When most people think of pet safety and health, they think of pet food, exercise, and even trips to the vet. However, what are the things families and pet owners should consider so that they can safely coexist with their so-called fur baby?
According to US News, “more than 50,000 children ages 6 and under suffered a dog bite injury in 2014.” Whether is be a bite to the hand, face, or other injury, some attacks by pets can lead to life threatening injuries. Many of these occur when families ignore the golden rule to never leave a child alone with a pet, no matter how much you trust little Fido. On the contrary, dangers can still occur even when children are supervised because many adults and children alike do not know basic pet safety.
It is important to teach pet owners and children how to safely interact with pets. There are some safety tips from North Shore Animal League America that demonstrate some behaviors and manners that should be observed with any mammal pet for both adults and children. Some concepts are intuitive, such as to pet the animal gently and do not pull or tug on their fur or body parts. Other things are good tips for first time pet owners or anyone trying to teach others how to safely interact with animals. For example, you should never approach an animal while it is eating, sleeping, or chewing on a toy. At these times, many animals can become defensive and others are at risk of attack if you scare your pet or if it perceives your actions as a threat. This can also apply to loud noises.
While keeping yourself or your loved ones safe from an attack is often at the top of any pet owner’s priority list, other aspects of pet ownership can also pose risks. The CDC notes the dangers of pet food, which have been linked to Salmonella outbreaks in the past. In fact, there are several edible dog products listed for recall on the FDA’s website due to concern for contamination. As I explained in an earlier article outlining food safety, Salmonella can be dangerous or even life threatening to the young, old, and immune compromised. After feeding your pet, it is important to wash your hands and handle dog food the same as you would handle you own. Store the food out of reach of children, because some young kids may try to eat the food or treats, and be sure to keep dog food out of the kitchen to prevent contamination with your own food products.
Not only is it important to be cautious about what goes in your pet, but it is also important to be careful around what comes out. Animal waste can cause foul odor, mess, and illness. According to the State of Rhode Island Department of Health outdoor pet waste can contaminate water supply. So much so that waste of 100 animals over the course of a weekend can be enough to close a bay of water to swimming and recreational activities due to health risks and contamination. In fact, AAPAW notes that Dog feces is as high as 3rd on the list of contributors to contaminated water. After picking up pet waste, regardless of whether your pet voids him/herself indoors or outdoors, dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag. Do not toss it outside in the open or dispose of it down the toilet. These actions pose risk of spreading infectious diseases.
Owning a pet, large or small, is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. There are considerations to be undertaken in order to ensure that you, your pet, and others around you are safe. However, by following simple guidelines, your risk for illness or injury can be minimized. Having a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Enjoy your pet ins a safe and healthy way!