Can Dogs Get Humans Sick?
Now more than ever, we know how easily one can spread an infectious illness to another.
While most are aware of the many diseases we can catch from other humans, some pet owners have no idea about the illnesses we can catch from our canine friends.
So can dogs get humans sick?
In this article we will dive into the details of zoonotic illness in our canine friends, and help you better understand the diseases that are most commonly spread from dog to human.
What Is A Zoonotic Illness?
When referring to an illness that can be passed from animals to humans, this is considered a zoonotic disease.
Zoonosis is a term used to describe any infectious agent that can be transferred from animal to human, as well as human to animal in some cases.
There are many forms of zoonotic disease in the world, one of which can be found in our canine friends.
Can My Dog Get Me Sick?
Yes, your dog does have the ability to get you sick in some cases.
While most canine illnesses impact dogs specifically, there is a small percentage of infectious conditions that pose a risk to everyone in your home.
The threat is nowhere near high enough to shy away from being a pet owner, but it is a risk you should always be aware of.
Thankfully, most zoonotic diseases in dogs can be prevented in humans with the use of basic hygiene practices and education around the subject.
As long as you speak with your veterinarian about the zoonotic disease in your area, you are already ahead of the game.
How Do Dogs Spread Germs To Humans?
Dogs can spread germs to humans just like we spread germs; through forms of bodily secretion.
Different types of zoonotic diseases in dogs can be spread through contact with an infected dog’s saliva, stool, urine, and even skin.
Each condition typically has a most common route of transmission, so education on the specific illness in question is essential.
Not only can dogs spread zoonotic disease through contact with infected secretions, there is also a risk of catching infectious agents from the fleas and ticks on their body.
While you may not be able to catch a flea or tick-borne illness from your dog directly, you certainly can when these critters make their way to your skin.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Thankfully, most dogs will never make their owners sick.
While most of us will be protected through the use of standard hygiene and education, there are some humans that are more at risk than others.
The most at risk individuals to catching zoonotic disease are those that are immune compromised in any way.
Some of the situations that fall into this category include those with the following:
- Those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Those with HIV/AIDS
- Those who are elderly
- Those with any form of chronic disease
- Those with an autoimmune disease
- Those taking immunosuppressants
- Those who are pregnant
If you fall into any of the categories mentioned above, we suggest speaking with your vet about the best ways to stay safe around animals.
You can still be a proud pet parent if you are experiencing any of the above scenarios, but it’s always best to be safe.
What Illnesses Can You Catch From A Dog?
Now that you are aware of the fact that dogs can make humans sick in some situations, it’s time to discuss the most common illnesses that people catch from our furry friends.
Though there are many zoonotic illnesses out there, let’s break down the ones we see most often.
Intestinal parasites are extremely common in our canine friends.
Virtually every pup will be exposed to one of these intestinal invaders at some point, as they hide in every corner of the world around them.
Not only do intestinal parasites love to make a home in your dog’s digestive tract, they are happy to hangout in ours as well.
Intestinal parasites like hookworms and roundworms can be transmitted to humans by coming in contact with infected stool and vomit.
Though it is not likely that we will ever consume our pups infected waste, you can never rule out the possibility.
Not only can you catch these worms directly from your dog in some situations, you can also come in contact with parasitic eggs they leave in your soil.
Due to this threat, it’s important to have your dog on a regular deworming routine, as well as monthly heartworm prevention.
Ringworm is another zoonotic condition that can easily be passed from dog to human.
Ringworm is a fungus that invades the hair follicles of the skin, resulting in irritated, ring-like lesions.
Ringworm is passed to others when they come in contact with a dog’s lesion, which is very easy to do when offering our pup daily cuddles.
Because of this, we always suggest scanning your dog’s skin regularly for any abnormal irritation or hair loss.
Giardia is another microscopic invader that can be passed from dog to human.
Unlike the intestinal parasites we mentioned above, giardia is a protozoan parasite that is not a worm at all.
Giardia is a one-celled parasitic species that invades the digestive tract of their host.
Once giardia makes its way into the body, a few days of severe diarrhea are typically to follow.
Anytime a dog is diagnosed with giardia, it’s essential for the owner to wash their hands thoroughly after coming in contact with their dog’s waste.
As long as you practice good hygiene until your dog’s giardia is treated, you should be able to avoid any uncomfortable GI symptoms.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic illness that can cause serious illness in both dogs and humans alike.
This is an aggressive bacteria that can often hide out in contaminated water or soil, leading to serious illness when a dog consumes either option.
Once your dog has become infected with leptospirosis, they can pass the bacteria on to their humans when we come in contact with their contaminated urine.
Leptospirosis is a dangerous illness due to the fact that it can cause serious damage to the kidney and liver.
An untreated case of leptospirosis can be fatal for both dogs and humans, making it essential to have your dog vaccinated for leptospirosis if it is present in your area.
Flea & Tick Disease
Though dogs may not be able to transfer fleas and tick disease to their owners directly, the ectoparasites on their body can always make their way to our skin.
Once an infected flea or tick bites the skin of a human, they can transfer any infectious bacteria or viruses they harbor.
Some of the most common flea and tick diseases that can be passed to humans include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Babesia, typhus, and bartonella.
This can happen to any pet owner, which is why it is so important to have your dog on monthly flea and tick prevention.
Though widespread vaccination protocols have limited this risk, rabies is a deadly virus that can be transmitted from dog to human.
The bite of an infected dog can transmit the rabies virus into the bloodstream, leading to the fatal infection that is seen around the world.
While some humans have survived rabies in the past, it is almost always fatal.
Thankfully, rabies can be prevented by vaccinating your dog for rabies as recommended by your veterinarian.
If you ever think you have been exposed to a rabid dog, you can also reach out to your doctor for post exposure rabies vaccines.
When Should I Contact My Doctor?
Due to education on zoonosis and vaccination protocols, most pet owners will never catch an illness from their dog.
However, if you are one of the unlucky few, it’s important to seek appropriate medical care.
We always suggest reaching out to your doctor if your dog has been diagnosed with a zoonotic illness, even if you have not developed any symptoms yourself.
Your doctor can offer you proper guidance to protect yourself going forward, as well as screen you for any developing complications.
When dealing with any form of zoonotic disease, it is always best to be safe.
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 12 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! More About Us