New concerns are surfacing about pig ear treats. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating a few strains of Salmonella suspected to be contaminating pig ear treats and infecting people who handle them. The FDA pig ear alert on July 31 advised dog owners to stop feeding pig ears to their pets completely. To date, the CDC reports 127 cases from 33 states, with 26 people hospitalized. The CDC notes that many of these cases are drug-resistant, although fortunately, no one has died.
Many dog owners feed their dogs pig ear treats to help curb the need to chew. Chewing helps to clean dogs’ teeth, keeps them entertained, and can help them release stress. As a plus, quality pig ear chews don’t contain any artificial ingredients or potential allergens such as wheat, corn, or soy.
What Is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a bacteria that sickens both humans and animals. The CDC says that people infected with Salmonella can develop abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, chills, bloody stool, headache, and fever. Onset after exposure is anywhere from eight to 72 hours, and recovery can take a few days. While the severity varies according to the strain of Salmonella and the general health of the patient, the elderly, the infantile, and the immune-suppressed are highly susceptible. In them, a Salmonella infection (called salmonellosis) can lead to hospitalization and even death.
Contrary to myth, dogs and other animals also develop salmonellosis. The signs include vomiting, bloody stool or diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever. Dogs who develop salmonellosis symptoms should see a veterinarian. In some cases, infected canines may not actually show signs of being sick, but they can still shed the bacteria in their feces and their saliva. Dog owners should always clean up after their pets and scrub their hands after walking them regardless of what kinds of treats and foods they are feeding them.
What Dog Owners Need to Know About Pig Ear Dog Treats
If you have pig ear treats on hand, throw them away immediately in a wrapped, secure container that wild animals can’t access. After, wash your hands thoroughly. Also, make sure to disinfect any surfaces the pig ear treats touched to avoid cross-contamination.
When it comes to any treats, the FDA recommends that you always follow some simple hygiene rules. Don’t let your dog lick you after consuming one, or lick you near your mouth. Don’t allow a half-chewed treat lying around for someone to touch. Monitor your dog while they eat, do not let small children handle them, and sterilize those areas in your home that come into contact with either canine saliva or treats.
What to Do If You Get Sick
If you think you have contracted salmonellosis, see your health care provider for confirmation and treatment. If you believe your dog is displaying symptoms, take them to the vet. If you have a concern about salmonellosis or exposure to Salmonella through a product, you can report it to the FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal. This helps the agency keep track of issues and trace cases back to their origins.