Does Your Kid Like the Pet’s Food?
Most parents of toddlers know they get into anything and everything within their reach. Families with pets have likely experienced the horrifying scene of a child actually eating the pet’s food. As a parent, you are likely concerned about the risks pet food poses to your child, and want some advice on how to stop the snacking. Here’s what you need to know:
Is Eating Pet Food Dangerous?
On the surface, eating pet food is not extremely dangerous to your child, because it contains many of the same types of foods that we eat every day, like vegetables and grains. However, there are some risks involved. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study to determine the cause of several salmonella cases. It was determined that 79 reported cases from 2006 to 2008 were a due to contact with an animal’s food that contained the salmonella virus. “Both direct contact with animals and indirect contact with environments where animals live and roam and other materials associated with animals (tank water, food and water dishes, and cages) can lead to human infections,” said the researchers.
Should I Take My Child To The Doctor?
The continued ingestion of pet food is typically not something that needs to be addressed with your child’s doctor. It is likely just a phase, and not a search for nutrients your child is lacking. Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician, says, “It may smell good and sometimes even look good, so it's no surprise that many kids give dog food a try.”
Other Risks Involved
Besides the gross factor and possible contamination involved in eating a pet’s food, you should also be cautious of your pet’s reaction. Many home pets, especially dogs, are territorial animals. If they feel their food supply is being threatened, they may lash out at a child trying to reach into their food bowl. Food bowls that are left on the floors are also breading grounds for insects and worms, which can crawl into the bowl.
How To Keep Your Child From Grabbing A Bite
Many experts say that the easiest way to prevent your children from eating a pet’s food is to not allow them access to the pet’s food bowl. Feed your pet at a specific time during the day, and only put enough food in the bowl for one sitting. Use a baby gate to prevent your child from accessing the food, or feed your animal when your child is sleeping.
If your children do steal a snack, make sure to thoroughly wash their hands and mouths to prevent cross-contamination.