caring for an elderly dog
About Me
caring for an elderly dog

When your dog doesn't seem interested in eating his food, do you know what to do? When your dog vomits often, could there be something serious wrong with him? If he struggles to get up the stairs, does he need to see a vet? Having never owned an older dog, I knew nothing about the things that can begin to go wrong when dogs age. I adopted this guy when my neighbor moved into a nursing home and had to learn a lot about how to care for an older dog. My blog is filled with the many things that I have learned over the last year through the help of my vet.


caring for an elderly dog

Could Your Pet's Food Or Treats Be Contaminated?

Lucy Grant

You probably enjoy spoiling your pets with food or treats they like to eat. But how safe are the pet products you buy? 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which tracks recalls of pet food that are either required by the agency or that a company does voluntarily, listed 20 recalls through July 2015. These recalls were for reasons that included contamination from salmonella and listeria, two types of bacteria that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in affected pets.

Learn About Recalls

The FDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) posts recalls to their websites, along with additional details from the impacted companies instructing consumers on how to return or get reimbursed for the potentially contaminated product.

Many pet food stores, especially the larger chains, will pull recalled products from the shelves and post information about the recall. When you shop for your pet food and treats, check the shelves for fliers that announce products have been recalled.

Minimize Other Contamination

In addition to the manufacturing errors that result in recalls, individual food items may become contaminated if they are not stored or opened properly. Never feed your pet food from a package that has been opened or damaged. Follow all the label recommendations for storing food once it is open, and toss it if it is past the expiration date or you've had it unopened for longer than a year.

Know Risks to Pets and People

The specific risks and symptoms your pet may have depend on their existing health, how much of the product the pet ate and how much contamination was present. The type of contamination is also important.

  • Salmonella. These bacteria -- there are a few different types -- bind to the wall of the intestine and cause our immune systems to react through vomiting and diarrhea. Your pet may also have blood in its stools or be running a fever. You'll probably also notice your pet acting lethargic and eating nothing or very little.
  • Listeria. This type of bacteria produces signs associated with food poisoning: vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • Imbalance of ingredients. Sometimes the manufacturing process goes awry and too much of something gets added. Excess salt and vitamin D are two examples of what caused recalls in pet food this year.

Humans usually get sick from contaminated pet food when they handle the food without washing their hands afterwards. Sometimes cross-contamination can happen when a person puts pet food on, for example, the kitchen counter, and then prepares human food in the same place without cleaning properly. In addition, people can get these illnesses from interacting with their sick animals and not using proper hand washing techniques.

Seek Medical Attention if Needed

If your pets show signs of vomiting and diarrhea, they may be dehydrated. A visit to a veterinarian, like All-Pets Hospital, for a checkup and IV fluids can help them rehydrate and feel better. Your veterinarian can also help you determine whether to report an illness and to whom the report should be made.

If you, the owner, show symptoms of salmonella, listeria or another foodborne illness, call your doctor. You may be asked to visit the doctor or your county health department to identify your illness. An outbreak can sometimes be identified and a specific responsible product pinpointed from the people who have become sick.

Fortunately, most pets and people recover completely from foodborne illnesses. Talk to your veterinarian if you have additional questions about signs of bacterial illness and how to care for your pet if you suspect it has become sick.