Millions of people around the world have at least one pet at home.

Studies have shown that there are many health benefits to having a companion animal.

Pets can increase fitness, lower stress and bring happiness to their owners.

Health benefits may include:

• Decreased blood pressure

• Decreased feelings of loneliness

• Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities

• Increased opportunities for socialisation

But did you know that handling your pet’s food could make you sick?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says dry and canned pet food can be contaminated with germs that can make you and your family sick.

Here are tips to stay safe while feeding your pet:

• Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling pet food or treats.

• Store pet food and treats away from where human food it stored and prepared.

• Keep pet food and treats away from small children.

• Don’t use your pets’ feeding bowls to scoop food. Use a dedicated cup or scoop.

The CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets.

Salmonella and listeria bacteria have been found in raw diet pet food, including packaged ones found in pet stores. – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service