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Can your pet make you sick? Here's how you can stay healthy

Posted at 7:19 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 07:19:11-04

(WSYM) — Did you know pets can sometimes carry harmful germs that can make us sick, even when the pet appears to be just fine?

Consumer Reports has some tips to help you and your fine-feathered friends stay healthy.

2020 made backyard chickens an urban and suburban trend.

Memberships to the American Poultry Association rose in 2020, as cooped-in Americans started backyard flocks. But according to the CDC, those new flocks came with an explosion of salmonella outbreaks — not from eating the birds, but from handling them.

Bacteria can spread from live poultry via their feces. They walk in it, peck in it, and roll around in dirt and it can get on their feathers and beaks. That's why the CDC advises against cuddling or kissing your pet poultry.

And it's not just feathered pets that can make us sick; even animals that are healthy and well taken care of can carry germs like E. coli or salmonella. Keeping your animals' outdoor areas as tidy as possible can help reduce the amount of feces they track around.

And remove your outdoor shoes before you come inside.

It's also important to keep pets — especially cats that go in and out of a litter box — off your counters and tables. If that's not possible, at least clean those spaces before you prepare any food.

And your pet's food may also cause a risk, especially raw pet food, which can carry potentially harmful bacteria like listeria that can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

The best thing you can do to keep you and your pets healthy? Wash your hands! Anytime you've touched an animal or their food or bowls, head to the sink for at least a 20-second scrub with soap and water.