E. coli can make your pets sick

E. coli is a bacteria that often makes people sick and sometimes can be fatal.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- E. coli is a bacteria that often makes people sick and sometimes can be fatal.

Your dogs can also become ill from E. coli, and it can spread from humans to your pets.

We talked to a veterinarian to find out what you can do to keep yourself and your animal safe from E. coli poisoning.

Julio Custode takes his dog, Simon, to the dog park in Knoxville. He was unaware there may be a hidden danger threatening his dog.

Julio Custode says, "I get my dog the regular treatments like rabies shots, heart worm, that whole thing, but I never had a veterinarian so much as mention that to me."

He's talking about E. coli.

Joe Bartges with UT's veterinarian school says all mammals have E. coli naturally, including humans, and there are a lot of different types.

Some E. coli can cause serious problems in your pooch.

Joe Bartges, professor of medicine and nutrition at UT, says, "If they have an intestinal E. coli disease then it would be diarrhea, vomiting, maybe systemic illness fevers. A urinary infection would be like people with urinary tract infections urinating blood, peeing in house, dripping urine urgency and discomfort."

So what causes E. coli poisoning?

Bartges says, "Through poor hygiene, spinach or chicken or whatever. Some of it is just contacts in handling raw foods not cleaning bowls well."

Certain types of E. coli can go back and forth between humans and animals.

Bartges says, "Wash your hands and keep the food area clean. Don't prepare dog food with raw ingredient in the same area where you're preparing food for your children."

Advice Julio will take more seriously.

Custode says, "I'm usually careful for that for myself, so I guess it's something I will watch out for him too."

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