By Dr. Butch Schroyer
We love our pets and they can bring joy to the whole family, especially children.
As a veterinarian, I get to see the joy of pet ownership every day. So as we bring pets into our homes, what do we need to think about in order to safely enjoy the experience?
We should consider the age and mobility of the people in the family.
Young children need to have pets that will not injure them or be injured.
Rapidly growing dogs like labs, German shepherds and border collies can innocently knock toddlers down and cause injury.
Conversely, a teacup poodle can play with a small child safely.
So it becomes important to match the choice of pet by its size and demeanor as much as it is to match the new owner’s ability to care for the pet.
Fortunately, there are only a few zoonotic diseases (human to pet and pet to human) to worry about.
Rabies is considered to be uniformly fatal, but proper vaccination can lower the risk to nearly zero.
Issues with intestinal parasites can be minimized with good hygiene – washing of the hands after handling the pet and keeping feces picked up from the yard or litter box and properly disposed.
The most common intestinal parasite that dogs and cats might transmit is Giardia, which can cause diarrhea in us and our pets.
At our office, we use a specific test that can identify the parasite. Proper treatment then can be prescribed.
Almost all of our pets have teeth, so bites can be an issue.
It’s important to learn to read body language in pets to minimize danger.
When fearful, a dog will pin back his ears, and the tail will be tucked. If aggressive, the dog’s ears are erect and forward, hair bristled up on their back, tail up, growling and exposed teeth are barred.
As for cats, hissing, a twitching tail and puffed up hair can indicate anxiety or anger.
So, enjoy your pets, and let your veterinarian help keep you and your pets safe and healthy.
Dr. Butch Schroyer, is the Chief of Staff at the Animal Care Clinic in Palomar Shopping Centre in Lexington.