According to recent studies, 62 per cent of Australian households have pets. That may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it actually gives us one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, so it’s not surprising that we mess up every so often when it comes to handling our pets.
While our pets can provide invaluable love and companionship, they can also pass on some harmful diseases. According to the Food Safety Information Council, pets can transfer “bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi to humans … through bites, saliva or dander”.
Young children are especially at risk, so keep an eye out for the grandkids when they’re playing with the family pet.
There are some pretty simple ways to avoid the worst diseases, such as ensuring that your pet has regular vet check-ups and is up-to-date with all immunisations and flea and tick treatments. And, as cute as pets can be when they beg for a taste of that delicious-smelling dinner you’re cooking, try to keep them away from any food preparation or meal areas.
Cats in particular can put you at risk of salmonella infections after they consume raw meat, so try to limit their consumption of non-commercially prepared food wherever possible.
If you’ve handled your pet, their food or toys, or their poop (whether it be taking the dog for a walk or cleaning a cat’s litter tray), you should always wash your hands or use antibacterial sanitiser before you eat or drink something.
Those who enjoy a spot of gardening may come across animal faeces from their own pet or from wild animals without even realising it, which is why gardening gloves are highly recommended and washing your hands is imperative.
These might seem like common sense, but you’ve probably broken the rules at least once or twice without even realising it. Stay conscious of your behaviour around your pet, and check with your health care professional if you begin to experience any worrying symptoms after coming in contact with animals.