How pampering your pooch could leave you at risk of disease

You may think of your dog as another human - but new statistics show this attitude can be damaging to your health.

These days our pets have become more than just our furry friends. We are spending more time and money on them than ever before, including buying them gifts, celebrating their birthdays and even taking them on pet-friendly holidays.

So, what exactly is wrong with this?

The Elanco Aussie Dog Survey found that as part of this familiarity, we're treating our dogs like humans, which can put us at risk of disease.

As more dogs are sleeping in their owners’ bed at night (27 per cent) than are sleeping outside the home (21 per cent), there's a greater concern that risky behaviour that could be helping to spread parasites, such as tapeworm, from dogs to people.

In addition to the one million dog owners sleeping with their dog each night, the survey reveals that two in three respondents aren’t concerned about their dog spreading parasites to people, so they're not taking adequate precautions. 

Dr Claude Stanislaus, Technical Veterinary Manager at Elanco Animal Health, says that while we love our dogs, a casual approach to dog hygiene can actually help spread nasty parasites to people.

“Unlike us dogs do not take daily showers, they stick their noses in each other’s bottoms, they sometimes eat animal poo if they find it, and we then hug them and invite them into our beds," he says.

"What a lot of people don’t realise is that we could also be inviting harmful parasites such as hydatid tapeworm into our bed, too.”

But they're not that dirty...

“Even if you have the cleanest, most well cared for dog, you can’t vouch for any of the canine friends that they hang out with. A lot of people don’t know that parasites like tapeworm and other intestinal worms can spread from dogs to people," Claude tells. "And while rare, cases of hydatid tapeworm being transferred from dogs to humans can lead to serious illness in people, and in very extreme cases, even death.”

The research also found that 31 per cent of all dog owners are not picking up after their dog poos in public. Claude warns that this behaviour could inadvertently be leading to health risks, as tapeworm can be spread to people through contact with dog poo.

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