All those hugs, kisses and snuggles with your favorite animal companion have been proven scientifically to help lower stress levels and improve overall mental health. However, getting too close to your beloved pet can also cause you to contract an unfortunate illness if you're not careful. What follows are 6 different ways in which your pet can make you sick.
1. Irritation & Allergies
Pet hair or dandruff can cause skin irritations, asthma attacks or other kinds of allergic reactions in humans. If you know that you are vulnerable, you can try using a hypoallergenic shampoo on your furry friend to see if it makes a difference. You may want to consider looking for a hypoallergenic animal for your next pet though, to prevent future issues.
Your pets could be hosting a whole variety of parasites inside of their bodies, such as roundworms and hookworms, which they can then pass on to you. The best way to avoid such transmission is to wash your hands regularly, especially after touching an animal, and to encourage your family members to the same.
3. Skin Infections
Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, a professor at St. George’s University, claims that "sometimes dogs will lick open wounds. There’s a likelihood of infection setting into the human because it’s an instance where humans are exposed to a particular strain of organisms which have survived in a harsh environment, and that can lead to potential risk.” This is why you should never let any animal lick your wounds.
4. Bird Flu
While bird flu outbreaks always make headlines, your pet budgie is unlikely to cause you any harm. However, people who like to trap wild birds should be particularly cautious, since placing a wild bird in a cage will likely stress them out, allowing any harmful organisms in their bodies to proliferate and make transmission easier.
Any reptile or amphibian owners need to watch out for salmonella since it is a cause of fever, nausea, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CPC) recommend that such pets are kept away from the kitchen and dining table, as well as out of sight of any kids under five.
6. Lyme Disease
This tick-borne disease is always an issue when you're hiking or camping with your dog. If your canine companion doesn't contract the disease itself, ticks can still make their way onto your own flesh transferring it to you. This is why it's important to always inspect your dog's coat and dispose of any ticks you find after spending time outdoors.