Can I Get Sick From My Pet? About Zoonotic Diseases

Can I Get Sick From My Pet? About Zoonotic Diseases

3 minute read

Contagious disease is a frequent concern these days. It seems like more days than not, we are hearing about a new disease in animals, humans or both. You may be wondering if you can get sick from your pet? This article will explore zoonotic diseases (or diseases that can spread between animals and humans). Before we get started, please know that the best source of health information is your doctor and veterinarian. This article provides general information, but you should always seek professional health care if you have concerns about your health or your pets. 

Zoonotic disease is one that transfers from animals to humans. These have been increasingly common in the last century as humans have developed agriculture and live ever closer with animals, however there is very little risk of disease transmission from your household pets. Using good basic hygiene skills like washing your hands after cleaning up after your pet, before eating or drinking, and keeping yourself and your pet vaccinated will prevent most disease spread. 

Zoonotic diseases in dogs and cats include; rabies, leptospirosis, salmonella, parasites like ring, hook, tape, round worm, campylobacteriosis, Giardia, cryptosporidosis, and skin infections. As mentioned above, a good deal of these diseases can be safely managed by washing hands, having good food handling safety, and following the recommendations of your & your pets health care providers. 

If you notice symptoms of disease in your pet such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, changes in eating and drinking, itching or skin irritation, visible parasites, etc. you should contact your veterinarian for an appointment. 

If you or your family members show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, abdominal pain or cramping, skin rash, itching or irritation, aches, headaches, etc. you should call your primary care doctor.  

Keep yourself and your pets safe from other sources of zoonotic disease like wildlife and insects. If you take your pets on out-of-home adventures, ensure that they do not eat or roll in roadkill or carcasses including dead fish. Check them daily for ticks and remove promptly with a pair of tweezers. You may also consider a flea, tick and lice preventative for your pets that can kill off these specific parasites and infestations before they grow and spread. 

We also recommend that you keep a close eye on your pets urination and defecation habits. Observing their stools can help you determine if they have gastrointestinal parasites or another disease. Your pet may need deworming treatments, especially when they are under 4 months of age. 

If your pet is showing signs of illness, do not allow them to socialize and wait until they are feeling better to take them to the groomer, dog park, daycare or other area where disease could spread to others. As you care for a sick pet, maintain good hygiene and if possible, keep them in a dedicated area of your home such as the living room or office. If your pet has visible parasites, get them treated right away and ask your veterinarian about cleaning your home to prevent spread to humans. 

For more information about known zoonotic diseases in pets, please visit the CDC's Healthy Pets Page here:

Remember, your veterinarian is the best source of information regarding pet health. Your doctor is the best source of information for your and your families health!

For more information about performing exams, understanding symptoms and treating the most common pet health emergencies, check out our full suite of pet first aid & CPR training courses.

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