As we all know, catching a cold or any other virus is a common occurrence for people. It’s easy to get sick from the simplest of actions, such as a kiss or unobstructed sneeze. But can a human get an illness from a dog? Interestingly enough, the answer is yes.
The good news is that most illnesses that dogs pass on to humans are usually preventable and treatable. The trick is to wash your hands and handle dogs carefully. If you happen to encounter drool or fecal matter, you will want to clean yourself thoroughly and as soon as possible.
Dog To Human Diseases
As a dog owner, it is still important to understand a bit more about the diseases that our beloved pets can carry and what to look for, just in case. Here are a few of the top diseases that humans can possibly catch from dogs:
- Ringworm: Probably the most contagious, but again, it is definitely preventable and treatable. Symptoms in dogs include skin lesions and patches of hair loss with a central red mark. In humans, the symptoms are circular red patches on the skin. For both people and pets, you can treat ringworm with prescription ointment or oral medication. Steps to preventing ringworm include washing your bedding in hot water at least once a month and avoiding sharing unwashed blankets or grooming tools with other dog owners.
- Hookworms: Feeding on a dog’s intestinal lining, hookworms can cause a potentially life-threatening blood loss, particularly in puppies. Pet feces can harbor hookworm eggs and can transfer to humans if contact is made with skin. While dogs with hookworm experience diarrhea and weight loss, humans may not show any signs of the disease at all. However, it is possible for people to get an itchy rash, cough, stomach pain, anemia, or loss of appetite. For both dogs and people, prescription antiparasitic drugs can treat hookworm. The best way to prevent hookworm or any type of parasite is to regularly pick up your dog’s feces so that eggs will not hatch as well as treating them with a monthly dewormer.
- Rabies: There is a good reason that rabies vaccinations are required by law: The high risk of fatality. For this reason, rabies is very rare here in the United States. In addition to foaming at the mouth, other rabies symptoms include behavioral changes, fever, loss of appetite, instability, hypersensitivity to light/touch/sound, and sadly, sudden death. If you believe your pet has been exposed, you should call your vet immediately. This is the same advice for humans, as well. Exposure to a rabid animal can cause flu-like symptoms, as well as itching at the site of the bite, anxiety, confusion, and hallucinations. As with animals, rabies in humans can also be fatal.
What About Parvovirus?
One disease that is not transmitted from dogs to humans is the parvovirus. But, it is very contagious between dogs through infected feces. Commonly called parvo, this disease wreaks havoc on a dog’s intestinal tract. General parvo symptoms are lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, and bloody, stinky diarrhea that can cause life-threatening dehydration. Puppies and adolescent dogs are at the greatest risk, which is why it is important to stay on top of vaccinations.
To learn more about canine diseases and their effects on dogs and humans, contact us at East Valley Animal Hospital for an appointment. We want to help you ensure the safety and health of you and your pets.