Zoonotic diseases. It’s a strange phrase, and an even stranger concept–diseases that spread from animals to humans–but some diseases from pets can even be deadly. For many of us, pets are family. We talk to them, watch TV together, let them sleep on our beds. But close contact can expose you to serious ailments that can spread from animals to humans. That doesn’t mean you should ban pets from your home. The key to keeping yourself healthy is awareness and prevention. Be aware so you can keep your family safe–four-legged members included.
Parasites – Pooches and other pets can share both internal and external zoonotic diseases with their human families. Kids can get hookworm by running barefoot on grass where parasite-infected dog poo once sat, or contract ringworm by petting an infected pup.
Care for your animal to reduce risk. Lifetime parasite control is recommended for all pets, no matter the breed. This will also protect the human family from contracting the disease pets can carry. Dealing with parasites used to be chemical warfare. Now, it’s just an oral or topical medication. Health professionals recommends products like the oral Trifexis and topical Revolution to protect and prevent against heartworm, intestinal parasites, and fleas.
Cat Scratches & Bites – A feline can transmit a bacterial infection if it claws or bites, and it’s important to be particularly protective of kids. Cat scratch disease is rare but can be passed from cats to people. Potential symptoms include swollen glands, rash, fever, headache, and if there are any of these symptoms you may need a round of antibiotics.
Salmonella – Keep small children away from dry pet food, which may carry salmonella. A May 2012 outbreak affected 47 people in 20 states, sending 10 to the hospital. Regardless of where you store the food, make sure children (with weaker immune systems) avoid contact.
Reptiles can also carry salmonella in their stool. Practice good hand washing every time a child touches the pet reptile or the inside of the cage to prevent contracting the bacteria.
Water Bowls – Infants, babies, and toddlers can drown in just two inches of water, so never leave a child unattended near a pet’s water supply, and, keep the bowl as far from your kid’s play area as possible.
Flea Collars and Lotions -Good grooming habits can also go a long way in preventing fleas and a variety of other skin issues–the most common cause for vet visits each year. A few healthy habits: Bathe your pet regulary using a shampoo recommended by your vet; brush regularly to keep the coat healthy and dramatically reduce shedding.
Ticks – Dogs and cats that spend time in wooded areas may pick up tiny ticks. Some ticks carry Lyme disease, which can be hard to detect and diagnose, causing long-term problems, such as irregular heartbeat, arthritis, and impaired brain function.