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Experts are warning dog owners to take extra care over their pets' food bowls.
And the results are pretty shocking.
The research looked at the habits of 417 dog owners and found only 12 per cent washed their dog's bowl daily, 22 per cent cleaned it once a week, and 18 per cent wash it every three months - or even not at all.
Meanwhile, 35 per cent of dog owners said they prepared their dog’s food on the same surface they prepare their own; more than 40 per cent washed their pet’s dishes in the same area, and stored their dog’s food five feet or less from their own.
Not washing your dog's bowl regularly can pose risks, with Emily Luisana, lead author of the study and a researcher at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine explaining: “Pet owners should know that pet food bowls can harbour bacteria and that recommendations exist for minimizing that risk."
The FDA recommends "washing food bowls and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use" to reduce risks.
They also advise not using the bowl as a scooping utensil and washing hands before and after handling your dog's food, with soap and water.
Not following the guidance could lead to the spread of bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli - which can have some nasty symptoms, such as sickness, diarrhoea, nausea, fever and stomach cramps or pain.
The study explains: "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.
"... 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."
You can read the FDA guidelines here.
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