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Healthy Paws: Can I Catch That From My Pet? No!

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Can I catch that from my pet? This is a common question we hear as veterinarians, and as such have made this a recurring topic. This week we debunk some myths and talk about stuff pets are sometimes blamed for — but are highly unlikely to have been obtained from your pet.

Zoonotic diseases are infectious illnesses — think viruses, bacterial infections, fungal infections, or parasites — that can be spread between animals and humans. Zoonotic diseases can be spread both ways, from animal to person AND from person to animal.

In veterinary medicine, we take zoonotic diseases very seriously to keep both the pets we care for and their humans healthy! That said, we have had, at times needed to field questions about diseases that perhaps a misinformed friend, “Dr. Google” and on occasion human medical doctors have blamed on the pets.

Pinworms & Head Lice 

Pinworms is an intestinal worm that is commonly found in young school-aged children. The primary symptom is having an itchy rear-end and they are passed easily from child to child — mostly because children don’t think to wash their hands after scratching their bums.

Sandboxes can also be common places for pinworms to pass between children. The important thing to know is that pinworms do not infect dogs and cats, so your pets are innocent.

Head Lice are tiny insects that love to live on human heads and hair, feeding on human blood. They often cause an itchy scalp and the lice or eggs may be visible on close inspection. There are many types of lice that exist, but the human head louse only wants to live on people. You won’t find these lice on other animals, so no need to inspect Fluffy.

Strep Throat

Streptococcal pharyngitis or “strep throat” is caused by a bacterial infection from Streptococcus pyogenes (group A strep). The natural host for this bacteria is humans. Some people even carry this bacteria as part of their normal flora without having symptoms. This bacteria is not found on our pets, except very transiently — i.e. for a day or two, but it doesn’t truly colonize in dogs.

The reality is that if you catch strep throat, you got it from another human. Some human doctors will request that dogs in the household be treated in family situations where people are repeatedly getting infected. The only time this remotely almost makes sense is if all the humans are also treated at the same time — but even then, the human carrier in the family will likely continue to be a carrier and continue to be a source of repeated infections.

Strep throat: https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/strep-throat.html

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can infect both dogs and humans, but you can’t catch it directly from Fido. Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease, meaning that ticks carry this disease transmit it to a dog or person that they bite for a blood-meal. This is one of the many reasons we recommend year-round flea and tick prevention and annual screening for Lyme disease for all dogs!

It’s also why people should check themselves thoroughly for ticks after spending time in the woods… ticks are very skilled at crawling up under a pant leg or sleeve.

Lyme disease in people: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html

Lyme disease in dogs: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/lyme-disease.aspx

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Lyon Park & Ashton Heights’ biennial home & garden biennial tour is back. The tour will include contemporary custom homes, older historic bungalows as well as renovated properties. One of the stunning homes on the tour is pictured above.  In addition to beautiful & unique homes, the Villa & Vistas ’22 event will conclude with a festive reception at the Lyon Park Community Center at 414 N Fillmore Street, Arlington VA 22201. What could be better right?

All proceeds from this event will go to the Lyon Park Citizens Association (LPCA) towards our neighborhood jewel & hub, the Lyon Park Community Center (LPCC).

When: Sunday, October 2nd, Noon – 4 PM. 

Where: Meet to get your tickets and the tour map at the Lyon Park Community Center (414 N Fillmore Street) We will have a table with information outside.

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The Pink Carpet Event Charity Fashion Show will feature our fabulous breast cancer survivors slaying the runway! Designers from Baltimore and the Washington, DC Metropolitan area will bring exquisite fashion and glamour to this event. Professional male and female designs

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