Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why Toddlers and Pet Food Shouldn't Mix

Hannah's latest obsession is our cat Booyah. When he's not visible, she forces him into an involuntary game of hide and seek. She crawls up to him to give him pats, she tries to follow him into his litter box and of course, she has become interested in his food too.

We live in 745 square feet of fun. This means (now that she's mobile) Hannah pretty much has access to everything Booyah does.

I believe that supervision is the number one way for kids of all ages to stay safe. When Hannah reached her tiny hand into Booyah's food dish I was right there to quickly move her away, resulting in the worst temper tantrum she's had yet. And then I wondered, how bad would it be if she did consume some of his food?

The number one concern with human consumption of pet food is Salmonella.

IAMS connected me with Dr. Amy Dickie, a veterinarian. She provided the following information (As a veterinarian she can't comment directly on the affects of pet food ingestion on humans, as she deals with the digestive systems of pets and they are very different from ours).

Even though there is a low risk of exposure to Salmonella through pet food there are some very simple things people can do to protect themselves and their families from the possibility. (Can food exposure is highly improbable as the food is cooked in the sealed container and exposure to the environment is controlled – until opened.)

Safe handling of pet food and treats include:

  • First and foremost thoroughly washing your hands right after handling pet food or treats and especially before preparing or eating food or drinks. 
  • Immunocompromised, very young or elderly people should not be handling pet food products. If they do, thorough hand-washing should be practiced. Adults should help young children wash hands. 
  • Keep pet food and treats away from human food and do not prepare pet food in areas where human food it prepared. 
  • Pets should not be fed in the kitchen to help reduce the chances of cross-contamination from pet foods to human food. Young children should be kept away from pet feeding areas. Cat feeding stations may need to be elevated higher than young children can reach. Specific feeding times may be beneficial, so that feeding can be supervised and bowls immediately removed and cleaned.
Booyah is usually fed dry food, and his dishes are in the dining room. Occasionally he will get wet food as a "treat" and that dish is always removed from the floor as soon as he is finished. On the recommendation of Dr. Dickie, Chris and I are working on an elevated feeding station for him too.

How do you keep your kids away from your pet's food?

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events. The opinions on this blog are my own.  

© 2013 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.


  1. This is tough -- trying to keep kids away from pet food as it apparently is very enticing for toddlers to play with (including my son!)

    We keep food in a child proof container (big plastic storage bin as our dog has dry food most of the time), and put the water bowl near where our dog hangs out most of the day (by her bed).

    Our toddler tries to help (or rather forces us to let him scoop the food into the bowl) at meal time and right after he's done that we take him to the washroom to wash his hands. It's become a routine now so he knows where to go as soon as he's done feeding the dog.

  2. Great tips! Kids love to get into everything and growing up our cat always ate in the kitchen. Kids are begging for a pet so I'm glad I have this knowledge!

  3. Really interesting tips. My toddlers only like to put pet food down the vents in the house - haven't tried to eat it yet. Now, if I could get my cat to stop eating the dog food and vice versa, then we'd be all set!

  4. Victoria Ess5/01/2013

    I hadn't thought of that problem -- We don't have a pet.


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