The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is advising pet parents to discontinue giving their companions any foods that contain peanut butter because of a salmonella outbreak that has led to hundred of products, including dog biscuits, being removed from store shelves across the United States.
"The ASPCA recommends that pet parents discontinue the use of all affected products immediately until further information has been received," ASPCA veterinarian Steven Hansen states in a media release.
The recalled products contain peanut paste and peanut butter made by Peanut Corporation of America. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation has traced the salmonella contamination to the company's plant in Blakely, Georgia.
Healthy adult dogs are relatively resistant to illness from salmonella bacteria, but pets with health issues, puppies and elderly or pregnant dogs that may have weakened immune systems are at greater risk of becoming ill, the ASPCA states.
Dog parents should inspect food and items carefully, advises Dr. Pam Reid of the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center. "Peanut butter is often used in small amounts as an occasional reward for dogs, commonly used in treats and activity toys," she said.
Dr. Louise Murray of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital says salmonella can be passed between humans and pets. "Adult cats are relatively resistant and most dogs infected with the bacterium appear normal, but may pass Salmonella in their feces which can infect people or other susceptible pets," she said. "Therefore it’s essential that pet parents take steps to protect both themselves and their animal companions from exposure."
Dr. Hansen advises pet parents to wash their hands if they believe they have handled any potentially contaminated food. Owners should immediately consult with a veterinarian if their pets show any signs or symptoms, he said.
Dogs who become ill from salmonella may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, and drooling or panting - an indication of nausea, the ASPCA states. Death could result in severe cases. Cats may develop high fever.
Owners who suspect their pet may have ingested a contaminated product also can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.