What are they?

The vast majority of pets do not produce any illnesses in children, or indeed in the rest of the family. Fleas are fairly common in cats and dogs but can be controlled by regular de-fleaing. If your pet scratches a lot, take it to the vet.

Worms can be passed to children via the bowel motions of cats or dogs. Almost all puppies are born with roundworms (toxocara) and by 6 months about half still have worms. The worm eggs can live in dust for months, so worming is essential. Kittens and adult cats need worming too.

Some children are allergic to certain animals, often in fact to the mites in their coats. This can be overcome by washing the animal regularly in special solutions to get rid of the mites.

Toxoplasmosis is an infection with a small, single-celled micro-organism that can produce congenital abnormalities in a baby born to a mother who has the illness during pregnancy. It is spread by cats and poorly cooked meat.

What causes them?

• Poor hygiene.

• Fleas and mites

• Allergies to certain animals.

• Worms and other diseases in the animals themselves that can be transferred to humans.


• Never let animals lick your children’s faces or mouths.

• Wash your hands-and see that your children do-after handling pets.

• Always wash hands before meals if there is a pet in the house.

• Train your dog to use a particular part of the garden to open its bowels.

• Make worming a routine-don’t wait until you actually see worms. Ask your vet how often you should worm and what to use.

• Don’t forget that kittens and puppies need worming too.

• Keep your pet’s coat well groomed and free from fleas and mites.

• Never take your dog into food shops.

• Ensure that your dog and cat have their own beds and don’t sleep on yours.

• Never let your dog or cat eat from your food dishes. Give them their own and wash these separately from yours with a separate dishcloth or brush.

• Keep your dog well disciplined so that it comes when called and does not cause accidents on roads by running out uncontrolled.

• Don’t feed your pet in between meals, especially from the table-it will not only become a nuisance and spoil mealtimes for you but could transfer infections to your hands and then to you.

• If a child is allergic to an animal see your doctor to discuss a course of desensitizing injections. This often fails but can be worth a try.

• Never eat poorly cooked meat-you could get toxoplasmosis.

• If you are pregnant avoid handling cats’ litter at all and even if you are not pregnant do so wearing rubber gloves.


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