Do You Know The Signs Of Food Poisoning In Your Pets?

Posted on: 14 October 2015


Each year, pet products are recalled because they have been contaminated with salmonella or listeria. While these two foodborne pathogens can make humans very sick, can they affect pets in the same way?

Signs of Salmonellosis

Both dogs and cats can carry Salmonella bacteria without getting sick. In fact, the most common type of Salmonella bacteria is found in as many as 36 percent of healthy dogs and 18 percent of healthy cats.

But dogs and cats can get very sick from Salmonella, too. There is no way to know when your pets may be carriers and when or if they will become ill. Symptoms include:

  • Lethargy or an unwillingness to participate in regular routines
  • Disinterest in food
  • Loose stools that may be bloody
  • Fever

If your dog or cat shows these signs for more than a day or if anyone in your home has been ill with a foodborne illness, take your pet to an animal hospital for an evaluation. 

Signs of Listeriosis

Fortunately, it's rare for dogs and cats to get sick from listeria. (It's much more common in sheep, goats, rabbits and rodents.) But if your pet does become sick from eating food contaminated with listeria, it can cause neurological symptoms like confusion or a lack of coordination as well as the more typical bacterial contamination signs like vomiting and diarrhea.

Listeria is considered very serious in humans, especially in pregnant women and the very young or elderly, so it's best to prevent your pets from accessing potentially contaminated foods or garbage. 

If you see symptoms or your pet has consumed a product that is recalled, you can get your pets tested at your local animal hospital to see if they are carrying listeria.

Avoiding Foodborne Illnesses 

As bad as it may be to have your pet become sick from a contaminated pet food product, there are risks to you and your human family members if you handle pet food or treats. 

Good hygiene is the most important way you can avoid getting sick with Salmonella or listeria bacteria. Wash your hands after handling pet food or treats, after petting or interacting with your animal and before touching any of your own food.

Here are some other ways for you to keep your human and animal family members safe from contaminated foods:

  • Check the food packages you purchase and never buy ripped pet food bags or dented pet food cans.
  • Wash pet food and water bowls with hot, soapy water after each use. Use of a diluted bleach solution or other disinfectant on bowls and other surfaces that come into contact with pet food is recommended. 
  • Keep cats indoors so they do not hunt, kill and consume contaminated birds, rodents or small reptiles.
  • Consider avoiding or discontinuing a raw food diet for your animals. Raw meat is not proven to be healthier or better for your domestic dogs or cats and it can carry dangerous bacteria.

Talk to a veterinarian or animal hospital such as Centennial Animal Hospital for more information about protecting your pets from foodborne illness.