Basic hygiene is essential in preventing zoonosis (the transmission of animal diseases to humans). Parents must wash the family’s pets regularly and teach children about hands and mouths. Instruct children to wash their hands after playing with pets, after playing outdoors, before eating, and to wash often. Kids don’t wash their hands on their own. Parents must encourage this behavior.
Here are some easy ways to help protect your family from diseases carried by house pets:
- Wash your hands with soap and running water after touching feces.
- Take your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis and keep up with all vaccinations recommended for your area.
- If your dog bites you, wash the area right away with soap and water.
- Wash your hands after handling your pet—especially before eating or preparing food.
- People with weakened immune systems should take special precautions, including never letting pets lick them on the face or on an open cut or wound, never touching animal feces and never handling an animal that has diarrhea.
- Don’t let your pet drink from toilet bowls or eat feces.
- Schedule annual checkups and fecal examinations for your cats and dogs.
You can reduce the risk of zoonotic infection by keeping your family’s and pet’s indoor and outdoor environments clean:
- Remove your pet’s fecal matter from your lawn or surrounding outdoor environment daily. Feces can be bagged and put in the trash, burned or flushed down a toilet.
- Cover your children’s sandboxes when not in use.
- Use appropriate methods to reduce mosquito populations in your outdoor environment.
- Do not encourage wildlife around the home.
- Wear gloves when gardening.
Responsible Pet Owner Rules for Kids
- Talk to the dog in a normal voice. No screaming or yelling at him.
- Approach the dog quietly. Walk, don’t run. Make a fist and let him sniff you before you touch him.
- Pet the dog gently, on the back, from head to tail. No petting tail to head.
- Be kind to the dog. No hitting or kicking allowed. No jumping on the dog. No riding the dog like he’s a horse. No stepping on the dog’s toes. No dressing up the dog in doll’s clothes. No pulling tails or ears.
- Play fetch. No roughhousing. No tug-of-war. If you’re not sure, ask Mom or Dad.
- Remember that dogs get tired too. If the dog is sleeping, leave him alone.
- If the dog is in his crate, leave him alone. That means you play in another room or away from the crate. No sitting on top of the crate while the dog is in it. No putting food or toys in through the openings. When the dog is in his crate. Pretend there is a big DO NOT DISTURB sign on the crate door.
- If the dog is doing something wrong, tell him [name] “No” in a low, serious voice.
- If the dog does something right, sound happy and excited when you tell him, [name] “Good boy.”
- If you have permission to give commands to the dog, only give a one word command. Say “sit,” not “sit down.” Only say it once and only say it if you know how to make the dog do what you want.
- Try to make sure all visitors read this list or have it read to them. You are responsible for protecting your dog from people who might not know how to treat a dog.
- Some people food can make a dog really sick, so no sharing your snacks with the dog and no feeding him from the table.
- Be patient. Before you know it, the dog will be trained to accept commands from you and ready to be the friend you really want to have. In the meantime, practice giving commands to your stuffed animals.
Love your dog but respect him too.
Growing Up with Pets.com
Growing up with pets is an educational program devoted to bringing parents a resource for information and advice on how to help them foster strong healthy relationships between their children and their pets.
For specific guidelines on controlling zoonosis in your home and outdoor environment or for instructions on how to keep your household and outdoor environment or for instructions on how to keep your household and outdoor environment safe if your pet has been infected with parasites, visit www.capcvet.org.
For more information on how zoonotic diseases affect humans, visit www.cdc.gov.
Remember, the best advice regarding the health of your pet is available from our team.