Can Dogs Get Sick From Humans: Understanding Zoonotic Risks

Jane Davis

Note: If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we may receive a commission but at no extra cost to you

Pet owners often wonder about the health connections between themselves and their pets, especially concerning infectious diseases.

If you have a cough or a cold, could you pass it on to your canine companion?

Understanding the dynamics of zoonotic diseases, which can be transmitted between animals and humans, is key to maintaining a healthy environment for you and your pet.

Zoonosis, or the ability of a disease to jump from animals to humans and vice versa, does occur, but it’s not a common everyday event.

Responsible pet ownership means being aware of the few illnesses that can be shared between dogs and humans.

Key Takeaways

  • Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted between dogs and humans, but it’s rare.
  • Knowledge of common illnesses is vital for responsible pet ownership.
  • Most people can enjoy the benefits of companionship with minimal health risks.

The good news is that proper care and knowledge can considerably reduce the risks.

Most healthy people have little to worry about, as companionship with pets brings joy and well-being to numerous households across the US.

Understanding Zoonotic Diseases

When you think of zoonotic diseases, consider them as illnesses that can be transmitted between animals and humans.

Some of these diseases can go from humans to dogs, potentially leading to various health issues for your canine companion.

Bacteria and Viral Transmission from Humans to Dogs

Bacteria and viruses are responsible for many zoonotic diseases that can be passed from you to your dog.

For instance, MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a type of bacterial disease, can be transferred through skin contact if you have an open wound.

Similarly, certain flu viruses, including human influenza strains, like the seasonal flu or even COVID-19, can manifest in dogs as respiratory infections.

Maintaining good hygiene, like regular handwashing, prevents bacterial and viral transmission.

Canine Susceptibility to Human Illnesses

Dogs can be susceptible to certain illnesses you might face, including the common coldrespiratory illness, and more specific conditions like ringworm—a fungal infection caused by fungi.

Due to their close interaction with humans, dogs can also show flu-like symptoms from ailments such as the flu or canine influenza, initiated by coughing and sneezing.

It’s vital to contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has contracted a disease from you, as they can experience gastrointestinal issues or severe respiratory complications without proper care.

Common Illnesses and Conditions in Dogs

Understanding your dog’s various health issues ensures their well-being and timely treatment.

Here, we’ll explore two prominent categories of ailments your dog may encounter, focusing on gastrointestinal and dermatological conditions, including infections and parasites that commonly impact dogs.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

In dogs, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders can manifest through several symptoms, such as vomitingdiarrhealoss of appetitelethargy, and pain.

Common causes of these symptoms include:

  • Parasites: Intestinal worms like roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and protozoans like giardia can cause GI discomfort.
  • Infections: Bacterial infections like salmonella or campylobacter are often contracted from contaminated waterfood, or contact with infected feces.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders List:
    • Parasites: Roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, giardiasis
    • Infections: Salmonella, Campylobacteriosis
    • Symptoms: Diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite

Dermatological Issues and External Parasites

Dermatological issues affect your dog’s skin, coat, and ears, presenting as itchiness, rash, or hair loss. These can be caused by:

  • Fungal Infections: Dermatophytosis, is a common fungal infection that affects the skin.
  • Parasites: Fleas, ticks, and mites can lead to conditions like sarcoptic mange.
  • Dermatological and Parasite Issues List:
    • Fungal Infections: Dermatophytosis (Ringworm)
    • External Parasites: Fleas, ticks, mites, sarcoptic mange

If your dog exhibits signs of gastrointestinal disorders or dermatological issues, immediate veterinary care is crucial to relieve and prevent further complications.

Preventing and Managing Cross-Species Illness

Cross-species illnesses, also known as zoonotic diseases, can complicate your companionship with your dog. Understanding prevention and early response can protect your health and that of your pet.

Best Practices in Hygiene and Care

Maintaining a high standard of hygiene is critical to preventing the transmission of illnesses between you and your dog.

Ensure your dog receives regular veterinary care, including vaccinations, which are crucial for preventing various dog diseases.

Always wash your hands after handling your dog, especially if they show signs of illness, such as lethargynasal discharge, or vomiting.

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your pet’s environment daily to maintain proper sanitation.
  • Responsible Pet Ownership: Follow preventive practices like flea and tick control to minimize disease risk.
  • Education: Learn about common dog illnesses and how they can affect healthy people—information can be a powerful tool in prevention.

Recognizing and Responding to Symptoms

If your dog exhibits signs of illness such as diarrheapainredness, or neurological symptoms, seek immediate advice from a veterinarian. These symptoms can indicate serious conditions that require prompt attention.

  • Observe Behaviour: Watch for changes in your dog’s behavior or appetite. These can be early indicators of health issues.
  • Record Symptoms: Record any persistent symptoms and share them with your vet. This can assist with diagnosis and treatment.
  • Seek Help: Do not delay contacting a professional if your dog seems unwell or if you experience headachefever, or other concerning symptoms after contact with them.


Jane Davis

Hi, my name is Jane Davis, and I love dogs. I own a labrador retriever named Max. When I was growing up, we always had dogs at our house. They provide us with such unconditional love and companionship, and I can't imagine my life without one by my side.

This website does not provide pet medical advice. For professional advice regarding your pet's health, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your local area.