02 February 2012

Be careful about pets

Pets are an endless source of affection, but they can also spread illness in a household. Experts offer the following tips for keeping interactions with your pets a source of pleasure, not disease:

No licking: Veterinarians say kissing your pets or allowing them to lick you isn't a great idea. Pets eat, drink and lick things that can contain pathogens they can pass to you.

No raw meat: Some pet owners are strong advocates for feeding dogs and cats raw meat. But veterinarians say that can lead to infection with Salmonella, Campylobacter and other bugs your pets can then spread around the household.

Careful with the pet chews: Dried pig ears, often used as a pet chew for dogs, are also often contaminated with Salmonella. You can pick up the bug by handling the chew, or cleaning up after the dog if it develops Salmonella-induced diarrhea.

Choose appropriate pets: Consider the age and health status of people in your household when choosing a pet.

Keep sandboxes covered: Kitty can't tell a sandbox from a litter box. 

Stick to traditional pets: The further you get from household standards like dogs, cats, hamsters and rabbits, the more risk you run of picking up weird diseases.

Wild animals don't make good pets: The baby raccoon may look precious now, but he's not going to be a good pet. Don't do it.

Wash your hands: Pets can carry a variety of bugs on their coats, in their mouths and can shed many in their droppings. Take precautions when cleaning up after them, especially if they have diarrhea. And if you are handling pets  wash your hands afterwards.

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