I recently wrote about a Dutch study of zoonotic parasites in pet feces and pets’ haircoats. As part of that study, they asked pet owners about certain behaviours in their pets, and got some interesting answers.

60% of pets visit the bedroom (I’m surprised that’s not higher), with 45% of dogs and 62% of cats allowed on the bed, and 18% of dogs and 30% of cats allowed to sleep in the bed with the owner.  While the UK’s Chief Vet has warned against allowing pets into bedrooms and allowing them to sleep in people’s beds, I don’t have the same concerns – as long as common sense prevails.

45% of cats are "allowed" to jump on the kitchen sink. I don’t know if they truly mean allowed, or whether the cats simply do this. I certainly don’t "allow" my cat to be on the kitchen counter, but it’s certain possible he is when I’m not looking. There are some potential concerns about pets hanging around food handling areas, so it’s best to actively discourage this behaviour.

55% of owners clean their litterbox more often than twice a week. While daily cleaning is important for high risk people and high risk households, and is ideal for everyone, less frequent cleaning like this is acceptable for most people as long as it’s done properly (See our Resources page for details about litterboxes).

15% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners reported always washing their hands after contact with their animals. This is surprisingly high – I wonder if it’s really true, or whether some of those do it regularly but not always, or some think they should do it but don’t really. Certainly, regular handwashing is important and it’s ideal to do it after every animal contact, but that’s admittedly hard to do in a household. I try to have good hand hygiene practices but I certainly don’t always wash my hands everytime I should. Handwashing after every animal contact is more important for high risk people such as people with weakened immune systems.

39% of dog owners never clean up their dogs’ feces. WHAT??!!  That’s surprisingly high. When you consider how densely populated the Netherlands is, and that there are around 1.8 million dogs in the country, that’s a lot of dog poop. That could be one reason why they found that dogs that were allowed off the leash outside were much more likely to have Toxocara eggs on their coat.