The neighbour's retriever plants a big wet dog kiss on your son's face. Your kitten mistakes your hand for a toy mouse and leaves a big scratch. Your toddler digs happily in a park sandbox that you suspect is visited occasionally at night by dogs. Do any of these pet encounters pose a health risk? Yes, as a matter of fact.
When people and pets interact, they share germs along with dog kisses and head pats. Although catching a serious illness from a pet is rare in Canada, certain less serious zoonoses (diseases contracted from animals) are common.
Here are some ways to prevent the spread of disease:
5 rules for kids to follow to stay germ-free around animals
• Wash your hands after you touch an animal.
• Wash your hands after you play in the sand or dirt, and don't put your dirty hands in your mouth.
• Don't touch strange or wild animals.
• If an animal scratches you, tell your parents right away.
• Don't approach strange animals or pets without their owners' permission.
7 more rules for everyone
And for children and adults alike, here are some more preventive measures to ensure you and your pet remain in good health:
• Don't let dogs lick your face or mouth.
• Make sure to get your pets from a trusted source, such as a reliable breeder.
• Always clean up after your pet.
• Keep an up-to-date history of your pet's vaccinations and health record, and take your pet to a veterinarian for regular checkups.
• Train your dog or cat not to bite or scratch people. Don't let cats play with your hands; always use a toy.
• Don't keep wild animals as pets.
• Monitor your pet's contact with other animals, especially strays and unfamiliar animals.
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