Animals and Insects

Household Pets

Pets are valued members of many households. However, animals can also pass germs and diseases to humans. The chance that healthy dogs and cats will make you sick is small, but reptiles, such as turtles, snakes, and lizards, can easily transmit bacteria to their owners.

You can reduce the risks by practicing good personal hygiene, keeping pet areas clean, and keeping pets’ vaccines current. The following tips will help you enjoy a happy and healthy relationship with your pets.

Pets and Cleanliness
  • Wash your hands often, especially after touching animals or their treats, toys, leashes, bedding, etc.
  • Avoid raw animal-based pet treats (beef, pork, chicken, fish, or seafood), which carry the risk of Salmonella bacteria.
  • Make sure pets have their own feeding dishes and utensils that you clean separately from other household items.
  • Immediately clean and disinfect any surface contaminated with animal saliva, mucus, feces, urine, or blood.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect floors, feeding areas, and the sinks and tubs you use to wash pets.
  • Never allow pets onto counters or tables where you prepare food.
  • Don’t clean pet cages and tanks in your kitchen. Use a bucket and go outside if possible.
  • Do not let your pet share your plate or lick your—or your baby’s—face.
  • Keep all exotic pets—especially ferrets—away from your baby.
  • Never allow turtles, snakes, lizards, and iguanas or their cages near your baby. Reptiles can transmit Salmonella bacteria.
Be Ready For Baby: Your Pet’s Health
  • Check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog and cat are fully immunized and regularly treated for fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and other parasites, including roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm, and heartworm.
  • Check pets regularly for signs of ill health and take them to a vet immediately if anything is wrong.
  • Keep their claws trimmed to reduce the risk of scratches.
  • Train your pets not to jump on people.
Introducing Your Pet to Your Baby
  • Ask the veterinarian for tips before your baby arrives.
  • In the first few weeks, you will probably have a lot of visitors and the focus will be on you and the baby, so this could be a stressful time for your cat or dog.
  • Give your pet time to adjust and make the introduction to your baby a positive one for the pet.
  • Never leave small children and animals alone together.
Safety Tip for Pets and Toddlers
  • Don’t let toddlers use pets as a guide for walking.
  • Teach your children how to handle pets, for their safety and for the animal’s safety.
  • Supervise children less than 5 years of age when they are around animals.
  • Watch for warning signs from the pet, such as guarding its food and toys, etc.
  • Contact your health care provider if your child is bitten or scratched by any animal.

Household Pests: Insects and Rodents

In Canada, household pests range from very small insects and spiders to mice, rats, bats, squirrels, pigeons, and raccoons.

Pests enter our homes in order to get food, water, or shelter. They can be attracted by light, warmth, moisture, food, or smells. Prevention is the best approach. Even when pests do get into the house, you will rarely need to use pesticides. Simply removing their food supply and breeding sites is the most effective way to control them.

  • Never leave sources of food or water (including garbage) exposed.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Do not leave pets’ water and food out 24 hours a day.
  • Keep food in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers.
  • Regularly clean dark and/or humid places in your house.
  • Clear away small branches, grass, and debris that may be around the outside of the house.
  • Seal any entrance holes you discover on the inside or outside of your home.

Mice, rats, and other rodents can carry disease, some of which are spread by their urine and droppings. Breathing in the dust from droppings can cause illness so follow these safety tips.

Safe Clean-up Tips
  • Never sweep or vacuum dry droppings.
  • Wet the droppings and debris with a bleach and water solution before wiping up.
  • Wear rubber gloves and a dust mask.
  • Wash your hands completely after you finish cleaning up.
  • Change your clothing after cleanup and launder those clothes in hot water.
  • Wear gloves to dispose of dead rodents.

Make sure that children and pets cannot reach poisons and traps. Follow the directions when using pest control treatments.

Check yourself, other family members, and pets after spending time outdoors where ticks reside.

  • Ticks should be removed immediately with tweezers by applying gentle, steady pressure until they release their bite.

To Learn More…

Health Canada: www.hc-sc.gc.ca