by Gigi McWhirter (well, I didn’t slime you…)
Have you ever noticed a slimy almost icky feeling substance on your pets’ feeding or watering dishes? That slime is called bacterial biofilm.
Biofilm can adhere to almost any material including ceramic, glass, stainless steel and plastic. It can be colorless or come in a rainbow coalition of colors like pink, red, purple, black, brown, orange, green and yellow.
It can also put off a really bad odor that only pets with a keen sense of smell can detect.
Biofilm acts as a carrier for bacteria. Some bacteria can affect animals and humans and may be potentially life-threatening if ingested or inhaled.
Examples of harmful bacteria include:
- Serratia marcescens the fancy name for the pink film you see in wet areas like an animal’s food or water container, your shower or shower curtain.
- E. coli.
- Candida albicans.
- Clostridium difficile (C-diff), a growing epidemic and most common cause of human GI infections.
- Helicobacter pylori (H-pylori,) which has been known to cause ulcers and gastritis in humans.
- Staph infections.
The American Veterinary Medical Association also notes that certain bacteria that forms in biofilm can potentially cause dental/periodontal disease, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and systemic diseases.
Any animal with a bowl or any other container that can hold food or water is at risk — rodents, reptiles, cats, dogs, birds, horses, etc. can fall prey to biofilm related illnesses.
Cleaning your animals’ hard toys, feeding and water bowls daily with safe products is essential to good health. Washing them in hot, soapy water or your dishwasher on high heat for sterilization will help.
Vinegar can be used as a safe alternative to soap. Be especially careful not to scratch the surface of the items being cleaned.
It is recommended that food and water be offered in hard-to-scratch containers like stainless, lead-safe glass or ceramic bowls. Talk to your veterinarian or tack supply store about options for livestock and poultry.
Avoid plastic because it is easy to scratch and is naturally porous, which makes it able to hold on to biofilm bacteria.
Remember to remind everyone to always wash their hands and to not touch their face after handling potentially slimed surfaces.
Always consult with your pet’s veterinarian or your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about this or other health concerns.
Happy Tails to You!