Keeping your pet healthy can also help keep your family healthy. This is especially true if you have young children in the home, or individuals who may have compromised immune systems that may leave them vulnerable to zoonotic illnesses. A simplified definition of a Zoonotic disease (pronounced zō-ə-nŏt’ĭk) is one that occurs in an animal and can be transferred to a human (e.g., rabies). The development of effective vaccines, de-worming agents, and good hygiene practices have helped keep most zoonotic diseases in check, thus limiting human exposure to these illnesses. To ensure the relationship between you and your pets stays healthy for everyone involved, follow these simple tips:
For Your Pet:
- Keep your pets current with their vaccines and schedule twice-yearly veterinary wellness exams. Regular exams can help your vet detect early signs of disease before they worsen or spread to other household pets or family members.
- Administer monthly de-worming medications to your pets along with year-round flea and tick control (yes, even during colder winter months). Speak to your vet about the best preventative options for your pet.
- Brush and check your pets for ticks after every outing.
- When outdoors, don’t let your pet drink from stagnant water sources. In dog parks, bring your own portable water bowl (and water if needed) instead of having your pet share a bowl with other dogs.
- Bathe your pet regularly (talk to your vet about frequency and type of shampoo use, especially if your pet or family members have health concerns).
- Clean your pets’ paws when coming into the house from outdoors.
- Avoid having your pet come into contact with feces or urine from other animals.
- Discourage your pet from hunting or ingesting birds or rodents.
- Keep garbage safely out of reach of pets indoors and outdoors. Be sure outdoor garbage is secured so as not to attract wildlife.
For Your Family:
- Never handle pet stools with your bare hands – use disposable gloves or plastic bags when handling, then wash your hands thoroughly.
- Always wash your hands after playing with or handling your pet, and before handling food items. This is especially important for children and/or individuals who may have compromised immune systems.
- Make daily “tick checks” a habit for you, your family and your pets. If you find a tick, carefully remove it using tweezers, drop the tick in rubbing alcohol, apply an antiseptic to the bitten area and wash your hands. If Lymes disease is prevalent in your area, you may want to contact your vet/doctor and bring the tick in a plastic bag with you to your appointment.
- If you are scratched or bitten by your pet, immediately clean the wound site with soap and water and contact your physician to prevent infection.