Keeping healthy with pets
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than having to find a new home for the beloved family pet because of health issues in the family. So consider the following before you choose the next addition to your family:
Asthma and allergies:
- People who suffer asthma and/or other allergic reactions from contact with animals are either reacting to animal hair, saliva or skin flakes.
- While there are breeds of both dogs and cats that can minimise these problems (though a skin flake allergy cannot be avoided because all animals with hair shed skin flakes), you should get advice from your doctor or vet before choosing a pet.
- If you have an allergic reaction to animal hair/ saliva or skin flakes, consider keeping a reptile as a pet.
Cats and Toxoplasmosis:
- Toxoplasmosis is an infection that can be caught by coming into contact with cat droppings.
- Toxoplasmosis isn’t usually serious, unless you are pregnant, as it can be transmitted to the foetus and do harm.
- If you own a cat, or have cats in the neighbourhood, it’s wise to wear gloves when you’re gardening to avoid contact with cat droppings.
- Dogs and other pets can spread ringworm (which is a fungus not a worm) to humans.
- Gastrointestinal worms (hook, whip, round, tape worms) can be passed from dogs to humans and cause illness.
- If you own a pet, you should regularly worm the entire family – children, adults, pet.
Fleas and Lice:
- Fleas are easily transferred from animal to human – annoying but not a health problem.
- To keep your pet free from fleas, you need to use appropriate chemicals on a regular basis – while fleas will generally disappear during winter (the colder temperatures keep them at bay), they will appear the moment the weather warms up. This means that all the eggs that were laid last summer will now hatch.
- If your pet lives indoors, and you have a flea problem, use winter as a good time to deflea the house – vacuum all carpets, and wash your pet’s bedding in hot water.
Cats and sandpits:
- Cats love to use sandpits as one huge kitty litter tray, so to keep your sandpit clean and clear of cat droppings, make sure that you always keep it covered when you’re not using it.
- Regularly rake your sandpit through to check for droppings, along with other rubbish that may pose a risk to your child.
- If the sand does become dirty, consider refreshing the sandpit with new sand.
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