Most of us are aware that some illnesses can pass from animals to humans. For example, every pregnant woman will be warned of the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from changing the kitty litter. And after the 1983 movie Cujo, based on the novel by Stephen King, almost everyone knows that humans can contract rabies from dogs. The illnesses that humans can get from animals are known as zoonoses. When animals get sick from humans, it’s known as a reverse zoonosis. There are a few reverse zoonoses that it’s possible for your dog to catch, and while it isn’t common, it can happen.

What Kinds of Illnesses Can Animals Get From Humans?

Admittedly, there’s much more well documented evidence of the illnesses that humans can catch from animals. And, generally speaking, these tend to be much more publicized, and reported. However, a recent review conducted by academics from the University of Florida did find 56 articles, from 56 different countries, over a thirty year period. These articles documented cases of reverse zoonoses, but the types of illnesses were very broad, and the animals involved were equally as varied. The review concluded that of these 56 cases, 38% were caused by bacteria, 29% had a viral cause, 21% were parasites, and 13% were fungal, or had multiple pathogens or other causes. The animals in these cases ranged from pets, to farmyard livestock, to wildlife.

Other experts have said that the actual number of cases is likely to be higher, as the animals illness may not be attributed to a human cause, or it simply may not have been reported. Having said that, reverse zoonoses are quite rare, but they can happen. Some say that viruses, and bacteria are evolving, so they may eventually evolve into a strain that can affect humans and animals alike. For now, there are a few illnesses that you can pass to your dog.

Flu

The first recorded fatal case of human to animal transmission of the H1N1 flu virus was in 2009, but it was human to cat. However, since that case, more cats, dogs, and in a few cases, ferrets have been diagnosed with H1N1 influenza, that appears to have been contracted from humans.

Flu symptoms in your dog will be similar to the symptoms you experience when you have the flu. Watch for signs or respiratory distress, and a lack of appetite.

Studies have suggested that pet’s exposure and reaction to human flu viruses is a little more common than was previously thought. It may be a good idea to avoid close contact with your dog, if you have a genuine flu.

You should be aware that there is a difference between a genuine flu, and a cold. A cold is a completely different virus to any influenza virus, and will often be much less severe. Experts believe that it’s highly unlikely for your dog to be able to catch your cold, and some experts say that dog colds, and people colds are very different strains of the virus.

Ringworm

Ringworm is probably one of the most common diseases that can be passed from humans to dogs, and from dogs to humans. Ringworm is also known as dermatophytosis, and it is an infection of the skin. It’s isn’t actually caused by a worm, but a fungus.

In both animals and people, ringworm causes small red circles, which can be itchy. In dogs, you may also see patches of baldness. You may not even notice any obvious signs of ringworm in your dog.

Ringworm is transmitted to dogs through direct contact with an infected person, or another infected animal. It can also be transmitted through contaminated objects, like towels, brushes, and clothes.

It usually responds to treatment, but does need to be taken seriously as it can cause scarring. If you have any suspicious skin lesions, call your doctor, and avoid having close contact with your dog. If your dog has ringworm, call your vet, and again, avoid having close contact.

Mumps

Mumps is a caused by a virus, and the symptoms in humans include fever, headache, and swollen parotid salivary glands in the neck. Mumps is fortunately rarely seen because of the MMR vaccine, but the authorities must be notified of any outbreaks. It’s mostly a childhood disease, but has been seen in adults, and in dogs.

Dogs with mumps have very similar symptoms to people, and it can be just as serious. If anyone you know has been diagnosed with mumps, you should prevent your dog from coming into contact with them.

MRSA

MRSA is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. It’s caused by bacteria that are antibiotic resistant. Symptoms include skin infections, pneumonia, septicaemia, and infections of recent surgery sites. It can cause other conditions as well in humans. It can be transmitted in both directions, so from human to dog, and from dog to human.

If someone you know has been diagnosed with MRSA, you will need to ensure that there is no contact with your dog. Exposure can mean that your dog becomes a carrier of the bacteria.

If you notice a wound on your dog that isn’t healing, you should take him to the vet. The vet will take a culture, and recommend the appropriate course of treatment. If you or someone in your home has been diagnosed with MRSA, your vet may recommend that your dog is swabbed, even if he has no symptoms, to screen for the infection.

Salmonella

When you think of Salmonella, you probably think of food poisoning. It’s true that most cases are caused by food poisoning. However, you can also contract Salmonella from coming into contact with infected animals, and likewise animals can contract it by coming into contact with infected humans. Humans, dogs, and other animal species with Salmonella all exhibit very similar symptoms. If your dog has contracted Salmonella, you should watch for fever, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, nausea and diarrhea.  Dogs do tend to be resistant to Salmonella, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no risk. If someone in your house has Salmonella, you will need to disinfect, and put a rigorous hygiene routine to ensure that your dog isn’t exposed.

Giardia

Giardia is also known as giardiasis, and it’s an infection that’s spread through drinking water, such as wells, streams, and lake. It can infect humans, dogs, cats, and other animals, and it can spread from species to species. The main symptom is diarrhea, so if you think there’s any possibility that you may have Giardia, then you will need to make sure that you avoid close contact with your dog, and begin a thorough hygiene routine.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, or TB is an infectious bacterial disease caused by a group of bacteria. TB can be found in almost all warm-blooded mammals. Symptoms include coughing, weight loss, lumps, abscesses, and bite wounds that won’t heal properly.

TB is more common in cattle, as they are a natural host, but it can infect dogs, and other pets as well. Your dog can contract TB in any number of ways, such as drinking infected milk, eating infected carcasses, or inhalation from close contact with an infected animal or person. He can also contract it if he had been bitten by an infected animal, or if he has a wound that comes into contact with bacteria in his environment.

If you dog has been diagnosed with TB then you should also be screened. It’s entirely possible that if one member of your household has been infected, then others will be as well.

Some studies suggest that it is difficult to prove a human to dog transmission of TB, however, a more recent study showed that all dogs who had been diagnosed with TB had come into contact with a person who had been diagnosed with the infection. This could mean that TB in dogs is more of a possibility than initially thought.

How To Help Prevent Your Dog From Getting Sick

You can help prevent your dog from getting sick by boosting his immune system, and making sure that he is as healthy as he can be. You need to make sure that he’s up to date on his vaccinations, and getting regular exercise appropriate for his breeding and energy levels.

You’ll also need to be sure that he eats a healthy, and nutritional diet, and drinks plenty of water. You can also check to see if there’s any nutrients that aren’t covered by his regular food, and offer him supplements.

A good hygiene routine for your dog, and your home can also help keep him healthy. You should also develop a relationship with your dog’s veterinarian, as they will always be able to give you advice should you have any concerns.

Sources

  1. 5 Illnesses You Can Give To Your Pet, NewsMax
  2. Eight Diseases That Pets Can Pick Up From People, Telegraph
  3. Can You Make Your Dog Sick?, PetMD
Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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