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Tainted Human Food Makes Dogs Sick

Tim Boyer's picture
Sick dog

The CDC announced recently that 14 cases of human Salmonella poisoning are linked to the handling of recalled pet food by the maker Diamond Pet Foods. Reports thus far list no deaths; however, at least 5 people have been hospitalized. Among the victims are a four-month-old baby and a 74-year-old woman sickened by the recalled dog food.

While tainted dog food products pose a health hazard for pet owners who fail to wash their hands properly after feeding or petting the family dog, sometimes it’s tainted human food that poses a health risk for Fido. Scraps from the kitchen island during meal prep should be given as much caution as if Fido were your child begging for a taste before dinner time.

The following are a few examples of human food that are either potentially tainted or safe for your pet:

Raw bread dough: Unsafe

Raw bread dough has the potential of being both tainted and naturally harmful for your dog. If the dough is made with raw eggs, salmonella poisoning is just as big as a threat for your pooch as it is for your child when giving him or her a taste of raw cookie dough.

Furthermore, even without the raw egg factor, the yeast in uncooked bread dough can cause severe distention of a dog’s stomach and thereby severe pain. Yeast also naturally produces ethanol that can be toxic when absorbed through the stomach and intestine into the blood resulting in excessive acidity and serious health issues. Signs and symptoms of bread dough toxicity include; vomiting, distended abdomen, lethargy, weakness, seizures and loss of balance.

Cooked white rice and pasta: Safe

If you want to give you dog some carbs while preparing the family meal, cooked white rice and pasta are safe and healthy sources. Adding a little cooked chicken broth will enhance the flavor even more and provide some added nutrients.

Raw meat and fish: Unsafe

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Raw meat and raw fish, like raw eggs, can contain salmonella and other harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning. Some fish such as salmon, trout, shad, and sturgeon can contain a parasite that causes "fish disease" or "salmon poisoning disease." Salmon poisoning disease is due to an infection with a parasite called Nanophyetus salmincola, that by itself is harmless, but when co-infected with a rickettsia organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeca result is a lethal combo for dogs.

Cooked meat scraps: Safe

Feeding your dog lean cuts of meat that have had the fat removed and been thoroughly cooked and the bones removed is the safest way to treat Fido to a little of the family’s meat dish.

Some Vegetables: Safe

Raw or undercooked baked potatoes (even small bits) are just as harmful to dogs as they are to humans. If you do not like to eat the skins of a baked potato, they make a delightful treat for dogs—no sour cream though!

For raw vegetables, a healthy snack of carrot sticks, green beans, cucumber slices, or zucchini slices are fine and beneficial for your dog. However, treat your dog like family and be sure to wash raw vegetables thoroughly before tossing a bit to Fido. Bacteria as well as lingering pesticides on the skin can cause health problems.

Some fresh fruits: Safe

Some fruits are a welcome addition to a dog’s diet. Slices of apples, oranges, bananas, and watermelon make tasty treats, but be sure to remove any seeds, stems, and/or leaves that could cause serious problems. Grapes and raisins are a no-no as they can cause kidney failure in dogs.

The take home message to all of this is that in spite of dogs’ general penchant to play the game “Is it food or not food?” while out in the public, dogs can and do get sick from eating things they shouldn’t—including the aforementioned scraps from the kitchen island during meal preparation. When in doubt, don’t give it to your pet. And when there isn’t doubt, treat them as you would a family member.

Reference: Ohio Department of Health