Tag Archives: MRSA

Your dog’s water bowl: microbiology

This research was delivered to the 69th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science meeting in August 2018.

It’s important to clean your dog’s water bowl regularly – don’t be tempted to simply keep filling it up because bacteria grows on the sides of the bowl.  (Run your finger over it and you’ll probably feel a slippery surface – that’s called biofilm)

I personally like stainless steel bowls because they can be washed in very hot water in the dishwasher and because they are durable and recyclable.

Dog water bowl


The number of pet dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in the common household is continually rising. The increasingly close contact between humans and cohabitant pets is leading to concerns regarding bacterial transmission of zoonoses. The dog water bowl has been identified as the third most contaminated item within the household, suggesting that it is able to act as a fomite for bacterial transmission, particularly where young or immunocompromised individuals are present.

Studies in livestock have identified that water trough construction material influences bacterial count; however no similar research has been conducted for dog water bowls.

The objectives of the current study were to identify which dog bowl material, plastic, ceramic or stainless steel, harbours the most bacteria over a 14 day period and whether the species identified varies between bowl materials. The study took place over 6 weeks. A sample of 6, medium sized (10-25kg) dogs, aged 2-7 (mean= 3.8 ± 1.95), was used. All dogs were clinically healthy, housed individually and located within a rural environment. All bowls were purchased brand new and sterilised prior to a two week sampling period.

On day 0, day 7 and day 14 swabs were taken from each bowl and 10-fold serial dilutions were conducted on blood agar. The cultured bacteria were subjected to biochemical testing and the most prominent bacteria from day 14 were further identified using PCR. A significant difference was identified for all bowl materials when comparing total CFU/ml between day 0 and day 7 and day 0 and day 14 (p<0.05). No significant difference was identified between total CFU/ml and bowl material (P>0.05), however descriptive statistics suggest that the plastic bowl material maintains the highest bacterial count after 14 days.

Several medically important bacteria were identified from the bowls, including MRSA and Salmonella, with the majority of species being identified from the ceramic bowl. This could suggest that harmful bacteria may be able to develop biofilms more successfully on ceramic materials. Further research is required to identify the most suitable or alternative materials for dog water bowls.

Source: Microbiological Assessment of Canine Drinking Water and the Impact of Bowl Construction Material

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Bully sticks – a source of calories and bacteria

Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the University of Guelph have some news for you about bully sticks.

Photo courtesy of Tufts University

Photo courtesy of Tufts University

The research team analysed the treats for caloric density and bacterial contamination and they asked owners about their knowledge of the treats through a survey.

The sample size in the study was 26 bully sticks, purchased from different places in the United States and Canada.

The bully sticks contained between nine and 22 calories per inch, meaning that the average sized stick packed 88 calories or 9 percent of the daily caloric requirements of a 5o pound (22.7 kg) dog or 30 percent of the requirement for a 10 pound (4.5 kg) dog.

‘With obesity in pets on the rise, it is important for pet owners to factor in not only their dog’s food, but also treats and table food,’ said Lisa M Freeman, Professor of Nutrition.

The 26 treats were also tested for bacterial contamination.  One (4%) was contaminated with Clostridium difficile, one (4%) contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and seven (27%) were contaminated with Escherichia coli including one sample that was resistant to treatment with tetracycline.

Although the sample size in this project was small, the researchers advise all pet owners to wash their hands after touching treats.  The risk could be higher for the very young, elderly, pregnant or immuno-compromised dog owners.  They acknowledge that research on a larger sample size is also needed.

The survey portion of the study showed that many dog owners are not aware of the ingredients in their dog’s treats, with many demonstrating ignorance of the definition of a ‘by-product.’

The results of the study have been published in the January 2013 issue of the Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Source:  Tufts Now media statement