Dog Articles - Avoiding Pet-Related Health Hazards

Avoiding Pet-Related Health Hazards

Did you know that there are many diseases that can spread between companion animals and humans? It is important that pet owners understand the illnesses that humans can catch from animals so that proper measures are taken to stay healthy. Take some time to learn the best ways to avoid becoming infected with these diseases.

No Face to Face - Many diseases are transmitted through animal saliva. Don't let your companion animals lick your face, and do not allow your children to put their faces in the dog or cat's face. This will help protect them from diseases and will also protect them from bites. All children should learn that putting their faces in dog's faces can be felt by the dog to be threatening and is thus very dangerous.

Wash Hands - Practice proper hand washing before and after handling pets and encourage your children to do the same. Wash hands with warm water and antibacterial soap. Lather the entire hand, and take extra care to wash between fingers and under nails. Teach your children to sing Happy Birthday, or the Alphabet Song while they are washing; they are not done until the song is over.

Cover Sand Boxes - Keep a tight-fitting cover over children's sandboxes. Many diseases are transmitted through animal waste and stray and feral cats like to use sandboxes as litter boxes. Make children wash their hands thoroughly after playing in the sandbox.

Bites and Scratches - Make sure any animal bites and scratches are scrubbed with soap and hot water immediately. If you or your children are bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal, or an animal who is not known to be vaccinated against rabies, seek medical attention immediately.

Immunizations - Immunizations can protect your companion animal from many of the diseases that could make them sick, and those that could be passed to you and your family. Many vets suggest that dogs be vaccinated against rabies, bordatella, parvovirus, leptospirosis, and distemper; and that cats be vaccinated against distemper, feline calicvirus, rhinotracheitis, and rabies.

Annual Vet Visit - Take your dog or cat to the vet at least once a year for a checkup. Even if your pet seems healthy, your vet might pick up on a problem you haven't noticed. They can also refill your prescriptions for monthly flea, tick, and heartworm treatments.

Regular Baths - Keeping your pet clean can help keep a more hygienic home. Dogs should be bathed at least once a month (make sure not to bathe them too often, this can deplete the skin of necessary natural oils). Between baths, clean your dog or outdoor cat's paws anytime it is evident that they have been out digging. Also, brush your dog or cat regularly so that less dead fur is deposited around the home.

Monthly Worming - Your vet can write your dog or cat a prescription for a monthly heartworm preventative. It is vital that your pet be protected from heartworms. Also, most heartworm preventatives also prevent several types of worms that can be transmitted from your companion animal to you and your family.

Monthly Flea and Tick Control - Fleas and Ticks are external parasites that can infest your dog, your cat, and humans as well. They also carry internal parasites that can be dangerous and even deadly. Monthly flea and tick treatments can help keep the creepy crawlers off your pets and out of your home.

No Kitchen - Train your pets to stay out of the kitchen. You can do this by teaching them the place command. Keeping dogs and cats out of the kitchen keeps pet fur and the accompanying germs out of your family's food. (Learn more about the Place Command.)

Some of the Diseases You Can Catch:

MRSA - A type of staff infection considered a “superbug” which originated in hospitals. There are more and more cases being discovered of this infection being transmitted from pets to humans and humans to pets.

Rabies - A bacterial infection, transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, which affects the brain. If medical attention is not sought immediately after exposure, rabies almost always results in death.

Toxoplasmosis - Also referred to as “cat scratch fever,” this parasite, transmitted through cat feces, often infects humans via cat scratches.

Ringworm - Not actually a worm at all, this fungus is highly contagious and is transmitted through physical contact with infected animals.

Worms - Tapeworm, roundworm, and hookworm are transmitted through animal feces, but can also stick to and be carried on the infected animal's fur.

Lyme Disease - Carried by ticks, lyme disease affects many body systems, including the brain, eyes, nerves, heart, and joints.

Leptospirosis - This bacterial infection is spread via animal urine. Different strains of leptospirosis bacteria are prevalent in different parts of the United States. Your vet will be familiar with which strains against which to vaccinate.

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