Pets are great. I know this from personal experience, being a long time dog owner.  Yet pets can and do transmit some nasty diseases.  Does this mean that we humans should abandon all of our pets?  Absolutely, not!  We need only be aware of some of the dangers and when necessary take the appropriate steps to prevent  problems.

Let’s start with man’s best friend the dog.  As cute as these canine companions are they have some nasty habits including eating anything and everything(whoops-sounds a lot like my buddies and me).  At times this includes pretty rotten food and even excrement.  They also revel in rolling in other dog’s waste.  Why?  I honestly don’t know what kind of evolutionary advantage such behavior might have, so I’ll leave that one to the experts.

Dogs transmit parasites which can invade human skin and cause some chronic itchy eruptions.  Furry dogs seem to catch a lot of ticks and poison oak which of course can make its way to you and yours.  Strep throat is another pleasant malady that you can get from your furry friend.  By the way, scientists have coined the word zoonoses to befuddle the average person and to denote diseases, which arise from animals and end up causing problems in humans.

Dog bites curiously enough are not nearly as dangerous as human or cat bites and do not always require antibiotics.

Cats are notorious for being the source of toxoplasmosis which, besides being another long word, represents a parasitic infection that in pregnant women and immunocompromised patients can cause serious diseases.  When a cat bites, it tears and rips the skin, making it easier for our friends the bacteria to enter the skin and wreak havoc in the form of cellulitus, a skin infection.  A common organism is Pasturella multiocida( feel free to drop that phrase at your next  party).

Reptiles harbor Salmonella,a potent bacteria which can make you quite ill.  Birds bring with them psittacosis, another not so pleasant bug.  And many other pets afford a nice way station for all kinds of ticks.

If you have pets, try to wash your hands after touching your pals.  If you’re pregnant or have cancer/HIV or are on Prednisone think twice about owning cats or reptiles.  Any animal bite should probably be evaluated by a physician.

Still, despite all of this I love my mutt.  If you ask my wife I even act like the dog on a regular basis!