Healthy Pet and Healthy Owner

19 April 2023

Studies show that there are numerous benefits to pet ownership.  Some of these include:

  • Lowered blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • Fewer symptoms of anxiety, loneliness, and traumatic stress
  • For children, an opportunity to accept and understand responsibilities
  • For older adults, better cognitive function, encouraging outdoor activities including exercise, and socializing

The risks of a human getting sick from being around your pets is low as long as the pets themselves are healthy and we practice good hygiene.  The risks of acquiring an infectious disease is low, but that doesn’t mean you should rule it out entirely.  Depending on the type of pet, they are, after all, animals and have behaviors like licking their behinds, eating trash, or other questionable activities.  These things put our fur babies into close contact with bacteria, fungi, and other nasties that can be harmful to them as well as us.

To be safe, extra precautions should be taken for children under 5, adults over 65, those who are pregnant, or those with immunity issues.  Also, keep in mind that there are some animals that are more likely to be susceptible to germs, including Salmonella.  These are reptiles, amphibians, birds, and rodents.  If you find yourself concerned about an illness, speak with your doctor and mention any animals you may have been around recently.

Thoroughly wash your hands if your pets lick your hands or face, after feeding them or handling their bowls or playthings, cleaning their litter boxes or feces.  Wash hands using soap and water but hand sanitizer will work until you can get to a faucet.  Adults should always assist or supervise young children with hand washing.

Keep their food stored in plastic bins to avoid attracting pests.

Keep your pets themselves healthy with regular visits to the veterinarian and keep current on all vaccinations, flea and tick treatments, medications, and grooming.  Be sure your pet has proper food, fresh water, appropriate shelter (especially during temperature extremes), and exercise.

Always remove your dog’s poop from your yard, public places, and your neighbor’s property.  (Besides it is only courteous.)  Use a bag and dispose of it properly.  Canine and feline feces can contain parasites and germs that can be harmful, including roundworms and hookworms.  Cover children’s sand boxes when not in use to help outdoor cats from finding it attractive.

Regular appointments with the vet will help keep your pet heathy.  For a kitten or puppy up to their first birthday, they need vaccinations every three or four weeks until they are about 16 weeks.  This will include a “well baby check” to be sure they are growing at the appropriate rates and arrange for spaying or neutering at about six months.

From ages 1 through 10 it is recommended that you bring your pet in for an annual check up.  This will also include blood work and rabies and distemper boosters.  If possible, bringing along a stool sample will help the office check for intestinal parasites.

At around 7 to 10 years old, he or she will need to return to twice a year visits.  This can help with preventive medications and techniques as your pet moves from senior level to geriatric.

Keeping a healthy household is good for all concerned.

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