Protect Your Family And Pets Against Shared Threats

On one hand,​ there are many ways having a​ pet can contribute to​ your health. Pets offer emotional support,​ help people exercise and assist the​ disabled.

On the​ other hand,​ pets (and other animals) can also spread diseases to​ people. Called zoonotic diseases or​ zoonoses,​ they can be especially dangerous for young children and people with certain medical conditions.

There are two main types. One,​ such as​ leptospirosis (a bacterial infection),​ can be transmitted from animals to​ people. the​ other type infects both people and pets. Lyme disease,​ for example,​ can cause arthritis and is​ spread by ticks.

Fortunately,​ there are ways to​ keep your family and pets healthy. According to​ veterinarians,​ you​ should:

• Get a​ wellness exam for your pet every six months. Remember,​ pets age seven times faster,​ on​ average,​ than people and need regular checkups.

• Make sure your pet is​ protected against disease whenever possible. Many zoonotic diseases,​ including leptospirosis,​ Lyme disease,​ rabies and giardia (a parasitic infection),​ can be prevented by vaccination.

• Ask your veterinarian about flea and tick control.

• Wash your hands often when touching,​ playing with or​ caring for pets.

• Never handle the​ stool of​ any animal without wearing disposable gloves or​ using a​ plastic barrier.

• Avoid kissing your pet or​ letting him lick your face.

• Do daily "tick checks" on​ yourself,​ your kids and your pet. if​ you​ find a​ tick,​ use tweezers to​ slowly pull it​ out. After removing the​ tick,​ immerse it​ in​ rubbing alcohol. Wash the​ tick bite wound and your hands with soap and water.

• if​ you're pregnant,​ have someone else clean the​ cat's litter box. if​ you​ must do it​ yourself,​ wear gloves and immediately wash your hands after changing the​ litter.

• Wash your hands after gardening or​ working in​ soil where pets may have relieved themselves.

• if​ you​ are scratched or​ bitten,​ wash the​ area with soap and water right away and administer first aid. if​ you​ are concerned,​ contact your health care professional.

• Not let your pet drink from standing water outdoors.

• Remove food,​ garbage or​ nesting material that may attract disease-carrying wildlife.

To help protect pets and the​ people they come in​ contact with,​ thousands of​ U.S. veterinary clinics are participating in​ National Pet Wellness Month,​ a​ veterinary clinic-centered educational campaign sponsored by the​ American Veterinary Medical Association and Fort Dodge Animal Health.

Veterinary clinics offer pet wellness exams and consult with pet owners about disease prevention and other ways to​ help their pets live longer,​ healthier and happier lives.

Your veterinarian will know the​ predominant disease threats in​ your area and can develop a​ plan to​ provide disease protection for you​ and your pet.

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