We all love our four legged friends, but is there a possibility we may catch something from them?
Most everyone is familiar with tales of rabid animals, dogs included. Animals that foam at the mouth, go insane and are more than willing to bite. Chances are, you’ve never met a rabid animal, but you’ve certainly heard of one.
If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you’ll know that one of the things they have to do is rabies testing on the animal to make sure there is no way you could contract the disease from the bite.
Obviously, if there’s this much concern, there is definitely the potential for you contracting an illness or disease because of your dog.
Rabies is what is called a Zoonotic Disease. Derived from the Greek word “zoon”, or animal, and “nosos”, or ill, zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from a wild or domesticated animal to a human (or vice versa).
While these diseases are relatively rare, they are still something to be considered when approaching strange or stray dogs as well as when handling your own.
Even if your animal does not appear to be ill, he could easily have a parasite you aren’t aware of. For example, hookworms can be present in the feces and (consequently) the salvia of an otherwise healthy dog without your knowledge. If you or your child were to let your dog “kiss” them while he is infected with hookworm, it could very easily be spread to you or your child. This demonstrates the importance of worming your animal early on and making sure your animal has regular check ups.
Hookworms, rabies, salmonella, roundworms, fleas, lyme disease, tapeworms, giardia, ringworm and other bacterial, fungal and parasitic illnesses are zoonotic and can be caught from your animal.
The best solution here is preventative maintenance. For one, always be sure to take your animal to the vet for regular check ups and for his routine vaccinations. If your animal is not sick, there is no way you can catch a sickness from him.
Also, do not handle animal feces directly. Always wear gloves or use a doggy poop bag when handling your animal’s waste. Also, always be sure to pick up any animal waste in your home quickly if there is the potential for your child to come in contact with it.
Wash your hands frequently when handling any animal. At the very least, be sure that wash your hands in between handling an animal and eating or touching your mouth in other ways. Use caution around strange dogs. Even if they appear healthy and friendly, they way very well be carrying a parasitic or fungal infection which could be contagious to you.
While it seems like there is much to be wary about in terms of your animal (or other animals) infecting you, remember that the list of zoonotic diseases is very short in comparison to the number of diseases you can catch from another human. As long as you are sure to worm your animal, treat them with flea/tick treatment if necessary, take them to regular vet check ups and stay hygienic when handling animals, you have very little to worry about.