

1. Store food in an airtight container. Before adding a new bag of food 
to the container, thoroughly wash it out with soap and hot water.

2. Save the barcode. Cut the barcode off your dog’s current food bag. 
Oftentimes a brand will only recall certain bags of food, depending on 
where they were manufactured. This information is contained in the barcode.

3. Wash bowls and food space regularly, and then disinfect them in bleach.   
If dry dog food falls on the floor, treat it the same as you would raw meat 
or chicken; clean the floor immediately with antibacterial spray.

4. Watch for symptoms. If you notice a change in your pet’s behavior and 
energy levels, contact your veterinarian. Common symptoms include 
vomiting and diarrhea. It is always possible that your dog’s food may be 
making him sick but it has not officially been recalled.

5. Practice good hygiene. When feeding your dog, it’s natural to reach down 
and pick up fallen pieces of food off the floor and put them back in your 
pet’s bowl. If the food is contaminated with E. coli or salmonella, however, 
then doing so will spread these dangerous bacteria to your hands. Always 
wash your hands with soap and water after feeding your dog; never touch 
your eyes, ears or mouth with unwashed hands.

If you suspect that your dog’s food is making him sick, contact your 
veterinarian and government regulators. In the United States, the Food 
and Drug Administration (FDA) formally tracks complaints about suspect 
dog food and treats. You can contact the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
KTLA 5 News

My dog’s food was recalled – what should I do now?

1. Immediately stop feeding your dog the recalled food; save a small 
    sample of the food and the barcode label in case government regulators 
    need to test the food.
2. Disinfect everything, including your dog’s food bowl, food storage container 
    and feeding space with bleach and hot, soapy water.
3. Immediately take your dog to your veterinarian for a wellness exam, 
    even if your dog does not show symptoms of food poisoning. In some 
    cases, internal organ damage can accumulate slowly over time; early 
    intervention is essential to protecting your pet’s health.

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