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Is your pet's petfood making you sick?
Many people think we can't get sick from our pets. But new studies are showing that people can actually contract some pretty dangerous infections from pet food. Simply feeding your pet in your kitchen could put you or your family at risk. Liz Crenshaw explains.
"Haught is on the floor all the time."
Randy Neppl's one and a half year old son, Haught, is at the age when he's crawling all over the house, including in the kitchen, where the family's yellow lab, Buttercup, also has his meals.
"To be honest, when he started crawling, his favorite toy was the dog bowl and he would throw it everywhere."
What Neppl didn't realize, was that she was putting her son at risk of getting sick from dangerous bacteria like Salmonella that could be lurking in some pet foods.
"You're dealing with an animal product. Most of the food is cooked and that will destroy the salmonella, but if anything is added after the cooking process, like a flavoring than that can increase the chance of a salmonella contamination."
In fact, in the last two months alone, the Food and Drug administration has reported dozens of pet food recalls most of which were due to possible salmonella contamination.
And since October 2011, a total of 15 people have been affected by salmonella linked to dog food. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 5 of those people were hospitalized.
"If the food was contaminated and you were to touch it and not wash your hands and get it into your system, then yeah, you could contract it."
"Most of us feed our dogs or cats right in our own kitchen, from the kitchen counter with the utensils, etc. You say, don't do that?"
"There was a recent study that came out that found that people who fed their dogs or cats in their kitchen were four times more likely to contract a bacterial infection from their food."
So your first line of defense: Don't feed your pet in the kitchen, and use specific utensils just for pet food.
"We've been trying to take as many precautions as we can."
Once Randy Neppl learned about the potential health problems with contaminated dog food, she's made some changes in her home.
She puts Buttercup's bowl away after he eats, doesn't allow her son Haught to feed the dog anymore and is diligent about washing her hands after preparing the pet food.
"I think every mother gets pretty concerned about anything that can potentially harm their children."
After learning that commercially prepared pet foods can contain bacteria, some people might think: "I'll make my own pet food."
Veterinarians warn against doing that. It could actually harm your animals because store-bought versions are fortified with special nutrients for dogs and cats.
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