How to Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe Around Pets and Other Animals

How to Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe Around Pets and Other Animals

Recognize the Advantages and Dangers of Pets

Having a pet has numerous health advantages. They can boost opportunities for socializing, getting outside, and exercising. Regular walking or pet play can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and lipid levels. Due to their company, pets can aid in managing loneliness and melancholy. In most American homes, there is at least one pet.
Research has indicated that there are several health advantages associated with the relationship between humans and their dogs, such as:

  • Reductions in anxiety, triglyceride, cholesterol, blood pressure, loneliness, and PTSD symptoms.
  • Greater chances for outdoor recreation and exercise, improved cognitive performance in senior citizens, and increased socialization opportunities

Even when they seem healthy, pets occasionally have dangerous bacteria that can cause us to become ill. Zoonotic (zoe-oh-NOT-ic) diseases are illnesses that humans contract from animals.

couple sitting in front of lake with two dogs


Tips to help you and your family stay healthy while enjoying pets

Choose the Proper Animal

Before adopting, please verify that the new pet is a good fit for you and your family. Beforehand, learn as much as you can about the animal’s particular needs. Before acquiring a pet, ask yourself the following:

  • What is this animal’s expected lifespan?
  • Does the animal consume food?
  • What is the pet’s required amount of exercise?
  • How big is it going to grow?
  • How much will it cost to see a veterinarian?
  • Have I had the time to give the pet the care and attention it needs?
  • For this pet to remain healthy, what kind of habitat is required?
  • Does this pet require any particular kind of exercise?
  • Does my apartment, condo, or home accept pets?
  • Are there any elderly, small children, or others with weakened immune systems who will be handling or interacting with the pet?

Certain people are more susceptible to illnesses that animals can spread

Diseases classified as zoonotic diseases—transferred between humans and animals—are more common in those 65 and older, children under five, and those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women are also more vulnerable to some illnesses linked to animals. The following should be considered when acquiring a new pet:

  • Pet reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes), amphibians (frogs, toads), and backyard chickens should not be kept by households with children under five years old due to the potential for severe sickness from pathogens that can infect young children.
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems should exercise additional caution while selecting and caring for dogs. See a veterinarian if you need assistance choosing the ideal pet.
  • Pregnant women should avoid handling stray cats, especially kittens, or adopting a new pet. A parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a condition that can result in birth abnormalities, can be carried by cats. You do not have to give up your present cat if you are pregnant, but you should not handle cat litter.
  • Pregnant women should avoid pet rats to protect themselves from the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which can result in birth abnormalities. If you own a pet rodent and are expecting one, keep your distance from it and have someone else clean its habitat.
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How to Stay Well When You’re Around Pets

Hand Sanitization

Washing your hands is crucial to lowering your chance of being ill from bacteria that pets can spread, whether you are playing with, feeding, or cleaning up after your pet. Speak with a doctor and bring up the animals you’ve lately interacted with if you or a family member is worried about getting sick.

Always hand wash:

  • Following contact or playtime with your pet
  • Following your pet’s meal or handling pet food
  • Following the use of pet enclosures or supplies (tanks, cages, toys, food, and water bowls, etc.),
  • following the cleanup of a pet
  • Even if you did not touch an animal after departing from where animals reside (coops, barns, stalls, etc.)
  • Before consuming food and liquids
  • Before making food or beverages
  • After taking off dirty clothing or footwear

While hand sanitizer works well, running water and soap are ideal for hand cleaning. It is always appropriate for adults to help small children wash their hands.

Maintain Your Pet’s Health

Regular, lifetime veterinary care is essential for maintaining the health of your pet and family, regardless of the kind of animal you own—a dog, cat, horse, parakeet, gerbil, bearded dragon, or other entertaining companion. For pets to be healthy, routine veterinary care is necessary. Consult the veterinarian about maintaining the health of your pet. Give your pet lots of exercise, a nutritious diet, clean bedding, and fresh water. Maintain your pet’s flea and tick prevention, deworming, and vaccination schedule. Certain animals may harbor ticks that can infect humans with dangerous illnesses, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Fleas can threaten animals and their owners in places affected by the plague, such as some rural regions in the western United States. You can maintain your family’s health by caring for your pet. Contact a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s health or believe they could be ill.

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Adopt Proper Pet Care Practices

Keeping pets clean and maintaining proper pet care can help stop the transmission of germs from pets to humans, in addition to hand washing. When feasible, clean pet supplies and habitats outside the home and keep pets and their belongings out of the kitchen. It is not advisable to clean items in the bathroom sink, kitchen sink, or spaces used for food preparation. Pets can spread germs to surfaces in your house; you don’t even need to touch them to become ill.

Always use a bag to collect waste from your yard and public areas to ensure proper disposal of your dog’s waste. Human-harming bacteria and parasites have been found in dog and cat feces. To avoid roundworms and hookworms, keep kids away from areas where dog or cat excrement may be present. Keep cats from using covered sandboxes as litter boxes by covering them. Reduce the likelihood of the cat being exposed to dangerous parasites by cleaning the litter box daily. Remember that changing a cat’s litter box should be avoided at all costs by pregnant women.

Teach Children How to Interact With Animals

Youngsters can learn empathy and responsibility from pets. To protect the child and the animal, however, youngsters under five should be watched while interacting with animals. When kids play with animals or anything in their habitat—such as cages, beds, or food or water dishes—teach them to wash their hands soon away. Allowing youngsters to handle animals should not result in them kissing or putting their hands or other objects in their mouths.

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When kids under five get up close and personal with farm animals—including those at petting zoos and fairs—adults should watch over them and use particular caution.

Preserve the Wildness of Wildlife

Avoid wild animals, even though they may seem adorable and cuddly, to lower the danger of disease and damage. Avoid providing food for wild animals like raccoons, prairie dogs, or wild rats to entice them to enter your home. Although you may wish to save a young animal you see that seems to have been abandoned; its parent is usually nearby. Get in touch with a nearby wildlife rehabilitation institution if you have concerns about the safety of a wild animal.



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