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Healthy Pets

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Topic Overview

Wash and clean

  • Wash or change your pet's bedding regularly.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after you handle any animal, including the fur or meat of dead animals. If you have no soap and water, use a gel hand sanitizer or alcohol-based hand wipe containing 60% to 90% ethyl alcohol or isopropanol.
  • Change and wash your clothes as soon as you come back home from handling animals at a petting zoo or farm.
  • Clean up carefully after an animal has vomited or had diarrhea. Wash or replace bedding. Use disinfectant to clean all hard surfaces that have been soiled.
  • In general, wash your hands before you eat and after you prepare food.
  • If there's a chance that a cat or mice walk on kitchen counters, clean counters often with a disinfectant.
  • Carefully clean up all rodent droppings you find indoors. Use rubber gloves and a spray disinfectant. Avoid stirring up and breathing in dust.

Avoid contact when you can

To lower your risk of getting a disease from an animal:

  • Avoid touching animal feces or urine.
  • Avoid touching an animal, then touching your face, food, or other things you'll touch later, such as a phone or a wallet.
  • Don't let an animal lick your mouth or face. Protect wounds from animal saliva.
  • Keep pets out of your bed.
  • Avoid wild animals. If you need to touch or move an injured or dead animal, wear gloves. Use caution.
  • Avoid touching dirt or sand where feces are likely to have been. This could be in a sandbox or a garden area. Wearing shoes and gloves helps protect you.

Help children stay healthy around animals

  • At a petting zoo or farm, avoid pacifier use. Watch for thumb-sucking and eating with unwashed hands.
  • Help with thorough hand-washing right after a child touches or handles an animal.
  • Do not allow children to handle turtles, baby chicks or ducklings, or other small pets. Young children tend to kiss or lick these types of animals. Some children may even try to swallow the smallest turtles and could choke.
  • Teach children to avoid animals they don't know and to always ask for permission before going near someone else's animal.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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