Whenever there is a pet food recall, it’s easy to immediately panic. What if my dog’s food is on that list? What if he gets sick? How do I know if he is okay? What if he exhibits symptoms of poisoning but his food is not on the list?
While there is no way to prevent your dog’s food from being recalled, there are steps that you can take to help avoid contamination. While many people associate bacteria such as Salmonella with uncooked or wet foods, owners should use the same caution handling dog food as they would with any chicken or meats.
- Store food in a clean, air-tight container. Wash container with hot, soapy water every time you bring home a new bag to prevent contamination.
- Keep food in a cool dry place. Food can go rancid if overheated or if kept too long.
- Cut the barcode off of the bag and save it in case of a recall
- Wash bowls regularly.
- Clean area around the food dish regularly.
- If food falls on the counter or floor, use a cleaner anywhere the food might have touched.
- Print a copy of the Dog Food Recall Checklist for your family to have on hand in case of a recall.
Pet parents also need to be aware that it’s not just pets who can get sick. In fact, humans are more susceptible to Salmonella than dogs. “Owners will scoop up dog food, feed their dog, and then go eat a sandwich without washing their hands,” explains Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “So, if the dog food in containment, the human can get sick too.”
To prevent human contamination, wash your hands after feeding your pet or picking up their feces. Also keep an eye on children who may wish to pick up or even taste the dog’s food.
Have a plan
Since pet food recalls can happen at any time, pet owners need to have a preparedness plan so they know what to do in case their pet’s food is on a recall list, or needs to be on one. The difference between acting immediately and waiting because you are unsure of what to do, could cost your pet his life.
What to do if your dog’s food is recalled
Wismer is very familiar with pet poisoning due to food contamination. The center gets dozens of calls a day from pet parents wanting to know if their pet has food poisoning. According to Wismer, there are two key things you need to do if you think your pet has been contaminated. “First, stop feeding the suspect food immediately,” she says. “Second, keep a sample of the food because the company and the FDA might ask for a sample. If they do, make sure you keep some for yourself, in case the sample you send to them gets lost in the mail.” You can switch your dog to a brand that has similar ingredients. If your pet has a sensitive stomach or is on a special diet, call your veterinarian for advice.
Another good thing to do is to cut out the barcode label from the bag, if you still have it, and write down the name, variety, and expiration date. These are the things the company uses to identify whether your bag of food is recalled or not, or if they need to issue a recall, they will that information to let other consumers know.
Wismer says the main symptoms people witness are vomiting and diarrhea. However, these are not inclusive symptoms and you should watch your pet carefully for any change in behavior or health.
If your pet food is on the list, it is probably a good idea to take your pet to a veterinarian for a check-up. Even if they are not showing outward signs of health problems, it is definitely better to be safe.
The next step is to clean everything. Wash all bowls and food containers with hot water, soap, and a bit of bleach. “If the bowl is dishwasher safe, running it through the dishwasher will effectively kill the bacteria,” says Wismer.
Pet owners can go to the FDA website to search for recalled foods as well as report a food recall claim.