Responsible pet ownership keeps you and your pet healthy

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Owning a pet can be rewarding and can even benefit physical and mental health. No wonder nearly 70% of US households own a pet!

But pet ownership comes with a lot of responsibility. Below are some dos and don’ts of pet ownership to help your entire family – human, feathered, furry, or scaly – stay healthy and happy.

Do this…

Happy african american boy sitting on couch and petting his cat in sunny living room
  • Pick the right pet for your family. Different pets have different needs. Make sure you find a pet that fits your family’s lifestyle. Pet reptiles, amphibians, and rodents aren’t recommended for families with young kids, older adults, or people with weakened immune systems because they are more likely to spread germs.
  • Teach kids how to interact with pets safely. Teaching kids how to properly interact with pets can help prevent bites, scratches, and other injuries to them and the pet.
  • Clean up after your pet. Pet poop can carry parasites and germs and contaminate the environment. Always pick up after your pet in public spaces and in your own yard or house, especially if you have kids.
  • Take your pet to the veterinarian. Regular vet visits help keep your pet healthy, but they can also help keep you healthy. Pet vaccinations help prevent some diseases that can spread to people, and prevention for fleas, ticks, and worms keep them away from both you and your pet.

…Not that

Little dog walking with its owner
  • Don’t feed pets raw diets. Raw pet foodexternal icon can spread germs like Salmonella and Listeria to people and pets.
  • Don’t let pets roam freely outside. Always supervise pets when they’re outside (or keep them leashed) to keep your pet and other people safe. Unsupervised pets can also harm wildlife or come in contact with wild animals that can spread diseases.
  • Don’t encourage pets to play rough. Rough play can lead to bites, scratches, and other injuries.
  • Never release an unwanted pet outdoors. Many pets released outdoors will die, some can become invasive species and disrupt ecosystems, and some can hurt native wildlife. Find a new home or give your pet to a reputable rescue organization instead.