How can I minimize the chance of catching a disease from my dog?

April 13, 2012

A zoonotic disease is defined by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an infection or a disease that can be easily transmitted to humans by animals. Most of these diseases are caused by viral, bacterial and fungal infections, by internal and external parasites and by animal bites. The risk for the transmission of zoonotic diseases is high given the amount of time people spend with their pets. Due to this exposure, bacteria and viruses that infect animals can easily cross the barrier and infect humans as well.

Dogs are one of the most if not the most popular choice for a pet. Being considered as members of the family, dogs are not only allowed to live inside the house. They are also allowed to sleep with the masters. Anyone who has lived with a dog will know how affectionate these animals are. It is not surprising if pet dogs will be constantly cuddled, hugged and kissed by the family. Kids that form a strong attachment with the pet cannot be stopped from kissing and hugging the pet. The only recourse a parent can do is to ensure that the dog is kept clean. Good hygiene can lessen the risk of diseases but it cannot be totally prevented.

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can be transmitted by the pet to the human family. A flea infestation can result to immense discomfort. Ticks that infest the dog can easily jump to the human family and increase the risk for Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ringworm is a highly contagious skin disease that can be easily transmitted through direct contact. Intestinal worms can be transmitted by handling dirt contaminated by the feces of infected dogs. The risk of transmission is pretty high in children because of their inclination to play with dirt. Rabies is a fatal disease that can be transmitted through the bite of the dog. This fatal disease has no cure.

Dogs are well loved pets that are considered as members of the family. Dog owners that regularly bathe and groom the pet lessens the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases. The same thing would be true if the vaccination status of the dog is kept current. The first line of defense against the transmission of these diseases is prompt treatment. If you notice the dog infested with parasites or with bacterial and viral infections, head to the vet at once. Do not wait until the condition of the pet worsens so that the disease is transmitted to you and to your family. It would be a good idea to isolate the pet at least while it is still sick. The chance of catching the dog’s disease can be minimized by observing common sense guidelines like washing the hands after touching the pet. The feces must be removed and disposed of as soon as it was excreted by the pet. This will prevent the transmission of worms if the pet has intestinal parasites. Thorough hand washing is necessary especially after removing the feces of the pet. Dogs are very affectionate animals. These pets love being kissed and kissing the human family in return. Petting, cuddling and most importantly kissing must be avoided if the dog is sick. If the dog sleeps with you, it would be better to crate the dog or to allow it to sleep in another room. We usually share whatever food we eat with the pet. Dogs are allowed to finish off the food from the plate. However, licking eating utensils is one good way of transmitting infection. This must be avoided as well to lessen the chance of getting the disease that plagues the pet.

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