Avoid the Dangers of Raw Pet Food

Compared to other types of pet food, raw pet food is more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as  Salmonella and  Listeria monocytogenes.

Salmonella bacteria cause the disease salmonellosis, and L. monocytogenes bacteria cause the disease listeriosis. People and animals can get both diseases by eating food contaminated with the harmful bacteria. That’s why salmonellosis and listeriosis are called “foodborne” illnesses — the bacteria are carried, or “borne,” in or on contaminated food.
People can also get both salmonellosis and listeriosis by handling contaminated food, such as contaminated raw pet food, or touching contaminated surfaces and utensils and accidentally transferring the bacteria from their hands to their mouths.
Some animals can carry Salmonella and L. monocytogenes  without showing signs of being sick. Some animals, such as amphibians, reptiles, cattle and chickens, can have Salmonella in their bodies or in their habitats. After handling a live animal or touching an object in its habitat, people can get salmonellosis by accidentally transferring the bacteria from their hands to their mouths.
Food products made from animals, such as raw meat and poultry, can be sources of Salmonella and L. monocytogenes infection.
Symptoms of salmonellosis in people include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Symptoms start 12 hours to three days after a person ingests the bacteria.
Most people recover from salmonellosis in four to seven days without treatment, but some groups are at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms.
These high-risk groups are:
  • Children under five
  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems (such as those with cancer or other diseases)
Compared to salmonellosis and other foodborne illnesses, listeriosis is rare but very serious with a high mortality rate of 20% to 30%.
L. monocytogenes  can invade many places in the body, including the brain, membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (called the meninges), digestive tract (the stomach and intestines) and bloodstream. Symptoms vary depending on the body site, or sites, affected.
Listeriosis occurs almost exclusively in:
  • Pregnant women and their fetuses
  • Newborns
  • The elderly
  • People with weakened immune systems (such as those with cancer or other diseases) Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and life-threatening infection of the newborn. Newborns suffer the most serious consequences of listeriosis, including pneumonia or respiratory distress, a blood infection and meningitis.
To prevent infecting  yourself or other people in your household with Salmonella and L. monocytogenes, it’s best if you don’t feed your pet a raw diet.
If you choose to feed raw pet food to your pet, here are some tips to prevent infection:
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
  • Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
  • Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
  • Keep raw food separate from other food.
  • Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely. • If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
  • Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face. No matter what type of pet food you feed your pet, you should always follow these the safe handling instructions below.
Pet food and treats, like many other types of food, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonellosis and listeriosis. Pet owners should be mindful of the potential risks. You can lower your risk of getting a foodborne illness from contaminated pet food and treats by following these simple and safe handling instructions:
Tips for Buying Pet Food
Buy pet food products (cans, pouches or bags) that are in good condition. Check the packaging for visible signs of damage, such as dents, tears and discolorations.
Tips for Preparing Pet Food
  • Begin and end with clean hands. Both before and after handling pet food and treats, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
  • Wash pet food bowls and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
  • Do not use your pet’s food bowl as a scooping utensil. Use a clean scoop, spoon or cup instead. Use the scooping utensil only for scooping pet food.
  • Throw out old or spoiled pet food in a safe way, for example, by placing it in a securely tied plastic bag in a covered trash can.
Tips for Storing Pet Food
  • Promptly refrigerate or throw out unused or leftover canned and pouched pet food. Tightly cover refrigerated pet food.
  • Store dry pet food in a cool and dry place.
  • Store dry pet food in its original bag and keep the top of the bag tightly folded down.
  • Keep pet food in a secure location to prevent your pet from eating an entire supply at once.
thinks that raw pet food poses significant health risks to pets and pet owners. Because raw pet food is more likely than other types of pet food to contain Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, the single best thing you can do to prevent infection with these foodborne bacteria is to not feed your pet a raw diet. However, we understand that some people prefer to feed raw pet food diets to their pets. If you choose to feed raw pet food, you should be aware of the risks.
From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary


80,000 Pounds of Pet Food Donated

Toronto Humane Society received nearly 375,000 pet food meals in mid-September — the largest pet food donation the animal welfare organization has received in a single day. On Sept. 14, 2017, two semi-tractor trailers full of pet food from PetSmart’s  Buy a Bag, Give a Meal  program rolled up to the River Street shelter’s loading dock on Old Brewery Lane.

How does the Toronto Humane Society plan to use 80,000 pounds of pet food? It’s estimated that the City of Toronto is home to at least 1.7 million pets. Consider that almost 25% of Torontonians live at or below the poverty line and you’ll find that more than 400,000 pets in this city could be living in households where families may struggle to put food on their tables and in their pets’ bowls.

That’s why Toronto Humane Society operates a pet food bank out of their River Street location, providing free pet food to those looking for help feeding their furry family members. Toronto Humane Society also hands out pet food to pet parents in need at the St. James Town Community Centre on the second Thursday of each month. Together PetSmart, PetSmart Charities of Canada and the Toronto Humane Society are helping to ensure no pet goes hungry in the City of Toronto.

If you are a pet parent in need of assistance feeding your pet, please visit the Toronto Humane Society during normal operating hours or visit the St. James Town Community Centre on the second Thursday of every month from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

For every bag of dog or cat food purchased in-store or online at www.PetSmart.ca through Dec. 31, 2017, PetSmart will donate a meal to a pet in need.

Are You Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Sleeping With Your Dog?

