There are several different types of intestinal parasites that commonly infect dogs and cats that can also infect people. Examples include roundworms, hookworms, Giardia and many others. However, by taking some simple precautions, you can help keep yourself and your family safe from these parasites.
- Always wash your hands after handling your pet's feces or litter box. Consider wearing gloves when cleaning up after your pet. Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms and many others are spread through the feces. Washing your hands thoroughly after handling feces removes the possibility of contamination of food items with parasites or parasite eggs.
- Wash your hands before handling food. Do not risk contaminating your food or your family's food.
- Never dispose of your pet's feces or litter box waste in your garden or lawn. Pet feces are not appropriate to use as fertilizer because of the threat of contaminating the area with parasites.
- Always wash fruits and vegetables before consuming. Stray cats or dogs may still decide to use your garden as a litter box or potty area.
- Consider wearing gloves when gardening or working with soil. Wash your hands thoroughly when finished. This will help avoid exposure to parasites and parasite eggs found in the soil.
- Cover sandboxes where your children play when not in use. Stray cats may decide to use sandboxes as their litter box if allowed access to them.
- Make sure all meat is thoroughly cooked before eating. Some types of parasites, such as tapeworms or Trichinella may be passed through the ingestion of uncooked meat. Cooking renders the parasites non-infective.
- Avoid drinking water from sources that may be contaminated with animal feces. Parasites such as Giardia can easily be passed by drinking contaminated water. Drink bottled water if possible. If bottled water is not available, boil the water for a minimum of 5 minutes before drinking.
- Avoid walking barefoot in potentially contaminated sand or dirt. Hookworms can penetrate your skin if allowed contact with bare skin and cause uncomforable and unsightly skin lesions.
Taking these precautions should help keep you and your family safe from the many intestinal parasites that are known to be able to infect people and pets alike. Remember that you can become infected with parasites that come from free-roaming pets in your neighborhood as well as from your own pets.