As pets have become more and more like members of the family, it's gotten easier to blur a few lines.
Think about it: Do you wash your hands after every treat giveaway, litter box cleaning or chin scratch? Are you paying attention when the your nieces and nephews start playing tug of war with your German shepherd? Did you catch your 4-year-old before he let the cat drink from his cereal bowl - this time?
As rewarding as sharing a home with pets can be, veterinarian Billy Griswold says there are some potential hazards families should keep in mind. He'll outline those risks - and easy, common-sense methods to mitigate them - in a talk Sept. 24 in Gilbert.
One obvious risk is dog bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about half the 800,000 people who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. Griswold will show parents and children dog-bite prevention postures and tips with the help of his own dog, Rana. The dog has completed the American Kennel Club's ten-step behavior training program to become a certified Canine Good Citizen.
Zoonotic diseases, those that can be transmitted from animals to people, pose another threat. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites are among what can be picked up without proper hygiene, and Griswold will address good sanitary practices for families to follow.
He will also discuss ways to keep pets safe from the risks humans inadvertently pose to animals, things like rough play, unattended toys or food, and a lack of research and planning before adopting a family pet.