You can catch a disease from your dog!

Narrated from: Dog Problems

A comprehensive list of zoonotic diseases and some simple precautions

If the dog starts sneezing, it’s only natural to get a little worried about whether or not humans can catch a pooch bug, especially if there are children in the house.

Common dog diseases are caused by germs that cannot affect humans. In short: you can’t catch the common cold from your dog. Coughs, colds and flu in dogs are caused by viruses that are different from those that make people sick.

However, you should be warned that you can catch diseases from hanging out with a dog or other animals. Such illnesses are known as “zoonotic diseases”.


Zoonotic diseases are transmitted by different parasites and bacteria. A well groomed pet dog is unlikely to become a carrier of such diseases, so homeless dogs are the main source of contamination.

Some zoonotic diseases can only infect you if you are bitten or scratched by a dog; others are transmitted via dog feces; finally, there are diseases that can be caught just by playing with a dog, especially if they are transmitted by ticks, fleas or other parasites.

Blood-transmitted diseases:

Rabies: rabies is the most dangerous disease you can contract from any animal. You have to get your pet vaccinated, and if another animal bites you, you must go to the doctor; the first signs of a rabies infection are exhibited when it’s too late to do anything about it.

If you don’t know what a bad thing rabies is, turn to Cujo (a novel about a rabid dog, written by Stephen King) for reference.

Feces-transmitted diseases:

Salmonella: another well known disease. When you catch salmonella it causes severe diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. 
Cryptosporidium Infection: a bacterial disease that causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever and nausea; your dog does not have to be sick to pass on this disease.

Campylobacter Infection: a bacterial disease that causes a mild to severe infection of the gastrointestinal system. The symptoms are: watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

Leptospirosis: a bacterial disease spread by dogs’ urine. It can survive for months once it gets into the soil or in the water. It rarely infects pets, but a sick dog shows no symptoms at all.

Toxocariasis: a parasitic disease; these worms develop inside a dog’s body, and their eggs exit with the feces. Humans can get infected only if they eat the eggs, but the eggs are very durable and can stick to contaminated surfaces. The infection is usually mild, but complications can cause blindness and swelling of the body's organs or central nervous system.

Parasite-transmitted diseases:

Hookworm infection: a dangerous parasite that infects the skin or the internal organs. People catch it if they eat hookworm eggs; dogs do not transmit the disease directly. However, one can catch hookworms if he eats contaminated dirt or walks barefoot over it.

Leishmania Infection: parasites that infect the skin or the internal organs; this disease is dog-based, but you can’t catch it from a dog. The carriers are small flies called sand-flies. They bite infected dogs and transfer the parasites to the next animal (or person) they bite.

Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. It causes flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache and pain in the muscle and/or joints; some individuals also develop a rash.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: a bacterial disease spread by ticks. It causes nausea and fever about 1-2 weeks after the bite.

Direct-contact diseases:

Ringworm: ringworm is not a parasitic disease; it is a form of fungi, and you can catch it from playing with an infected dog. It causes ring-shaped rashes to form on your skin, and/or patches of scaly skin on the scalp.


Preventing zoonotic diseases is not hard at all. Following the simple laws of hygiene usually proves sufficient to protect one’s family even if the dog gets a serious disease. Better yet, you can just make sure that Fido doesn’t get sick at all!

- wash your hands after playing with a dog
- always wash your hands before handling food
- wear gloves when handling raw meat
- make sure your children do not play in the dirt
- clean up the feces in your yard daily
- do not eat undercooked meat
- only consume thoroughly washed fruits and vegetables; it would be best to peel them anyway

Doggy care:
- have your pet vaccinated
- make regular trips to the vet
- monitor the dog for symptoms of an infection; take the dog to the vet if you are unsure of the kind of disease you are dealing with
- do not feed your dog with raw meat
- always keep the dog under supervision; do not allow it to play with unknown animals or to explore dirty areas
- keep the pet free from fleas and ticks; monitor the dog regularly and get rid of the parasites if you spot some
- make annual trips to the vet to have a feces probe test for parasites


One always needs to be careful, as there are diseases one can pick up from a dog. However, there is no reason to stress out. There is a much higher chance of catching a bug from another person than from your canine buddy!

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