October 7, 2011
Pets and zoonotic diseases continued ..

Q: How can I prevent my pet from making me sick?

A: There are many simple steps you can take to prevent your pet and your family from getting sick:

  • First of all, healthy pets are much less likely to carry diseases that can infect you. Taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular checkups, vaccinations, and making sure that they are adequately dewormed is a simple way to keep them healthy.{{more}} Keeping your pets free of fleas and ticks is also important. If you are buying a pet, don’t purchase a pet that looks ill or unhealthy, no matter what excuse the owner gives you for the pet looking sick.
  • Don’t directly handle your pet’s stool or urine. Wear disposable gloves (or gloves that can be easily be disinfected) when cleaning the cat’s litter box and use a shovel, or spade or something to cover your hands when cleaning up dog stool.
  • Clean up after your pet. Keep your cat’s litter box clean, and keep your yard free of dog waste.
  • After handling your pet, or its food or bedding, or cleaning up after your pet (even if you were wearing gloves), thoroughly wash your hands. This is especially important before you eat anything. Make sure children know to wash their hands after contact with any animal, or wash your children’s hands for them if they are not able to do it.
  • Don’t let your pets (or children, for that matter) come in contact with stray or wild animals. These animals are much more likely to have diseases that can infect your pet and possibly infect you.
  • Don’t let your pets lick you in the mouth, and teach children not to put their mouths on animals or any part of the animal’s body in their mouth.
  • Keep your family healthy. If the people in the family are healthy, they are less likely to be infected, even if the pet becomes infected, because their immune systems are healthy.

Q: I’m thinking of getting a pet, but I have young children. What’s the best pet to get? Should I get a pet at all?

A: Getting a pet is not a decision that should be made lightly. Firstly ensure that you have the means to support whatever type of pet you are thinking of getting. As I always say, the animals do not come to us looking for ownership, but rather we are the ones who take them in as pets. It is our moral responsibility to ensure that they have adequate living space and their needs (including meals, healthcare, and welfare) are adequately taken care of. If you are choosing a dog, be mindful of the breed you would want to acquire. Some breeds are more aggressive than others. You would want to get a breed that is not aggressive towards kids, and make sure that you socialize the dog with the child / children from an early age.

Some families may prefer to get a caged bird or maybe an aquarium fish, depending on the family’s lifestyle and needs.

Q: My dog has mange and my doctor tells me that my child picked it up from the dog. Is that true?

A: Generally in our conditions, I encounter mainly 2 types of mange:

  • Scabies (sarcoptic mange) , caused by a mite called sarcoptes scabiei var canis. Although this mite specifically affects dogs or the canine family, the mite can also affect humans for variable periods of time. This disease is characterized by intense puritus (itching)
  • Demodectic mange: Causes an inflammatory parasitic skin disease of mainly dogs. This mite is easily identified by a skin scraping under a microscope. In general, this type of mite does not infect other species, including humans. Although, I was told of one case where the person who was handling a dog with this type of mange had her hand affected by it.
  • The possibility of scabies and other diseases affecting us from out pets, only goes to reinforce the fact that it is our duty to ensure that our pets are in good health at all times.
For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd. Tel: 456 4981