For Your -- and Your Pet's -- Health
BY HIV Plus Editors
July 01 2009 12:00 AM ET
Following some simple guidelines can help keep your pets as healthy and as safe as possible, according to Pets Are Wonderful Support, San Francisco, and this in turn lowers your chances of health-related issues stemming from your companion animals.
> Feed your pet a high-quality commercial diet designed for your animal and his or her particular stage in life.
> Never feed animals raw or undercooked meats or unpasteurized milk.
> Never use a microwave to cook raw meat for pets, since it might not completely kill dangerous organisms in the food.
> Prevent your pets from eating their own feces and the feces of other animals.
> Provide plenty of clean, fresh water. Never let a pet drink from the toilet.
> Prevent your pets from eating food out of a trash can.
> Prevent your animals from hunting, killing, or eating other animals.
> Keep cats indoors so that they can't catch pathogens from mice, birds, or other animals. If your cat does go outdoors, consider putting bells on its collar to warn potential prey.
> Have all new pets examined by a veterinarian.
> Take your pets to the vet once each year for a checkup and whenever your animal develops diarrhea or becomes ill.
> Keep your pet up to date on its shots.
> Keep your pet free of worms and other parasites. If needed, work with your vet to develop a deworming program.
> Have your cat checked for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus. While these cannot be transmitted to humans, they can weaken your cat's immune system so that the animal contracts other illnesses that could be transmitted to you.
> Have your animal bathed, brushed, and combed as needed to keep its skin and coat healthy.
> Keep your pet's toenails trimmed to minimize the risk of your being scratched. If needed, talk with your vet about rubber caps that can be placed on your cat's nails as an alternative to declawing.
> Use good flea control. Talk with your vet about the best products for your animals.
> If your pet exhibits hair loss, have it checked immediately by your vet.
> Keep your pet's living and feeding areas clean. Wash your pet's bedding regularly.