7 Ways Your Pet Could Be Making You Sick — and How to Fix Them

Your Dog’s Barking Is Stressing You Out

Have your neighbors had it up to their earlobes with your dog’s incessant barking? That’s enough to stress anyone out. When you yell, “Stop,” your pup thinks you’re barking along with him and will take that as encouragement to continue the behavior. Instead, teach him the quiet command. But first, you need to teach him to speak. Counterintuitive, we know.

Once your dog speaks when asked, immediately tell him to be quiet, then put a treat or toy near his nose. When he tries to eat or take the reward, he’ll stop barking. Once he’s quiet, praise him and give him a reward. If your dog barks out of fear or aggression, you’ve got a bigger issue. If that’s the case, the quiet command probably won’t work and you need to see your veterinarian.

Holding a dog treat
Wash your hands every time you handle your pet's food or treats.

You Feel Sick After Handling Your Dog’s Food

Pet food and treats don’t look very threatening, but they can increase your risk for salmonella poisoning. Data gatheredby the CDC found that during a single year, 70 people got sick from handling pet food that contained salmonella.

According to the CDC, the easiest way to avoid getting sick from pet food is to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds immediately after handling any type of pet food. It’s also a good idea to regularly clean your animal’s food bowl with soap and hot water.

You (and Your Pet) Are Constantly Itching From Flea Bites

No matter how clean your cat or dog is, fleas can affect any pet. And once the annoying parasites get into your home, it’s tough to get them out. The best way to avoid fleas is to use a regular preventive medication. Talk to your vet to find out which flea preventive product is right for your pet. If you’re already infested with the creatures, contact your veterinarian for treatment, wash all pet bedding and thoroughly vacuum all carpets. You might even consider pet-safe indoor and outdoor insecticides.

You Have Pet Allergies and Can’t Stop Sniffling

An estimated 10 percent of the population is allergic to pets. So chances are, you or someone you know starts coughing or sneezing when a cat or dog is present. But as long as your pet allergies aren’t severe, keeping allergies at bay shouldn’t be a problem.

Contrary to popular belief, most people aren’t allergic to fur; the real culprit is pet dander. Simply washing your hands after petting your cat or dog will help remove those allergens. Weekly pet baths can also help. And put washable slipcovers on your furniture and launder them frequently. If necessary, consider taking over-the-counter antihistamines or ask your doctor about allergy shots.

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