Feeding not just our human family but also our pet family is serious business. We don’t want to mess it up and get anyone sick – not even our furbabies!
With all the talk of food recalls and bacteria lurking in some of our most used foods, Detective Foodsafe® wants to remind us that pet food can also be a source of pathogens which can make our beloved pets sick!
Do you remember the devastating pet food contamination that killed more than 100 pets and resulted in 500 cases of kidney failure in March 2009? The speculation was that as many as several thousand pets were affected by tainted cat and dog food in 2009.
Over 5300 pet food products were recalled at that time being linked back to contaminated wheat gluten. Major brands of pet food were involved, including Purina PetCare (Alpo), Hill’s Science Diet, Natural Balance, Blue Buffalo, Kirkland, Diamond, doctors Foster & Smith, Royal Canin, Del Monte snacks, and Menu Foods (wet pet food).
This sad story is a timely reminder of just how quickly our pets can be affected by contaminated food and the severe consequences of feeding it to them.
Recent Pet Food Recalls
The pet food recall from 2009 wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last time pet owners had to think about the food they give their pets. Just as with people food, pet food has regular alerts and recalls issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help inform consumers and keep their pets safe from harmful pet food.
The FDA takes action to alert the public and remove harmful food (human and pet) products from circulation either at the request of a food manufacturer, at the request of the FDA, or by an FDA order for safety.
In just the past month or so, the FDA has issued alerts for major pet food brands for a variety of reasons including low levels of thiamine in 9 Lives cat food, elevated levels of Vitamin D in eight different brands of dog food, presence of listeria in frozen dog and cat food from Columbia River Natural Pet Foods; Salmonella in frozen raw pet food, and microbial contamination in Pet Alive Naturals liquid products.
Most consumers understand the potential health problems that can occur when we eat food containing pathogens such as listeria and salmonella, but pet owners may not be aware that something such as excessive Vitamin D can be toxic to our pets.
Some of the pet food testing found as much as 70 times higher amounts of Vitamin D than expected, which can cause kidney failure or death in dogs. At this time only dog food has been affected by excessive Vitamin D.
Detective Foodsafe warns us that if we have pet food that has been recalled, immediately stop feeding it to your pet. If you suspect your pet has become ill, contact your veterinarian and report a complaint directly to the FDA Safety Reporting Portal.
Pet Food Warning Signs
According to Detective Foodsafe, you can’t always tell if human food will be a source of food poisoning because pathogens in our food don’t have a bad smell or taste. However, in pet food, we may see a problem that could alert us to avoid feeding it to our furbabies including these:
- Foul odor
- Off color
- Swollen can or pouch
- Leaking container
- Foreign object in product
If you want to stay informed about the most recent pet food recalls, check out the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) Animal Food Recalls and Alerts.
Make Your Own Pet Treats
Detective Foodsafe appreciates convenience as much as everyone else, but sometimes enjoys making her own treats for the animals in her life.
When you make your own pet treats, they are fresh and you know exactly what has gone into them.
Here are some favorites for you to try. If your pet has allergies, be aware of specific ingredients and modify as needed.
Simple Easy Treats
1 cup flour, all-purpose or wheat
1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth)
2 Tablespoons water
- Preheat over to 350 degrees F
- Thoroughly mix together flour, peanut butter and egg
- Add water until mixture forms a dough able to be rolled out
- Roll dough into 1/2-inch-thick slab on floured surface and cut into bone shapes using cookie cutter (or your favorite shape or simply small squares)
- Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until browned
2 cups flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2/3 cup of water
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
- Mix flour and cheese, stir in oil and water until completely mixed into a dough
- Roll to 3/8-inch-thick slab on floured surface and cut with desired cookie cutter for your favorite shape
- Place treats on ungreased cookie sheet and bake until thoroughly dry about 2 hours
Detective Foodsafe Tip: Store homemade dog treats in airtight containers for about one week or refrigerator to keep fresh longer. They don’t last as long as the commercial box kinds due to lack of preservatives, so don’t be stingy with these treats or they will spoil before you use them.
Share with other pet lovers in your life!
Happy and safe treating!