Health care for children and youth
- A parent’s guide to the participation of children and teens in medical education
- Health research in children: What parents need to know
- International adoption: Health issues for families
- Making treatment decisions for babies, children and teens
- Paediatricians in Canada: Frequently asked questions
- Planning care for children and youth with serious medical conditions
- You and your child's doctor
Health information on the web
- Dieting: Information for parents, teachers and coaches
- Dieting: Information for teens
- Feeding your baby in the first year
- Food allergy vs. food intolerance: What is the difference and can I prevent them?
- Food safety at home
- Healthy eating for children
- Healthy snacks for children
- Iron needs of babies and children
- Nutrition for your young athlete
- Vegetarian diets for children and teens
- Vitamin D
- When your child is a picky eater
- Avoiding infection: What to do at the doctor’s office
- Growing up: Information for boys about puberty
- Growing up: Information for girls about puberty
- Handwashing for parents and children
- Healthy bowel habits for children
- Healthy sleep for your baby and child
- Healthy teeth for children
- Physical activity for children and youth
- Physical activity for children and youth with a chronic illness
- Skin care for your baby
- Teens and sleep: Why you need it and how to get enough
- When is my child ready for sports?
- 5-in-1 vaccine
- Chickenpox vaccine
- Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (dTap) vaccine
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- HPV vaccine for girls
- HPV vaccine: What teens need to know
- Influenza vaccine
- MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccine
- MMR vaccine: Myths and facts
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in babies: A guide for parents
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in children and teens: A guide for parents
- Rotavirus vaccine
- Vaccination and your child
Healthy pets, healthy people: How to avoid the diseases that pets can spread to people
Pets are good for people. They provide joy, can help improve our health, and help teach children values and social skills. But some pets can carry diseases or may be dangerous for young children.
A zoonose is a disease that you can get from animals, especially when you have close contact with them.
Like people, all animals carry germs. In Canada, your chances of getting a disease from an animal are small. It’s still a good idea to know what to look for in your pet and how to avoid getting sick from an animal.
How can we prevent diseases from spreading from pets to people?
Several factors affect whether a disease will spread from an animal to a human.
Pet health care: The best way to avoid catching a disease from your pet is to make sure your pet is healthy.
- Get your pet from a source you trust (talk to a veterinarian for suggestions).
- Make sure your pet sees the vet regularly and has all necessary vaccinations.
- Keep a close watch on your pet’s contact with other animals that might carry disease.
Handwashing: Make sure you and all family members wash their hands after handling pets. Clean up carefully after your pets. Wash your hands after cleaning litter boxes, cages, or disposing of pet waste.
When my dog sneezes will I catch a cold?
People don’t catch colds or the flu from most pets. Here are some diseases that DO NOT normally spread from pets to people:
- cat leukemia;
- cat immunodeficiency (sometimes called feline AIDS);
- systemic fungal infections;
- Lyme disease;
- influenza, colds, sore throats.
What about bites and scratches?
- Most diseases spread from pets to people through biting, scratching or direct contact. The first step to prevent injuries is to train your dog or cat not to bite. Never leave a young child alone with an animal.
- When a pet scratches you, clean it right away with soap and water. You probably won’t need more treatment if your immune system is working normally.
- Cat bites are usually thin and deep and may not look very serious. But germs from the cat’s mouth can get into your skin and cause infection. See your doctor, because you may need antibiotics. If after seeing your doctor, you show signs of infection such as redness, swelling, warmth, oozing of pus or fever, contact your doctor again.
- Dog bites may look worse, but they’re usually less serious. Dog bites don’t need antibiotics as often. Contact your doctor.
- When a bite breaks the skin, call your local public health unit or doctor if ANY of the following applies:
- the animal is not yours,
- the bite is on the head or neck,
- the wound is serious,
- you or your child didn’t do anything that might cause the animal to bite,
- the animal is not acting normally, or
- the animal seems sick.
- If an animal bites for no obvious reason, it may be a sign that it has rabies. Rabies is not common, but when an animal has it, it is always fatal. That’s why health officials (public health and your doctor) will make sure that the biting incident is investigated. The animal must be examined and the person who was bitten will get preventive treatment if needed.
- You should talk to a doctor or someone from your local public health office if you or your child is bitten by a wild or farm animal or if you or your child has had any contact with a bat. They will investigate and advise whether preventive treatment for rabies is necessary.
What are the most common diseases that spread from animals to people?
Germs can also spread from animals if people come in contact with urine, feces or sores on the pet. They can also be spread through the air by coughs or sneezes, although this is less common. The chart below describes those type of infections.
You may want to pay special attention to the diseases that are carried by the kind of animal you have, or are thinking of getting.
|Which pets can carry infection?||Name of infection||How does infection pass from pets to people?||What happens if I get it?||Tips for prevention|
|Cryptosporidium – parasite that causes a highly contagious intestinal disease||
||*Watery diarrhea and severe stomach cramps are common symptoms.
|Rabies –a virus that attacks the brain.||
|Ringworm (Dermaphytosis) – different kinds of fungus that can cause rash||
|Birds can also carry, and transmit, Campylobacter, Giardia, ringworm (see Cats and Dogs, above), Salmonella (see Reptiles, below)||Psittacosis (Chlamydophila or parrot fever) – bacteria that can cause pneumonia||Breathing in fecal dust or by contact with droppings, or eye, beak secretions of birds: wild (eg., pigeons), tame (eg., parakeets, love birds, macaws and parrots) and poultry (eg., turkeys).||
|Ferrets can carry and transmit rabies, Campylobacter, ringworm, and Salmonella|
|Rabbits can carry, and transmit, rabies, ringworm, and Salmonella|
|Rodents can also carry, and transmit Campylobacter, Giardia, rabies, ringworm, Salmonella||Hantavirus – virus common in rodents (eg., deer mice, white-footed mice) that can attack the lungs.||* Contact with infected rodents, their droppings or nests, or breathing in virus particles from rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
|Reptiles and amphibians can also carry, and transmit, Cryptosporidum and Giardia||
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Infectious Diseases and Immunization Committee
Last Updated: November 2010