Risks and Benefits of Pets
Owning a pet has numerous health benefits. They have the potential to increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and interact. Walking or playing with pets on a regular basis helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Pets can help us cope with loneliness and sadness by providing companionship. The majority of American families have at least one pet.
Several studies have found that the attachment between humans and their pets is associated with a variety of health advantages, including:
Reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride levels, feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms.
Increased possibilities for exercise and outdoor activities; improved cognitive performance in elderly persons; and increased socialization opportunities
Pets, on the other hand, can sometimes carry hazardous bacteria that can make us sick, even if the creature appears healthy. Zoonotic (Zoe-oh-NOT-ic) diseases are those that humans contract from animals. Here are some suggestions to keep you and your family healthy while enjoying dogs.
Discover more about many types of pets and other animals.
Choose the Best Pet
Before getting a new pet, make sure it’s a good fit for you and your family. Do some preliminary study on the animal’s individual requirements. Before obtaining a pet, consider the following:
- How long will this creature live?
- What does the animal eat?
- How much exercise does your pet require?
- How big will it grow?
- What will the cost of veterinarian treatment be?
- Is there enough time in my schedule to adequately care for and clean up after the pet?
- What kind of environment does this pet require to stay healthy?
- What kind of exercise does this pet require?
- Is it okay to have a pet in my house, apartment, or condominium?
- Are there any young children, seniors, or anyone with compromised immune systems who will care for or be near the pet?
Children under the age of five, persons with compromised immune systems, and people 65 and older are particularly vulnerable to infections shared between animals and humans (also known as zoonotic diseases). Pregnant women are also more susceptible to certain animal-related diseases. Keep the following in mind when obtaining a new pet:
Pet reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes), amphibians (frogs, toads), or backyard poultry should not be kept in households with children under the age of five, due to the risk of serious sickness from deadly germs shared between these animals and young children.
People with compromised immune systems should exercise special caution while selecting and caring for dogs. Consult your veterinarian for advice on selecting the ideal pet.
Pregnant women should avoid adopting a new cat or interacting with stray cats, particularly kittens. Cats can contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a birth defect-causing disease. You do not have to give up your present cat if you are pregnant, but you should avoid handling cat litter.
Pregnant women should avoid contact with pet rats to avoid becoming infected with the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which can cause birth abnormalities. Avoid direct touch with your pet rodent while pregnant, and have someone else clean its surroundings.
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Get more information for persons who are particularly vulnerable to animal-related sickness.
Ways to Stay Healthy When Surrounded by Pets
Clean Your Hands
Washing your hands is crucial whether you are playing with, feeding, or cleaning up after your pet to help lower the chance of getting sick from pathogens dogs can carry. If you or a family member are concerned about sickness, consult a doctor and report any recent animal encounter.
Always wash your hands:
- After you have touched or played with your pet
- Following the feeding of your pet or the handling of pet food Following the handling of pet habitats or equipment (cages, tanks, toys, food and water dishes, etc.)
- Following the cleansing of pet waste
- Even if you did not contact an animal after leaving sites where animals live (coops, barns, stables, etc.),
- Prior to eating and drinking
- Prior to preparing food or beverages
- Following the removal of filthy clothing or shoes
- Running water and soap are preferred for hand cleaning, however, hand sanitizer can be used until running water and soap are available. Adults should constantly help small children wash their hands.
Maintain Your Pet’s Health
Regular, life-long veterinary care is essential for keeping your pet and family healthy, whether you have a dog, cat, horse, parakeet, gerbil, bearded dragon, or other entertaining pet. Regular veterinary checkups are critical to the health of your pet. Consult your veterinarian for advice on how to keep your pet healthy. Give your pet a nutritious diet, clean water, and lots of exercises. Maintain your pet’s vaccinations, deworming, and flea and tick control. Ticks can be carried by some pets and bring dangerous diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans. Fleas can be dangerous to both animals and their people in plague zones, including some rural locations in the western United States.
You can benefit yourself and your family by keeping your pet healthy. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health or suspect that he or she is ill, contact your veterinarian.
Maintain Proper Pet Hygiene
In addition to hand cleaning, maintaining good pet hygiene can help reduce the transfer of germs between pets and people. Keep pets and their supplies away from the kitchen, and sanitize pet habitats and supplies outside the house whenever possible. Never clean materials in the kitchen sink, food preparation areas, or bathroom sink. Pets can infect surfaces in your home with germs—you don’t have to touch pets to get sick from their germs.
Always use a bag to collect and dispose of your dog’s excrement (poop) from your yard and public locations. Dog and cat excrement can contain parasites and pathogens that are hazardous to humans. Keep youngsters away from dog or cat excrement to avoid roundworms and hookworms. Cover sand boxes so cats don’t use them as a litter boxes. Clean the cat’s litter box on a daily basis to reduce the risk of parasite exposure. Remember that pregnant ladies should avoid changing a cat’s litter box if at all feasible.
Teach Children How to Interact with Animals
Pets may teach children compassion and responsibility. However, children under the age of 5 should be monitored when engaging with animals to guarantee the safety of both the child and the pet. Teach youngsters to wash their hands immediately after playing with animals or touching anything in the animals’ environment (cages, beds, food or water dishes). Allow children to kiss dogs or put their hands or other objects in their mouths after handling animals.
Adults should supervise and be extra cautious when children under the age of five come into direct contact with farm animals, including those at petting zoos and fairs.
Keep Wildlife Wild
To decrease the danger of infection and harm, avoid touching wild animals, even if they appear cute and cuddly. Don’t feed wild creatures like raccoons, prairie dogs, or wild rats. You can come across a young animal that appears to be abandoned and wish to help it, but its parent is usually nearby. If you are concerned about the safety of a wild animal, call a local wildlife rehabilitation facility.