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Posted Aug 22 2010 12:00am
Considering some of the pet food product recalls due to possible Salmonella contamination in the last few weeks, Helpful Buckeye told our readers last week that there would be a detailed update on this topic very soon.  Well, soon is right now!  More on Salmonella later in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats

Thanks again for all the e-mails and comments on the recent 2-part article on snake bites.  Who would have thought it would have prompted that much response?  It just goes to show never know!

About half of our respondents feel they are now able to handle a snake bite situation involving their pet...and that's great.  Only 10% of you work in a business that allows employees to bring their dogs to work.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


The only item of relevant news this week is another notice of a pet food product recall due to possible Salmonella contamination.  As reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Merrick Pet Care, Inc. has even further extended it previous recall to include include "ALL LOTS of its 10-ounce bags of "Beef Filet Squares" for Dogs and "Texas Hold’em" pet treats."

Products affected:

Beef Filet Squares for Dogs, Item #60016, all lots

Texas Hold’ems pet treats, Item #60016, all lots

Merrick Pet Care, Inc. has recalled a total of 169 cases of its 10 oz. Beef Filet Squares for Dogs pet treats because of the risk that the product is contaminated with Salmonella. No illnesses have been reported to date. Consumers can return the unused portions of this product for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-664-7387 M-F 8:00 - 5:00 (Central).

This is not necessarily an indictment of the folks at Merrick, but rather an informative update for pet owners of current concerns surrounding the ramifications pertaining to Salmonella contamination affecting both humans and their pets.


There's been a lot of media coverage lately on pet food recalls due to possible or confirmed Salmonella contamination. In addition, a manuscript recently published in the journal Pediatrics reported on 79 cases of human Salmonella infection from 2006-2008 associated with contaminated dry dog and cat food – this is the first report of human illnesses linked to dry pet foods.
Salmonella are bacteria. The Salmonella consist of a range of very closely related bacteria, many of which cause disease in humans and animals.   Salmonella enterica is a group of bacteria including Salmonella typhi (which is the cause of typhoid fever) and Salmonella enteriditis (this current form of intestinal infection).  In the last 20 years or so, S. Enteritidis has become the single most common cause of food poisoning in the United States. S. Enteritidis is particularly adept at infecting chicken flocks without causing visible disease, and spreading from hen to hen rapidly. Many people have blamed the recent increase in the rise of S. Enteritidis infections on the use of mass production chicken farms. When tens or hundreds of thousands of chickens live together, die together, and are processed together a Salmonella infection can rapidly spread throughout the whole food chain. A compounding factor is that chickens from a single farm may be distributed over many cities, and even states, and hence Salmonella infections can be rapidly dispersed through millions of people.

Helpful Buckeye is not trying to make bacteriologists out of all our readers but this summary gives you a little background on the causative agent behind this current new story.  Below are answers to the questions the AVMA has received about this issue.

Q:Why does it seem there are more foods being recalled recently due to Salmonella? Does this mean that pet foods aren't safe?

A:There are several potential reasons for this. One potential reason is that the large-scale, melamine-related pet food recall of 2007 increased public and media awareness of and sensitivity to pet food safety concerns. Another potential reason is the increased vigilance of the manufacturers and the federal government regarding Salmonella and other public health concerns, leading to increased surveillance and reporting. A third, and very important, potential reason is the recent launch of an early detection reporting system – the Reportable Food Registry – that requires and allows immediate reporting of safety problems with food and animal feed (including pet food), instead of relying on inspection to identify problems. According to a July 2010 FDA press release, the registry has been very successful in identifying at-risk foods.

And no, this is not an indication that pet foods are unsafe. Considering that the majority of these recalls have been precautionary and no illnesses have been reported, these recalls may indicate that they are preventing illness by catching the problems earlier.

Q:Are certain types of pet foods more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella?

A:No pet food is immune from the possibility of Salmonella contamination. There is evidence, however, that feeding raw foods, such as raw meat and eggs, increases the risk of Salmonella infection and shedding of the bacteria (leading to possible infection of other animals and of people). Regardless of the type of food you choose to feed your pet, proper precautions should be taken to protect your family's health.

Q:How can pet food become contaminated with Salmonella?

A:Because pet foods and treats contain animal-origin products, they are at risk of contamination with Salmonella, E. coli, and other organisms. In general, these products are cooked to temperatures that will kill these organisms – however, if a contaminated additive (a flavoring, for example) is added to the food after cooking or if the food comes in contact with contaminated materials, the food will be contaminated. There are many safeguards in place to minimize the risk of contamination during the manufacturing process, but using caution when handling these foods is always recommended.

Q:How can pet food infect me or my pet with Salmonella?

A:Salmonella infection, like many other food-borne infections, usually occurs after the bacteria are ingested – this can occur by eating or drinking contaminated products, or by coming into contact with contaminated products and then touching your mouth, face or food. The organism enters your gastrointestinal tract and causes disease.

Q:Are certain people at higher risk of infection with Salmonella from contaminated food?

A:Yes. People whose immune systems are compromised (by chronic disease, drug therapy, cancer, etc.) are at high risk of infection if exposed to Salmonella, as are old and very young people. In the recent study in Pediatrics, almost one-half of the infections occurred in children aged 2 years or younger.

Q:How would I know if my pet had a Salmonella infection?

A:Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have a decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. However, not all pets carrying Salmonella will appear sick. Apparently well but infected animals can be carriers and may infect other animals or humans, particularly through exposure to their feces. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these signs, please contact your veterinarian.

