Pregnant with Pets – Dangers of Dogs

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Ruby the dog

A few weeks ago, I wrote about cats and the expectant owner.   So what about dogs? Are dogs dangerous to pregnant owners? The answer is similar to what I said about cats. Generally dogs are safe to have when you pregnant, but some precautions should be taken.   Here are some tips to help keep pregnant women safe with dogs:

 

Make sure your pet is healthy and up to date on shots. A healthy pet is less likely to spread infection.   Are you a little behind on vaccinations? We’ll be happy to get your pet up to date, just give us a call at 573-875-3647.

 

Does Fido jump? Honestly, one of the biggest risks to the expectant mother from a dog is an impact to the stomach by a jumping dog. If your dog is a jumper, now is the perfect time to take him to obedience school. We have many excellent local training facilities and trainers, and you can call for a recommendation.

 

Obedience is important in general.   Does your dog have some annoying habits? There’s no better time to take him to a training class. It’s going to be even more important than ever that your dog obeys you and respects humans. Babies tend to behave unpredictably (from the dog’s perspective), make a lot of noise, and disrupt routines.   They also pull on tails and ears, and don’t necessarily respond to warnings from pets (like a growl). I’d recommend taking an obedience class with your pet. With the help of a trainer work on getting your dog used to having people handle every part of his body.   Dr. Katie occasionally has small visitors staying in her house, and she has found the commands “get in your bed” and “leave it” very helpful for keeping the children safe.

 

Wash your hands! As with any pet, we always recommend thoroughly washing hands after handling your dog. This is especially important while pregnant.   It’s also best to have someone else in your house clean up accidents or scoop poop. We all love puppy kisses, but it’s probably best to avoid letting your dog lick you when you’re expecting!

 

 

Remember, if you are expecting, it’s even more important for your pets to be healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Schedule an appointment today to get your pet checked out and up to date. Call us at 573-875-3647.

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Pregnant with Pets – Concerns about Cats

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Wear gloves and a mask!

In this photo, Dr. Katie is demonstrating proper personal protective equipment for litter box cleaning if you are pregnant. Pregnant women who clean the litter box should wear gloves and a mask, and thoroughly wash their hands when finished. Masks and disposable gloves are available at many stores and online.

Many people have had a lot of questions about being safe around animals during pregnancy.   The most commonly asked question is “Is it safe to be around cats when you’re expecting?” We hope to answer that question and maybe give a few more tips about being safe around pets when you or a loved one is expecting.

 

Is it safe to be around cats? The short answer is yes, but precautions should be taken to protect the mother. Generally when people ask this question, they have the disease toxoplasmosis in mind.   Toxoplasma is a parasite that can be very harmful to an unborn baby if the mother acquires the infection for the first time during pregnancy.   It can cause miscarriage, neurological defects (brain damage), blindness, and other symptoms. Some of these symptoms may not be apparent at birth, but they may become evident as the child grows.   Cats pick up this infection by ingesting small animals (mice, birds, etc). For this reason, we recommend keeping your cat indoors to minimize hunting of small prey.   Infected cats shed the parasite in the feces. It takes one or more days for the parasite to develop in the cat’s feces to an infective form.

 

How would a pregnant woman become infected with toxoplasma? Interestingly, most people acquire toxoplasma by eating undercooked meat or contaminated produce.   A pregnant woman can also become infected by inadvertently ingesting contaminated cat feces or inhaling litter dust while cleaning the litter box.

 

 

Here are some tips quoted directly from the Center of Disease Control on preventing toxoplasmosis (http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections-toxo.html):

  • Have someone who is healthy and not pregnant change the cat’s litter box daily. If this is not possible, wear gloves and clean the litter box every day, because the parasite found in cat feces needs one or more days after being passed to become infectious. Wash hands well with soap and water afterwards.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after any exposure to soil, sand, raw meat, or unwashed vegetables.
  • Cook all meat thoroughly; that is, to an internal temperature of 160° F and until it is no longer pink in the center or until the juices become colorless. Do not taste meat before it is fully cooked.
  • Freeze meat for several days before cooking to greatly reduce the chance of infection.
  • Wash all cutting boards and knives thoroughly with hot soapy water after each use.
  • Wash and/or peel all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Wear gloves when gardening or handling sand from a sandbox. Wash hands well afterward.
  • Avoid drinking untreated water, particularly when traveling in less developed countries.

