PhotoIn people, stomach bugs might often be traced back to a recently consumed meal. But for pets, the food itself isn't always the culprit. 

Pinning the blame on Fluffy or Fido’s pet food may seem logical, but factory contamination is not always the reason pets get sick. In many cases, dry food can become contaminated after it reaches a consumer’s home.

How? According to the CDC, dry pet food and treats -- if not properly stored -- can become contaminated with mold and Salmonella. To keep your loyal companion from being struck by an illness, pet parents should be careful about how they store and handle their pet’s food.

Food storage tips

Once your pet has eaten food contaminated by Salmonella, the germs can be spread to other members of the household. To help ensure the wellness of both the pets and the people in your home, consumers should follow the food storage guidelines recommended by the CDC.

  • Keep pet food away from human food. Store pet food away from areas where human food is stored or prepared. Ideally, dry food should be stored either in its original bag (folded shut) or in a plastic container with a closed lid. 
  • Store in a cool place. Dry pet food should be kept in a cool, dry place under 80 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Refrigerate leftover wet food. If you have unused or leftover wet pet food from a can or pouch, be sure to refrigerate or discard the leftovers. Storing unused leftovers in refrigerators set to 40 degrees fahrenheit can help prevent the growth of bacteria.

Handling pet food

In addition to storing pet food away from people food, pet owners should feed their pets away from areas where human food is prepared.

  • Avoid feeding pets in the kitchen. Keep germs found on pet food from making their way to the family’s food by feeding pets in an area other than the kitchen.
  • Keep kids away from pet food. Because children under 5 are at a higher risk of coming down with a severe illness such as Salmonella, they should be kept away from pet food. The CDC recommends not allowing young children to feed pets.
  • Wash your hands. Once you have finished feeding your pets, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water.

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