2022 journal article

Survey evaluation of dog owners' feeding practices and dog bowls' hygiene assessment in domestic settings

PLOS ONE, 17(4).

By: E. Luisana n, K. Saker n, L. Jaykus n & C. Getty n

co-author countries: United States of America 🇺🇸
MeSH headings : Animals; Dogs; Food Contamination / prevention & control; Food Handling; Humans; Hygiene; Pets; Surveys and Questionnaires; Water
Source: Web Of Science
Added: July 5, 2022

In-home pet food handling and food dish hygiene practices can have adverse health impacts for both humans and pets. Safe food and dish handling guidelines are not easily evidenced for pet owners. The study was designed to investigate dog owners' feeding habits and evaluate the impact of the Food and Drug Association (FDA) hygiene protocols on dog food dish contamination. Procedures and surveys were approved by North Carolina State University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Institutional Review Board. Pet feeding and food dish hygiene data were collected from 417 dog owner surveys and 68 food dish swabs. Total aerobic plate counts (APC) were performed on 68 dishes and randomly assigned into Group A (FDA pet food handling and dish hygiene guidelines), Group B (FDA pet and human food handling and dish hygiene guidelines), or Group C (no guidelines). Hygiene protocols were instituted in-home for 1 week, followed by a second APC and follow-up survey. Survey from dog owners-households indicated: 4.7% were aware of FDA pet food handling and dish hygiene guidelines; 36% have individuals ≤ 13 years old and/or immunocompromised; 43% stored dog food 0-5 feet from human food; 34% washed their hands after feeding; and 33% prepared their dog food on human food preparation surfaces. The hygiene protocols followed by Groups A and B resulted in significant decreases in food dish APC (p<0.001; 1.4; (0.9, 2.0); p<0.05; 0.604 (0.02, 1.2), respectively), as compared to Group C (p≥0.05). Hot water (>160° F or 71.1°C) washing decreased APC (p<0.01; 1.5 (0.4, 2.6)) over cold/lukewarm water. In the follow-up survey, 8% of Group A and B respondents reported likely to adhere to protocols long-term. This study suggests a need for pet food handling and dish hygiene guideline education to minimize bacterial contamination of dishes, especially for high-risk populations.