Q:How would I know if I had a Salmonella infection?

A:People infected with Salmonella often develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your physician.

Q:What can I do to prevent getting Salmonella from pet food products or treats?

A:Luckily, common sense measures are effective in minimizing your risk of infection. These measures are particularly important if you feed your pet raw foods of animal origin (eg, raw beef, chicken or eggs), including raw treats such as raw hides and pig ear chews.

• Safe handling of all pet foods and treats
  1. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet food or treats 
  2. Don't allow your children to handle the food; or, if you choose to let them handle the pet food or treats, make sure they thoroughly wash their hands (under your direct supervision) afterwards.
• Do not allow immunocompromised, very young, or elderly people to handle pet food and treats; or, if they handle the products, they should thoroughly wash their hands immediately after handling the products.

• Keep all pet foods and treats away from your family's food.

• Do not prepare pet foods in the same area or with the same equipment/utensils you use to prepare human foods.

• Do not allow pets on countertops or other areas where human food is prepared.

• In the Pediatrics manuscript, feeding pets in the kitchen was identified as an important source of infection. If it is possible for you to feed your pet in an area other than your kitchen, you may wish to consider doing so. If it is not an option, or if you choose to feed your pet in the kitchen, feed your pet as far away from human food preparation areas as possible and follow the other guidelines above.

The AVMA in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, is also releasing this instructive information for those of you who have reptiles (snakes, turtles, lizards) and/or amphibians (frogs, salamanders) as pets.  This doesn't mean amphibian and reptile owners should get rid of their pets. What it does mean is that amphibian and reptile owners should take precautions to protect themselves and their families. Simple, common sense measures can significantly reduce your risk of amphibian- or reptile-associated Salmonella infection.  If you have any contact with a reptile or amphibian, read the whole report at:  
Amidst all the news stories about the hundreds of millions of eggs being recalled due the possibility of Salmonella contamination, our readers will now have a better understanding of a Salmonella infection...for them and/or their pets.  And, now that you understand the concerns about Salmonella, your next decision may be whether or not to combine these 2 images


Dog lovers, beware: Taking man's best friend for a ride could be risky.

Nearly 60% of dog owners have driven while distracted by their pets as passengers, according to a new survey by auto club AAA. Only 17% — about one in six — ever use animal restraints, which can prevent pets from being a distraction and protect them and other occupants in a crash, the survey finds.

In crashes, unrestrained dogs pose an unintended threat to the driver and other passengers, says Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, manager of traffic safety programs at AAA.

So says Larry Copeland, writer for USA Today, in a recent article:   

The article finishes with the question, "Where does Fido sit in your car?"  How you answer the question may determine whether or not you'll be involved in an accident due to your dog not being properly restrained.  Some pet restraint products are available at:  
Statistics about dog-related distractions aren't available, but news reports highlight the risks:
- In June 2009, two people were killed in a head-on collision when a dog jumped in his owner's lap, causing him to veer his motor home into oncoming traffic.

- In April 2010, a Minnesota man lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a utility pole when his dog started vomiting on him.

- Horror author Stephen King was badly injured in 1999 while walking along the shoulder of a road in Maine, when he was hit by a minivan whose driver was trying to control an unrestrained Rottweiler.


Sometimes Helpful Buckeye sees no new or interesting pet products on the market.  Other times, there are too many to list here.  This week is one of those "too many", here is a sampling of what's available.

1) This is actually a product for humans (kids) but you'll see the connection:   This one is the dog and there is a cat also.

2) Anything with a name like "Fun Ball" has to be worth the price of admission, right?  Check it out at:  

3) Some dogs seem to leave hair everywhere.  Take a look at Yowza, from Bissell, as demonstrated in this video:  

4) The ASPCA Store announces some good "Summer Fun!" sales on their web site:  


1) Have any of you ever wanted to offer your dog something cool and refreshing during these "dog days" of late summer?  Here's an idea that might appeal to you (and your pooch):   Click on the video....
It only requires a banana, some orange juice, and some yogurt...sounds good to me!

2) The town council of a small city in England has decided to do something "different" to make dog owners clean up after their pets.  A town employee goes around the area spray-painting a bright green color on piles of dog droppings in order to call attention to their problem. City officials seem to think it is working:

3) Maru The Cat seems to be all the rage in Japan...for his joy of jumping in and out of boxes.  Watch this video and see if you are enthralled:  

4) The ASPCA is putting together their calendar for 2011 and is offering pet lovers the chance to vote on 4 finalists to choose which will appear on the cover of the calendar.  You need to vote by September 3rd, so go to:   and cast your vote.  Helpful Buckeye is supporting Daisy....

Nothing new this week.  The Steelers won another meaningless pre-season game by beating the team with the much less obnoxious Manning.  The Cardinals play Monday night.


Helpful Buckeye has come up with the unofficial Quadathlon of northern Arizona, which includes 4 different tests of endurance that are a favorite challenge for local bicyclists and hikers...let's call them the "Crown Jewels" of workouts in the Flagstaff area.  My goal is to get all 4 of these accomplished within 2 months.  The first leg of this event was taken care of 10 days ago by the 56-mile, round trip to Mormon Lake and back.  Weather permitting, the 2nd leg will happen this week.  More on this next week....

H.L. Mencken, noted newspaper writer from Baltimore, wrote that: "A puritan is a person who is haunted by the fear that someone somewhere is having fun."  No doubt, that puritan will be haunted this week when Helpful Buckeye hits the trail....

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~
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