Healthy pets and people
Pets can appear to be healthy even when they have germs. Here are a few tips to keep you and your family healthy.
Picking the Right Pet
Before you purchase or adopt a pet, make sure that it is the right one for you and your family. CDC recommends the following:
• Households with children under 5 years of age should not own reptiles, such as turtles, or amphibians, such as frogs.
• Pregnant women should avoid contact with pet rodents to prevent exposure to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, which is a virus that can cause birth defects.
• Pregnant women should avoid adopting or handling stray cats, especially kittens. They particularly should not clean litter boxes to avoid getting toxoplasmosis from them.
• Immune-compromised persons and persons with HIV infection or AIDS should take extra precautions when choosing and handling pets. Talk to your veterinarian and health care provider to help make this decision.
To pick the right pet, do some research beforehand about the specific needs of the animal. Some questions to ask are: How much exercise does the pet need? How large will it become? Is the type of animal aggressive? What does the pet eat? How much will it cost for veterinary care? Do I have enough time to properly care for and clean up after the pet? What exactly does this pet need in its habitat to be healthy? Are pets allowed in my apartment or condominium? How long will this animal live?
Practice good hygiene around pets
• Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching a pet, their housing, or anything (for example, food or treats) that comes in contact with them or the areas where they live. It is especially important to wash your hands after touching a pet and before preparing, serving, eating, or drinking.
• Adults should assist young children with hand washing. See more information on hand washing. (See the CDC's Clean Hands site for more information on hand washing.)
• Running water and soap are best for hand washing. Use hand sanitizers if running water and soap are not available. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as a sink is available.
• Call your health care provider if you or a family member are concerned about illness and be sure to tell them about the pets you have contact with.
• Contact your pet's veterinarian if you are concerned that your pet may be sick.
Many pets, such as dogs, cats, reptiles, rodents, and birds, carry germs that can be spread from animals to people. Always wash hands upon leaving areas where animals live (i.e. coops. barns, stalls, etc.) even if you did not touch an animal, after going to the toilet, before eating and drinking, before preparing food or drinks, and after removing soiled clothes or shoes.
It is also important to wash your hands right after handling pet foods and treats, which can be contaminated with bacteria and other germs. Pet food and treats might include dry dog or cat food, dog biscuits, pig ears, beef hooves, and rodents used to feed reptiles.