Ponti Veterinary Hospital

25007 E Wellesley Avenue
Otis Orchards, WA 99027




Your Pet, Your Health

courtesy of Phoenix Lab

Pets provide many healthy benefits for people.  Studies have shown that owning a pet can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as decreasing heart attack mortality by 3%.     Pet owners also have better psychological well-being.  This includes decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation.  Children experience positive self-esteem by owning a pet and score significantly higher on empathy and pro-social orientation scales.     

Pets also provide opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, as well as increasing opportunities for socialization.  70% of families report an increase in happiness and fun subsequent to a pet acquisition. 

That's the upside, but it is important to note that despite all the benefits of pet ownership, there are cautions.  Animals can transmit zoonotic diseases, that is, illnesses that can be transmitted from animal to human.   Keep in mind that it is unlikely that just owning or touching a pet would cause illness.

The number one way to protect yourself is simple, wash your hands after contact with animals or their feces.  

There are people, depending on their age or health status and immunity, who may be at greater risk of getting sick.  

These people include:  

Infants and children less than 5 years of age          
The Elderly          
Pregnant women          
People undergoing cancer treatment          
People who have received organ transplants          
People with HIV/AIDS       

The most dangerous, but fortunately rarest zoonotic disease is rabies.  Rabies is caused by a virus and can be carried and transmitted by any mammal.  Cats and dogs should always be routinely vaccinated against rabies.   This protects them from contracting rabies from wild animals and transmitting it to their humans.   Mammals can also carry ticks that are infected with rickettsial diseases such as Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease.


Your wonderful, lovable pup can carry a variety of germs.  Puppies especially may transmit Campylobacter in their feces.  This bacteria causes diarrhea in humans.
Puppy feces can also carry eggs and larvae from roundworms and hookworms that, if accidentally ingested, may cause visceral or ocular larval migraines in people.
These diseases can cause impaired vision or blindness as well as liver damage.  Studies have shown that soil is widely contaminated with the infective stage larvae of these worms.  Because children play in the dirt, they are at increased risk for exposure.  To limit or avoid this risk, immediately pick up feces from the yard and practice good hygiene and sanitation.  The vet can recommend routine worming and fecal examinations. 
Dogs and humans can contract diseases from the environment, such as Giardia and Leptospirosis.  Humans usually contract these from water contaminated by wild animals.  Rarely, dogs can be a source of infection through their urine or feces.  
Ringworm or Sarcoptic Mange can affect dogs.  The symptoms are hair loss and in the case of mange, intense itching.  Humans can become infected by close contact with the hair coat of affected dogs.


Your furry prince/princess can carry diseases in their feces or through their bites or scratches.  Cat Scratch Fever is a bacterial infection caused by bites or scratches.  Some people seem to be more susceptible to this disease than others.  Decrease the likelihood of transmission by trimming your cat's nails or using cat nail covers.
Another disease that can come from cats is Toxoplasmosis.  This parasitic organism lives in the soil and can be contracted by cats that hunt and eat wild rodents.  Of particular concern is the transmission to pregnant women.  

It is vital that pregnant women avoid changing litter boxes (the organisms can be inhaled in the dust).  

Kitten feces can also carry Roundworm eggs and larvae.  If these are accidentally ingested, the eyes and liver may be damaged.  Ringworm fungus can be carried on the fur of adult cats or kittens and humans can become infected through skin cuts or scrapes after close contact with these pets.




Frogs, toads, fish and the water they live in can carry bacteria that may cause illness in people.  Turtles that have a shell diameter less than 4 inches are of particular concern.  All of these types of pets may carry a bacterium called Salmonella.  The symptoms of infection in humans include severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and even death if untreated.  The transmission of this disease is greatly reduced simply by good hand washing after touching these pets.  Their habitats should never be cleaned or kept in the kitchen or other food preparation areas.

Fish can carry Mycobacterium.  There is controversy over whether or not the species of mycobacterium that live in fresh water can cause local skin irritations in humans. Individuals who are immuno-compromised and young children should avoid handling fish and aquarium tank water without gloves.

Be aware of rats or mice used as food sources for snakes.  Wild rodents can carry the Lympocytic Choriomeningitis Virus and infect pet rodents sold in pet stores or breeding facilities, as well as in the home.  This virus can cause severe flu-like symptoms in humans.



Pocket pet refers to rats, mice, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, or chinchillas.  These pets are usually kept in cages but may still become infected with Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus.  This virus can cause severe flu-like symptoms in humans.   
These pets can also carry Salmonella bacteria that may cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and even death in humans.  Again, thorough and proper hand washing and cage cleaning greatly reduces the risk of infection.         


Different types of birds can carry different diseases.  Baby chicks and ducklings may carry Salmonella. Parakeets and parrots as well as wild birds can carry Chlamydia Psittaci.  This bacterium causes Psittacosis in humans.  The symptoms of this disease include severe pneumonia and even death.  Wearing gloves when changing bird cages and cleaning the cages in a well-ventilated area greatly decreases the likelihood of contracting these diseases.