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We love our pets, and like any good paw-rent, you’d want the best for your animal companions. From premium pet food to showering them with new toys, there’s no limit to your affection. But did you know you could be unwittingly harming them with every meal?

According to experts from the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, you should be washing your pet’s food bowl after every meal with hot, soapy water.

When pets eat directly out of the bowl, they can transfer microbes and bacteria to the bowl from their mouths. The bacteria can then grow and spread each time you add more food into the bowl, contaminating it.

“What kind of bacteria grow in the bowls depends on factors like the environment, exposure and oral hygiene of the animal, but possible examples include Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacteria and, less frequently, Salmonella and Pseudomonas,” says the FDA. These diseases and microbes can even be potentially dangerous to humans – including the elderly and even young children – so keep all bowls out of the reach of tiny hands.

Water bowls should also be washed every couple of days, and you can even put your pet’s food bowls into the dishwasher with your other dishes. Simply ensure all food scrapes are cleared off (as this is where bacteria lives) and you can even use bleach (in a ratio of one tablespoon of bleach to 4L of water) to sanitise the surfaces. By keeping your pet’s food and water bowl clean and free of bacteria, you create a safer space for your whole family.

Text: Amber Elias / Now To Love