Responsible Pet Ownership Keeps People and Pets Healthy

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A mom and son petting a dog

Pets, whether covered in fur, feathers, or scales, are an important part of our lives. Owning a pet is a big responsibility, and many people don’t realize that everyday activities involved in caring for pets can result in the spread of germs from pets to people.

Luckily, taking some simple steps can help keep you and your pet healthy and happy.

  1. Pick the right pet: Not all pets are right for all people. Do your homework before adopting a new pet to learn about the animal’s specific needs. If you have young children, older adults, or people with weakened immune systems in your household, some pets are more likely to make them sick.
  2. Keep your pet healthy: Keeping your pet healthy helps to keep you healthy. Make sure pets get regular veterinary care along with a good diet, fresh water, shelter, and exercise. Many pets need routine vaccinations, de-worming, and flea and tick control to protect them, and their owners, from certain diseases.
  3. Practice good hygiene: Washing your hands is one of the best ways to stay healthy around pets. Always wash your hands after playing with, feeding, or cleaning up after your pet. Keep pets away from people food and areas where food and drink are prepared, served, consumed, or stored. Always clean up dog poop from your yard and public areas.
  4. Keep kids safe around pets: Always supervise young children around pets, even trusted family pets. Children are often the victims of bites and scratches and are more likely to get seriously sick from diseases spread from pets. Teach children to wash their hands right after playing with pets or anything in the pet’s environment (cages, beds, food or water dishes).

Check out CDC’s pet resources