Tag Archives: salmonella

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

The scoop on poop

I took a course once about personal effectiveness and one of the mantras in it was ‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’   The same holds true when cleaning up after our dogs.

Back in July, I posted my column about the public relations nightmare of unscooped poop.   This column is about the disposal methods that are and are not acceptable for your dog’s poo.

The nasty things in dog poop

A dog’s poop can transmit bacteria like salmonella (and some studies show that there is an increased risk of this when the dog is fed a raw diet).  Parasites like tapeworm, hookworm and roundworms can also live in the feces and exist in the soil for a long time.  Other diseases like distemper or parvovirus can be transmitted through exposure to feces from an infected dog.

Don’t compost or bury

Therefore, adding dog poop to your household compost is not recommended.   The temperature in the compost heap is unlikely to reach a high enough temperature and you can end up transmitting the bugs to you and your family by handling the compost or adding it to the vegetable garden.  Yuck!

Simply burying the poop doesn’t help either.  You are basically allowing any of the bacteria and other nasties to live in the soil environment.

Local authorities with kerbside recycling programmes also ask that you don’t add dog poop to your ‘green’ (garden waste/organics) bin.  This is a public health issue since most materials from organic collections are composted and then re-distributed back to communities as compost for landscaping and gardens.

Don’t place it in the storm sewer

Some owners think it is okay to place poo in the gutter or storm sewer.  It isn’t.  Stormwater drains are directed to open water systems in the natural environment.  The poo will get washed into local streams and rivers and it is just another way of potentially contaminating the environment.

The better options

  • One of the popular methods of cleaning up after your dog is to scoop it up in a plastic bag and dump it in the rubbish.  The advantages with this method are that plastic bags are often freely available and it is a way of recycling the bag for another use.  This method prevents water pollution and can help control the spread of the nasty bugs.  However, plastic doesn’t decompose easily and many owners don’t want to add to the landfill problems in their area.
  • This leads us to biodegradable bags like Flush Puppy bags.  These bags can be safely disposed of in the rubbish or you can flush them down the toilet as long as you are connected to a public sewer system.  For homes on private septic systems, this isn’t recommended because this is an increased load that can overwhelm your disposal system.
  • If bags are not your thing, you can carry a shovel or other type of pooper scooper and wrap the poop in newspaper.  Disposal in the rubbish is okay and both the newspaper and poop will degrade.
  • If you really want to get fancy, you can buy your own composter for dog poop.  One brand is the Doggy Dooley.  This bin is dug into the ground and then special enzymes are added to help break down the waste.

The Doggy Dooley pet waste composter

  • Special bins for worm composting may also work on dog poop.  It is best to contact local services in your area about the types of worms available and the types of bins available for this.

Please put poop in its proper place by disposing of your dog’s poo appropriately.

Here we go again – pet food recalls in USA

This time, the cause of concern is salmonella contamination.   Salmonella is a zoonotic infection, meaning it can be transferred to humans too.

Salmonella infection in dogs causes gastroenteritis, septicemia, and spontaneous abortions.  Humans usually experience vomiting, diarrhea and fevers.  It’s not pleasant.

The best prevention is to wash surfaces in the kitchen after feeding your dog and to ensure you wash your hands after handling pet foods.

The brands currently under recall are:

Solid Gold Health Products for Pets, Inc.

  • Solid Gold WolfCub Large Breed Puppy Food
  • Solid Gold WolfKing Large Breed Adult Dog Food

Wellpet LLC

  • Wellness Complete Health Super5mix Large Breed Puppy

Canidae Pet Foods

  • Canidae Dog, All Life Stages
  • Canidae Dog, Chicken Meal & Rice
  • Canidae Dog, Lamb Meal & Rice
  • Canidae Dog, Platinum

Apex Pet Foods

  • Apex Chicken and Rice Dog, 20lb and 40lb bags

Natural Balance Pet Foods

  • Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Venison Dog
  • Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog
  • Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Bison Dog
  • Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog
  • Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog Large Breed Bites
  • Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog Small Breed Bites
  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild

The Kirkland Signature products included in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Cat Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Formula for Dogs

It’s hard to know if some of these foods are available in New Zealand (Canidae definitely is) because some foods are imported in smaller quantities.  If you are feeding one of these foods, stop immediately and check with your supplier for more details on the recall.

This website from the FDA gives all the latest information on pet food recalls.