What Can I Catch From My Pet

Posted on: January 31, 2019

What Can I Catch From My Pet?


Many studies show the health benefits of dog ownership. Dogs not only provide comfort and companionship, but several studies have found that dogs decrease stress and promote relaxation. Dogs have positive impacts on nearly all life stages. They influence social, emotional, and cognitive development in children, promote an active lifestyle, and have even been able to detect oncoming epileptic seizures or the presence of certain cancers. But for all the positive benefits of keeping dogs, pet owners should be aware that dogs can carry germs that make people sick.


Although germs from dogs rarely spread to people, they might cause a variety of illnesses, ranging from minor skin infections to serious disease. To protect yourself and your family from getting sick:


Seek routine veterinary care for your pet and

Always wash your hands and the hands of children with running water and soap after contact with dogs, their stool, and their food.

By providing your pet with routine veterinary care and some simple health tips, you are less likely to get sick from touching, petting, or owning dogs in the United States.


Most Common:

  • Bartonella: AKA: Cat Scratch Fever

-Spread by fleas on cats: Cats transmit the organism when they are parasitized by fleas, scratch themselves and get infected flea dirt in their claws and scratch a person or another cat.

-In people, the inoculation site, a scratch from a claw containing bits of flea dirt, develops a small red bump called a papule. About two to three weeks following contact with the infected cat, the lymph node in the area will swell and become painful, and a fever will develop. These signs generally resolve on their own and the condition is minor though lymph node enlargement can persist for several months so it is recommended to see your primary physician.


  • Toxoplasmosis in Cats: This is a disease caused by protozoan organism called Toxoplasma gondii. It affects most animals notably sheep,cats,and humans but also insects, fish and earthworms may be carriers. Because of the risk to unborn children, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid cleaning the litterbox/ wear gloves when doing so.


  • Intestinal Worms: Hookworms, Roundworms and Tapeworms

-The dog tapeworm is a parasite spread to dogs, cats, and people through the ingestion of infected fleas. This parasite is common but rarely causes illness in pets or people. Infections can sometimes be detected by finding rice-like segments of the tapeworm crawling near the anus or in fresh bowel movements. In severe infections, pets can lose weight and have mild diarrhea.

-In people, children are more commonly infected but don’t usually show signs of disease. The best way to prevent infection in pets is to control the flea population in the environment.


-Dog hookworms are tiny worms that can spread through contact with contaminated soil or sand. Dogs can also become infected with hookworms through accidentally ingesting the parasite from the environment or through their mother’s milk or colostrum. Young puppies are most often affected and might have dark, bloody stool and anemia. Severe infections in some puppies can lead to death.

-People become infected with dog hookworms while walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on ground contaminated with stool of infected animals. Hookworm larvae enter the top layers of skin and cause an itchy reaction called cutaneous larva migrans. A red squiggly line might appear where the larvae have migrated under the skin. Symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment in 4-6 weeks.

-Prevention is best achieved by keeping pets on regular heartworm prevention and cleaning up feces regularly.


  • Rabies, a fatal neurologic disease in animals and people, is caused by a virus transmitted through saliva. Animals and people are most commonly infected through bites from rabid animals. Infected dogs might have a variety of signs, but most often have a sudden behavioral change and progressive paralysis. Rabies is prevented by vaccination and the vaccination is required by law.

-The first symptoms in people can start days to months after exposure and include generalized weakness, fever, and headache. Within a few days symptoms will progress to confusion, anxiety, behavioral changes, and delirium. If you have been bitten by a dog or other animal and feel that there is a risk for rabies, contact your health care provider right away. Once symptoms appear, it is almost always too late for treatment.



Less Common:


  • Giardia is a parasite that causes diarrhea in animals and people. Giardia is transmitted to animals and people through food or water contaminated with stool. If your pet is diagnosed with Giardia then it is in the environment that your pet has access to.

-Symptoms in animals and people include diarrhea, greasy stools, and dehydration. People can also have abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can last 1-2 weeks.


  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of people and animals that is transmitted through contaminated water and urine or other body fluids from an infected animal. It is difficult to detect early stages of leptospirosis in animals, but the disease can lead to kidney and liver failure if left untreated.

-Animals that commonly carry Lepto: Deer and other hoofed animals, raccoons, oppossums and skunks


-People who become infected with leptospirosis might not have any signs of the disease. Others will have nonspecific flu-like signs within 2-7 days after exposure. These symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment, but can reappear and lead to more severe disease.


  • Ringworm is a condition caused by a fungus that can infect skin, hair, and nails of both people and animals. Ringworm is transmitted from animals to people through direct contact with an infected animal’s skin or hair. Puppies and cats are most commonly affected and can have circular areas of hair loss anywhere on the body.

-Ringworm infections in people can appear on almost any area of the body. These infections are usually itchy. Redness, scaling, cracking of the skin, or a ring-shaped rash may occur. If the infection involves the scalp or beard, hair may fall out. Infected nails become discolored or thick and may possibly crumble.



  • Salmonella spreads to people through contaminated food (eggs and meat) or contact with stool of certain animals including dogs. Salmonella infections have been linked to some brands of dry dog food, treats, and chew toys like pig ears and to “raw food” diets for dogs. Salmonella can cause serious illness in people and animals.

-People exposed to Salmonella might have diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal cramps. Infants, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.


  • Sarcoptic mange is a parasitic skin disease that is caused by a tiny mite. Mange is transmitted between animals through close contact. In dogs, the mite causes severe itching and self-inflicted wounds from scratching.

-People can’t become infested with the canine version of sarcoptic mange, but they can have a minor local reaction from the mites if they come in contact with an infested dog.


Healthy habits

CDC recommends hand washing whenever you play or work with dogs.



  • Wash your hands with soap and running water after contact with dogs, dog saliva, or dog stool.
  • Be cautious with unfamiliar animals. Approach dogs with care, even if they seem friendly.
  • Pick up and dispose of dog stools, especially in areas where children might play. Cleaning up after your dog will help keep the area clean and reduce the risk of spreading disease to people or other animals.
  • Visit your veterinarian for routine evaluation and care to keep your dog healthy and to prevent infectious diseases.


If at any time you feel like your pet is not doing so well please visit your veterinarian. If you believe you may have caught something from your pet it is in both of your best interests to see your primary doctor.

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns at 859-781-2577.