By Dr_Trisha-Macnair Published 03/21/2016 09:56:00 | Views: 864

We are about to get a new Labrador puppy. It is the first time we have had a dog, and with 4 small children in the house, I am a bit worried about the health side of things. Are there any diseases that dogs can pass on, and what should we do to avoid them?

There are a number of infectious diseases which dogs can pass on to humans, so you do need to be aware of this risk, although I suspect most dog owners would tell you that this risk pales into insignificance next to the benefits of having a dog as a companion.

It's most important for both you and your puppy that, when he or she arrives, you get a Vet to give him or her the once-over. Of course, after this, it's important to keep the puppy as healthy as possible, with vaccinations, good diet and exercise, and regular check-ups. This will help cut down the risk of illness in your puppy.

Make sure your puppy learns which area of the garden he can use as a toilet. Make sure the children don't use this area and, ideally, clear it regularly yourself. Take great care if handling excreta.

There are also some more specific infections to consider:

  • Ticks and fleas

    There are some parasites that can jump from dogs to humans. Most of these generally prefer to live on the dog, but some, such as dog fleas, are showing an increasing ability to live just as happily on humans. Even if they don't survive on the humans, bites from fleas in the house and soft furnishings can be a nuisance. Ticks are also sometimes transferred accidentally when you stroke a dog's fur.

    Check your dog regularly for ticks and fleas, and treat them with preparations to prevent flea infestation. Ideally, get these from your vet as they can supply the more effective treatments.

  • Worms

    Worms can also be picked up from dogs, the greatest risk coming from worm eggs in a dog's faeces. These can cause toxocariasis (also known as Toxocara) and hydatid disease. Toxocariasis mostly affect children, where the worm larvae can cause allergic symptoms and, occasionally, blindness if they get stuck in the eye. Toxocariasis is also very dangerous for pregnant women, as it can lead to major damage and even death of her unborn child. Treat your dog regularly for worms and, teach your children good hygiene around your puppy, with regular hand washing, especially before meals.

    Hydatid disease, which can cause infections in the liver, lungs and brain, is mostly a problem in sheep farming areas. In the tropics, dogs can also pass on hookworms.

  • Fungal and viral infections

    Dogs are vulnerable to the fungal infections that cause ringworm (with spreading areas of hair loss), and these fungal infections can be passed on to humans.

  • Dog bites

    Dog bites can cause serious bleeding and transmit nasty infections. Always get them treated quickly and thoroughly.

    Rabies is a potentially lethal viral infection. Although the UK is so far free of rabies, you should be wary of dog bites abroad, as this can pass on the infection.

  • Dog Allergy

    Some people become allergic to dog dander (fur and fluff). In fact, it's an allergy to the proteins in the saliva that the animal licks onto their fur. Simple treatments, avoiding the animal, and keeping the house as clean as possible may help, but often there is not much you can do.

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By Dr_Trisha-Macnair 03/21/2016 09:56:00

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