Let sleeping dogs lie … in the bedroom. That’s according to a new Mayo Clinic study that’s sure to set many tails wagging. It’s no secret that Americans love their dogs. According to the American Veterinary Association, more than 40 million American households have dogs. Of these households, 63% consider their canine companions to be family. Still, many draw the line at having their furry family members sleep with them for fear of sacrificing sleep quality.
“Most people assume having pets in the bedroom is a disruption,” says Lois Krahn, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine on Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus and an author of the study. “We found that many people actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets.” The study, “The Effect of Dogs on Human Sleep in the Home Sleep Environment,” evaluated the sleep of 40 healthy adults without sleep disorders and their dogs over five months. Participants and their dogs wore activity trackers to track their sleeping habits for seven nights. According to the study, sleeping with dogs helps some people sleep better — no matter if they’re snoozing with a small schnauzer or dozing with a Great Dane. There is one caveat, however. Don’t let your canines crawl under the covers with you. The sleep benefit extends only to having dogs in your bedroom — not in your bed. According to the study, adults who snuggled up to their pups in bed sacrificed quality sleep. “The relationship between people and their pets has changed over time, which is likely why many people in fact do sleep with their pets in the bedroom,” says Dr. Krahn. “Today, many pet owners are away from their pets for much of the day, so they want to maximize their time with them when they are home. Having them in the bedroom at night is an easy way to do that. And, now, pet owners can find comfort knowing it won’t negatively impact their sleep.” So, go ahead. Turn your sheepdog into a sleep dog. Just make sure they are relegated to their own bark-o-lounger, rather than your bed. The study, which was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, was funded by Mayo Clinic.

Dog Walkers Motivated By Happiness, Not Health

It appears to be a case of “do what makes you happy” for people who regularly walk their dogs. According to new University of Liverpool research, owners are motivated to go dog walking because it makes them feel happy, not because of other health and social benefits. In the most in-depth study of dog owners’ perceptions of dog walking to date, 26 interviews were combined with personal written reflections of dog walking experiences.

The researchers found that while owners may say the reason they go walking is to benefit the dog, the importance of their own improved happiness and wellbeing is clear. These feelings of happiness, however, are contingent on the owner believing that their dog is enjoying the walk too. Anything that threatens this, such as behaviour problems, a perception that they have a lazy dog or their dog is too old, reduces their motivation to walk. Increased physical activity and social interactions with other dog owners were found to be secondary bonuses but were rarely motivating. Study lead Dr. Carri Westgarth, a research fellow at the University of Liverpool, said: “The factors that motivate dog walking are extremely complex, yet we know they can strongly motivate human health behaviour. “It is crucial to understand why owners walk their dogs if we are to be able to effectively promote owners to walk their dogs more.” With more than eight million dogs in households across the U.K., dog walking is a popular everyday activity. Dog owners are generally more physically active than non-owners, yet some rarely walk with their dog at all. An owner briskly walking their dog for at least 30 minutes each day easily exceeds the 150 minutes recommended minimum physical activity per week. If all dog owners did this, it would dramatically boost population levels of physical activity.

Dr. Westgarth added: “It’s clear from our findings that dog walking is used to meet the emotional needs of the owner as well as the needs of the dog. This may explain why pilot dog walking interventions with messages focused on health or social benefits have not been particularly successful. “Possible key points for future interventions to increase dog walking are to promote how it may increase the dogs, and thus the owner’s, happiness.” The research was funded by a Medical Research Council Population Health Scientist Fellowship and conducted as a collaboration between the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health and Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, with support from the University of Roehampton.

The paper “I Walk My Dog Because It Makes Me Happy: A Qualitative Study to Understand Why Dogs Motivate Walking and Improved Health” is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The Ontario SPCA and Redemption Dogs Rescue Houston Dogs After Hurricane

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is supporting

Toronto-based Redemption Dogs to rescue dogs displaced in Houston by Hurricane Harvey.
Redemption Dogs is an umbrella canine advocacy group that oversees Redemption Paws, a not-for-profit that helps animal shelters in the aftermath of natural disasters. Eight volunteers made the drive to Texas and transferred over 35 dogs to Ontario to assist Houstonbased shelters struggling to care for dogs that had been waiting to be adopted prior to the decimation caused by the hurricane. With the assistance of the Welland & District SPCA, the dogs crossed the border into Ontario on September 11, 2017.
The dogs being brought to Canada range from Chihuahuas and Great Danes, to Dalmatians and mixed-breeds. Some of the dogs have disabilities and needed compassionate homes. All of the dogs coming to Canada went through Hurricane Harvey while housed in shelters, or were relinquished by their owners after the hurricane.

The dogs were undergoing veterinary checks at press time, and any necessary medical treatments, including being spayed or neutered, were to be performed before they would be ready for adoption.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of the community, the volunteers who used their vacation time to go retrieve the dogs or without the Ontario SPCA support to help manage such a large number of dogs,” says Nicole Simone, Founder of Redemption Dogs, Director at Redemption Paws.

Having spent time in Houston and being acquainted with their rescue community, it was clear that Houston had a stray dog problem long before Harvey came along. With more and more catastrophic events as a result of climate change, it is important that animals in need are taken into consideration as part of existing local rescue efforts.

Once they are ready to find loving homes, the dogs will be available for adoption through Redemption Dogs.

To donate to the care of these dogs, please visit ontariospca.ca, wellandspca.com or gths.ca.