Although your pet is most often a source of enjoyment, lurking behind that lovable, furry exterior can be a number of nasty germs that can make you and your family sick. Virtually all pets, including dogs, cats, birds, rodents and reptiles, carry illnesses that can be transmitted to humans. Some of the infections pets carry include fungi, bacteria, parasites and viruses. Infections pets carry can be transmitted through scratching, biting, saliva, waste, dander and ticks or fleas.
Most infections pets carry are fairly harmless to adults. Young children and infants can be at particular risk from these illnesses, because their immune systems are not as well developed. Pregnant women and their fetuses, as well, are at increased risk from the infections pets carry.
The following is a list of the most common types of infections pets carry:
Of all the potential infections pets carry, many experts are particularly concerned with the infections that reptiles carry. If you have small children, it may be a good idea to hold off on reptile pets until your child is older.
Although there are many infections pets carry, if you follow certain precautions, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about contracting them. First and foremost, keep your pets up to date on their vaccinations. Avoid feeding pets raw meat, which may carry bacteria, and make sure to sanitize areas where a pet may have defecated or urinated. Avoid contact with a pet’s mouth, and teach your child to do the same.
Proper handwashing will help ward off potential infections as well. If your pet goes outside often, make sure to clean up poop in the yard and keep cats out of children’s sandboxes. Shampooing your dog or cat on a regular basis can help prevent illnesses from fleas and ticks from affecting you and your pets.