Puppy eating or drinking from human dish
We love our pets and consider them part of the family, but there’s one area in which I think separation is a must: Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always advised against feeding pets and people from the same dishes. I’ll even go so far as to say that I think that pet food and water dishes should be washed separately from the dishes, glassware and silverware used by people. 

That’s because bacteria such as MRSA  (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and leptospira, as well as some internal parasites, can be spread between pets and people. Kitchen hygiene can help keep the microscopic bugs at bay — and is especially important if you and your pets live with young children, seniors or people with compromised immune systems.

I’m not the only one with concerns: Both the FDA and the CDC warn of risks in handling pet food and treats and the potential for humans to get sick from Salmonella-related illnesses — which is why it is important to be careful. 

Keeping Your Kitchen Safe — For Pets and People

Here are some simple tips to prevent cross-contamination and help keep everyone healthy.

Hand washing is key to kitchen safety. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water after handling pets, pet food or treats, and teach your kids to do so as well. Wash your hands after loading pet dishes in the dishwasher. If you feed your pet a homemade diet, wash your hands after handling raw poultry, eggs or meat.

Clean pet dishes after every meal and clean or replace water dishes daily.  Use stainless steel or ceramic dishes for pets; plastic bowls can get scratches or nicks that are breeding grounds for bacteria. And don’t let your pet lick your plate.

Give pet dishes more than just a quick scrub in the sink — which is teeming with bacteria, by the way. Run them through the dishwasher using the high-temperature and sanitize settings. The high temps and washing action do the best job of killing bacteria and removing debris. And after you close and start it, wipe off the handle of the dishwasher, too.

If you do wash pet dishes in the sink, use hot water and clean and disinfect the sink afterward.

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