 

 

Do you have questions? Feel free to give us a call at 573-875-3647. If you have an idea or a question you’d like answered on a blog, leave a comment here or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MyZooAnimalHospital)

 

 

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

Remember, if you are expecting, it’s even more important for your pets to be healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Schedule an appointment today to get your pet checked out and up to date. Call us at 573-875-3647.

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Winter is Coming (and so are the mice)…

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Rodents are present in Missouri year round, but when it starts to get cold outside we start to see more mice indoors.   Mice can be very annoying to get rid of.  Why should you try to rid the mice from your house?  Not only do they cause damage to homes and destroy food, they can spread a number of diseases.  Mouse urine can carry leptospirosis, bacteria that can infect you and your pets and causes serious liver or kidney damage!   We recommend vaccinating dogs for leptospirosis every year which can help prevent your dogs from picking up this disease.   Other diseases rodents can spread to humans include hantavirus, rat-bite fever, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis.

 

What should you do about a rodent infestation?  The Center of Disease Control has some tips on cleaning up an infestation at http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/index.html.

 

One thing we DON’T recommend is the use of poisons especially if you have children or pets.   Rodent poisons are designed to taste good, so even picky dogs will eat poison if they can get to it!   Even if you have the poison out of reach of your pet, your pet can ingest enough poison to be harmful by eating a poisoned rodent’s remains.

Rodent Poison

This is a picture of rat poison that a dog ingested.   The little dog that ate this is a very picky eater, but that didn’t stop him from eating the ENTIRE PACKAGE (including the package).  Luckily for this pet, his owner brought him in right away and we were able to get most of the poison out of his stomach and treat him before it was too late.

 

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What is toxoplasmosis and how can you protect yourself and your family from it?

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We’ve all heard that pregnant women should never clean the litter box.  Why is this recommendation made?   This blog will provide basic information on the disease and tips that will help prevent its spread to humans.

 

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoal parasite that is a leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S..  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 million people in the U.S. carry the protozoa, but are asymptomatic because their immune systems keep the parasite at bay. That means roughly 22.5% of the population has been infected at some point.  However, Toxoplasma becomes a big problem when a woman becomes infected for the first time during pregnancy OR in anyone with a compromised immune system.

 

The Life cycle of Toxoplasma

Cats are Toxoplasma’s definitive host.  Since cats are hunters by nature, they acquire toxoplasmosis by ingesting small animals that are infected.   The parasite then sets up in the cat’s body and begins shedding eggs (called oocysts).   The cat as Toxoplasma’s definitive host is the only animal in which oocysts are formed.   After a cat is infected, it can pass these eggs in the feces for weeks.  Humans and other animals get toxoplasmosis from eating these eggs. These eggs are small and light enough to become airborne with litter dust.  Kittens can be infected before birth while still in the uterus.  Therefore even indoor cats could be at risk for toxoplasmosis.  In any animal other than a cat (including humans), the parasite enters the host’s body tissues and forms a cyst full of bradyzoites, a slow moving form of the parasite.

 

Preventing Toxoplasmosis

-The most common way toxoplasmosis is spread is by eating contaminated food – unwashed vegetables or fruits or under-cooked meat.    You should always cook meat thoroughly and wash produce thoroughly.  Always use clean knives and cutting boards.  For example, use a different, clean cutting board for salad than for meat.

 

-Always wash your hands after cleaning the litter box.  The litter box should be cleaned daily as it takes 1 to 5 days for the oocysts to become infective.  If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, it is best to have someone else clean the litter box.  Pregnant women should avoid ANYTHING that has come into contact with cat feces.  This can include contaminated soil in the garden.  If you must clean the litter box while pregnant, wear disposable latex gloves and a dust mask and wash your hands after completing the task.

 

-We recommend keeping your cat indoors to reduce the likelihood of your cat becoming affected.  Do not get a new cat or kitten while pregnant.

 

Why is Toxoplasmosis a big deal in a pregnant woman?

The woman may not even have any symptoms if she becomes infected, but the parasite can be passed to the unborn child.  Unfortunately, the unborn child’s eyes and nervous system may be severely affected causing severe consequences.  Other potential consequences of infection during pregnancy can include miscarriage and still birth.   Children infected before birth may not show signs until later in life and could include loss of vision, mental disorders, and seizures.   If you have already been infected (prior to pregnancy) the risk of toxoplasmosis harming the unborn child is minimal.  Your doctor can perform a series of tests to determine if you have been infected recently or in the past.

 

If you would like to learn more about toxoplasmosis, please call and ask us or check out the CDC’s website.

 

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/

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