Healthy Kids    

Will Fido make your kids sick?

Tips to keep the entire family safe from zoonotic diseases

Let’s face it, we love our pets. For most of us, they are more than just a dog or a cat — they’re are a member of our family. Who doesn’t look forward to walking in the door at the end of the day and being greeted by a wagging tail? Or ending the evening cuddling on the couch with a warm, purring companion? Why then among this love and affection do we need to think about protecting our human family from our furry one? Two words: zoonotic diseases.

Zoonotic diseases are defined as animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as cat scratch fever, rabies or toxoplasmosis, to name a few. That’s right, Fluffy & Max can pass diseases on to you or your kids.

Don't fear life with pets! Easy tips for a safer home

Dr. Christina Winter of Flannery Animal Hospital in New Windsor cautions that there are both direct and indirect diseases that your pets can pass on to the humans who live in close contact with them. Regular veterinary care for your pets is important, not only to help your pet live a long and healthy life but also to prevent the spread of parasites that can cause these diseases.

“I feel that our animals are part of our family and I don’t want to discourage that in any way,” says Winter. “Sometimes they are closer to us than our spouses. Don’t be scared of your animals. We just need to be sure that you have a conversation with your veterinarian and tailor preventative care to your pet’s lifestyle.”

Below are a few of the preventative care items to discuss with your veterinarian:

Annual physical exams

Just as with humans, pets need to be seen regularly by a doctor. Regular visits allow your vet to assess the overall health of your pet and spot potential concerns before they become costly to treat illnesses.

Yearly vaccinations

The rabies vaccine is required by law and can save your pet’s life. Additional important vaccinations to discuss with your veterinarian are: distemper, Lyme disease, parvo, leptospirosis, corona, and giardia.

Fecal testing

Roundworm, tapeworms or hookworms may be in your pet’s system and can be spread to your children. It is important to provide your vet with a stool sample so that it can be tested for parasites.

Heartworm preventatives

Treating heartworm disease is both complicated and expensive. It is simply not worth the risk of infection — prevention here is key.

Flea & tick preventatives

We live in an area that has a high concentration of ticks. It is important that all animals be protected to stop the spread of Lyme disease.

Geri Struble is learning the hard way about the importance of flea and tick prevention. She was recently diagnosed and is undergoing treatment for Lyme disease. Although she lives in a residential area — right off Route 211 in Middletown — her daily walks with Jack, her 9-year-old shih tzu, was the likely source for Lyme.

“Deer still come through here and there, and at the time Jack was not on a flea and tick preventative,” says Struble. “Generally I only used it when we had a flea problem.”

Not anymore. Since her diagnosis, she has made sure Jack is always on a flea and tick preventative and she has even taken steps to protect her indoor cat as well.