If you’re a pet lover you may be among those who like to spoil their pets. My cats get the occasional treat, but being cats they’re finicky and the organic, meat-only healthy treats that cost an arm and a leg don’t pass muster. They prefer the easy-to-find on sale Temptations Cat Treats. I have also spent a fair chunk of change on fluffy, plush cat beds. It was a waste of money.
Dog lovers have a never-ending supply of treats they can pick up for their beloved canine friends, from rawhide and animal bones to pigs’ ears and raw food. If you think you dog may like it, you can probably find it. Unfortunately, pet treats and raw food does have some pitfalls and can adversely impact not just your pet’s health, but yours as well. Case in point, pig ears sold as dog treats in 33 states are being recalled due to an outbreak of Salmonella. At least 127 people have now been stricken with the bacteria, with 26 of them hospitalized. Thankfully no one has died.
Salmonella can affect animals eating contaminated products as well as the humans who handle the sickened animals or the infected product. Affected pets may become lethargic and have diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Dog owners who have come in contact with the pig ear treats should see if a doctor if they experience high fever (temperature over 102˚F), blood in stool, diarrhea, or frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquid down, and are concerned about the symptoms. People infected with Salmonella are usually ill for 4-7 days and recover without treatment.
Some key recommendations from the CDC include:
1. Do not feed any pig ear treats to your dog. Throw them away in a secure container so that your pets and other animals can’t eat them.
· Even if some of the pig ears were fed to your dog and no one got sick, do not continue to feed them to your dog.
· Wash containers, shelves, and areas that held any pig ear dog treats with hot, soapy water. Be sure to wash your hands after handling any of these items.
2. Shop safely
· Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching unpackaged dog food or treats, including products in bulk bins or on store shelves.
3. Take extra care around young children
· Children younger than 5 should not touch or eat dog food or treats.
· Young children are at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
Thankfully, as a vegetative bacteria, Salmonella spp. are among the easier-to-kill pathogens. Until recently, Salmonella was one of the 3 main bacteria that had to be tested in order to receive a Hospital-Level disinfectant designation by the EPA. While it is no longer required to be tested, virtually every consumer and professional product carries the claim due to its importance and association with foodborne illnesses.
If you have any pig ears at home, please take care and make sure your home is Salmonella-free!