Stephanie Stefanovic

Catching a cold
If you’re worried about getting too close to your pets when you have a cold or flu, don’t be. According to infectious disease expert William Schaffner, M.D., pets can neither catch nor spread human viruses. Even someone who pets your dog or cat after you is unlikely to catch your virus, Schaffner says. Cats and dogs can get colds, but this is usually due to a poor state of wellbeing, as opposed to germ exposure. If your pet has a cold, it is recommended that you get them checked out by a vet, as this is usually a sign of other health problems.

Smoking kills pets too
Research from Clare Knottenbelt, Professor of Small Animal Medicine and Oncology at the University of Glasgow in the UK, and colleagues, has shown that dogs living in smoking households ingest a significant amount of tobacco smoke. In their latest study, the team sought to analyse nicotine levels in pets’ fur and determine whether these levels were associated with any health issues. The team found that compared to pets living in non-smoking households, pets in smoking households may be at greater risk for cell damage, certain cancers and weight gain. They also found that cats are most at risk because they ingest more smoke than dogs (whether they have outdoor access or not), and possibly due to their self-grooming habits, which cause them to ingest more tobacco toxins than dogs. The team suggests that pet owners smoke outside, and try to limit their smoking habit as much as possible.

Feeding pets ‘people’ food
While it is generally best to stick with pet food, there are some human foods that can actually be good for pets. One example is eggs, which are a great source of protein for cats and dogs. Just make sure they are cooked, as raw eggs may harm your pet. Oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel) are also good for both cats and dogs, as it supports their immune system and helps to maintain a shiny coat. Just like the eggs, make sure the fish is cooked. Vegetables can also make a great addition to your pets’ diet, as long as they don’t have any added salt. Good options include green beans, puréed pumpkin, chopped carrots and broccoli. However, make sure these foods have not come into contact with any of the following; onions, grapes and raisins, bread dough, alcohol and of course, chocolate. These foods can be extremely harmful to pets.