Many people think they can't get sick from their pets, but new studies show that people can get some pretty dangerous infections from pet food.
Simply feeding your pet in your kitchen could put you or your family at risk.
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," Neppl said.
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,” Veterinarian Ashley Hughes said. “Most of the food is cooked and that will destroy the salmonella, but if anything is added after the cooking process, like a flavoring then that can increase the chance of a salmonella contamination."
In the last two months, the Food and Drug Administration has reported dozens of pet food recalls; most were due to possible salmonella contamination.
Since October 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 15 people have been affected by salmonella linked to dog food; five of those people were hospitalized.
"If the food were contaminated and you were to touch it and not wash your hands and get it into your system, then yeah, you could contract it," Hughes said. "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."
You can take precautions, such as not feeding your pet in the kitchen, and using specific utensils just for pet food.
Once Randy Neppl learned about the potential health problems with contaminated dog food, she 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.
As for those who might try to get around the problem by making their own pet food, veterinarians say that could actually harm your animals because store-bought versions are fortified with special nutrients for dogs and cats.
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