Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is more common in humans than in pets, and transmission between people and their pets is possible but uncommon, says veterinarian Carol Maddox, a professor at the University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Pets more commonly carry Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, which is rarely infectious for people. However, all pets and people in a home where humans or animals are known to harbor MRSA should be tested for the bacterium, according to the AVMA.
Decisions about vaccinating pets are not one-size-fits-all because every animal's situation is different, but following the recommended core vaccine schedule is the best place to start to protect pet health. Vaccines are given to prevent infection from highly contagious and sometimes lethal diseases, such as canine parvovirus. The risk of vaccine reactions is low, according to the AVMA, and Oregon state public health veterinarian Emilio DeBess says that risk is far outweighed by the threat of contracting a serious illness.
Many common household and yard items can be toxic and even deadly for pets, and many owners aren't aware of the dangers of some items, according to a Petplan survey. Lesser-known dangers include tulip bulbs and cocoa mulch. The most common source of calls to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center in 2013 was human medications.
Providers began selling pet insurance about 30 years ago, but sales of policies only began taking off during the past decade, as more people started treating pets as family members and expecting access to pricier veterinary treatments. Policies vary in coverage and price, depending on a pet's age, general health and the extent of coverage. For more information, read AVMA's guidelines on pet insurance and more information to help clients decide whether it's right for them.
The American Red Cross has designated April as National Pet First Aid Awareness Month to promote awareness about the importance of disaster preparedness among pet owners. One expert advises owners to provide pets with proper identification such as a microchip or an ID tag and to have a pet emergency kit on hand, among other recommendations.