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Keeping Healthy around Pets

Owning a pet has many emotional, psychological, and physical benefits. But keeping animals around the house also may expose you to pet-transmitted infections or diseases. A review of illnesses spread by dogs and cats in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests ways to reduce your risks:

  • Vaccinate pets for rabies and other diseases in your area.

  • Treat dogs to prevent heartworm, which in rare cases can infect people.

  • Keep animals and their living areas clean to prevent skin infections and infestation with disease-carrying parasites, such as ticks, fleas, or mites.

  • Clean up after your pet—many diseases are spread by animal feces.

  • Wash hands after contact with pets or their feces. Pregnant women should not change cat litter boxes, to avoid infection with toxoplasmosis.

  • Teach children to avoid unfamiliar animals, and don't leave young children unattended around pets.

  • Get medical attention for all animal bites.

Reference Source 71

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