62% of Australian households have pets, giving us one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. According to a survey by our member, Animal Medicines Australia 38% of households have dogs.
Most of us consider pets to be part of the family and, in return, having a pet has been shown to have positive health benefits. Studies show owning a pet can reduce stress, increase rates of exercise and even reduce the incidence of allergies and help strengthen the immune system in children exposed to pets in early childhood.
But despite these benefits we need to be aware that our pets can share more than love with the rest of your family. Pets can carry bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi which can be transmitted to humans, especially young children, through bites, poop, saliva or dander.
Firstly always take your dog for regular health check ups with you vet and make sure they are fully immunized, wormed, and have had flea and tick treatments.
Try to keep dogs out of areas where you are preparing food, especially kitchen benchtops. As always, wash you hands with soap and dry thoroughly before handling food and after handling your dog, their food or toys. Don’t let your dog lick or take food from your plate.
Responsible dog ownership involves a lot of picking up poop which can transfer germs to your hands. Always wash your hands after picking up after your dog. When out walking your dog, and if you have been picking up poop, make sure you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you eat or drink anything.
Find out more about Food safety and pets