For wary parents, there’s all sorts of hazards to consider when sending children outdoors. Oppressive heat, sunburn, mosquito bites and ticks, stinging insects, wild animals. Need I go on? The same concern may be felt when taking pets out to play, considering that some of the critters a pet can bring home in its fur, its mouth or its innards can be passed on to humans.
The good news is that some simple precautions can make going outdoors safer for you and your family, pets included.
Heat: Monitor your pet in the sun, they can get sunburn and heatstroke too. Provide complete shade, and clean water, especially when out on hot days. Avoid taking pets out at the hottest times of day.
Insects: Follow your veterinarian’s advise on the use of heartworm, flea and tick preventives for your pet. Always do a tick check when returning from outdoors. Comb your pet and check them regularly for fleas and ticks. Learn how to remove a tick safely and without crushing it. Use flea, tick and insect repellent only as according to directions.
Roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, and botfly: Internal parasites can cause illness in your pet, and serious illness in humans, especially children. Have your pet checked routinely for parasites by the veterinarian. When children play outdoors, keep them away from areas that may have been contaminated by animal feces. Teach children to always wash hands after handling pets and before eating or handling food.
Rabies: Rabies is usually transmitted through the bite of an animal infected with the virus. We owe the lower number of rabies-infected animals each year in the U.S. to mandatory vaccination policies for animals. Call your county’s Public Health Department to find out if there are low-cost rabies vaccination clinics for dogs, cats and ferrets, to be held in your area. Initial vaccination must done by the time the animal is four months of age, or as soon as the animal is acquired if it is older. After initial vaccination, all animals must be revaccinated regularly, according to the type of vaccine used. Teach your children never to approach an animal they do not know, even if it appears friendly, and always supervise your pet when outdoors.
Keep an emergency first aid kit handy. Talk to your vet about first aid items you might need to treat your pet in an emergency. For more tips on how to keep your pet healthy, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) resources on the Internet at www.cdc.gov/healthypets/