By LuAnn McLain
A public health warning was recently issued regarding chew treats for dogs. Rawhide chews are often contaminated with salmonella. According to the report, dogs are not endangered by this but humans are. Pigs ears are the worst. Animals with health problems or weakened immune systems might be endangered by salmonella.
Salmonella is a form of food poisoning which has been on the increase among the human population of this country. Chicken and turkey products are very common sources but any raw meat must be handled carefully due to the presence of either salmonella or other dangerous bacteria.
Why is salmonella dangerous? It causes infection in the gastrointestinal track. It is associated with possible nausea and vomiting but especially with diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Often what people believe to be the flu is a case of salmonella poisoning. It can cause a human to be seriously ill.
Based on this information, we need to be careful when handling dog chews. Anytime after handling a chew, we need to thoroughly wash our hands in soap and water. This will help prevent contamination to ourselves or from being passed on to objects handled.
Children need to be instructed to wash hands, too, after handling a dogs chew.
Major sources of salmonella include raw meats and eggs. Now it appears we must add chews to the list.
To prevent illness from this bacteria follow safe food handling practices. It is important to cook foods thoroughly. Any surfaces and utensils used in handling the raw substance, whether meat, eggs, or dog chews, need to be washed thoroughly in hot soapy water. Never cut up vegetables on a surface after cutting or preparing any potentially contaminated item. A bleach solution is very reliable in purifying a surface and is required for a wood cutting board used for raw meat.
Meats for humans need to be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 170 degrees. Chicken and turkey need to be cooked to 180 or 185 degrees. Boil eggs for at least seven minutes, poach for five minutes, or fry for three minutes on each side.
Thaw frozen raw meat in the refrigerator to protect yourself from possible growth of bacteria. Salmonella and other bacteria increase rapidly at room temperature.
Washing the hands is especially important. Dry hands on a clean paper towel or freshly laundered towel. The kitchen is a place where bacteria can easily be passed on and moved around, contaminating many surfaces.
Sponges should be sterilized every couple of days for a minute in the microwave or in the dishwasher. Towels and rags should be laundered in hot water.
Another possible source of salmonella is reptiles, especially turtles. Care while handling and immediate washing of hands after handling these animals is very important.
Some of our pets might be susceptible to salmonella infection. Since there are thousands of different strains, a pet might encounter a strain to which he has no resistance.
Symptoms in our pets may occur from six to 72 hours after the pet has eaten the salmonella. High fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and weakness are the main symptoms of the illness. A pet that becomes ill this way will need veterinary attention.
Have a safe and healthy week with your companion animals. If you would like to write to Pawsitively Pets, please send your letter to PO Box 1731, Havre, MT 59501.