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What Illnesses Can You Catch From Your Dog? Vet Approved Facts

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on April 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

a dachshund dog looks sick lying on its owner

What Illnesses Can You Catch From Your Dog? Vet Approved Facts


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg  Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

While we all love being pet parents and love our canine friends, dogs can give you illnesses that can make you and your family very sick or worse.

Of course, everyone knows that humans practice much better hygiene than dogs do, but can they really get you sick? The answer, sadly, is yes. Diseases that are transferred from dogs to their owners are called zoonotic diseases1. If you think that you or your pet have been exposed to a zoonotic disease, it’s essential to get to a medical professional right away.

For now, see below for a non-comprehensive list of just a few of the diseases you can contract from your beloved pet.

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The 6 Most Common Diseases You Can Catch From Your Dog

1. Ringworm

Image by: Nathalie Marran, Shutterstock

Ringworm can be transferred to humans from different animals, not just canines. This fungal skin infection should be treated as soon as it’s identified.

Signs in Pets
  • Patches where hair is missing
  • A red mark in the center of the patch
  • Skin lesions
Symptoms in Humans
  • Red, circular patches on the skin
  • Patches can be crusty and itchy

Treatment for ringworm is usually an anti-fungal cream. It’s best to take your pet or anyone in your family with ringworm in for treatment from a medical professional.

2. Rabies

dog with rabies
Image Credit: Victoria Antonova, Shutterstock

Rabies is a virus that affects mammals. It’s spread by contact and the salvia of infected tissues. If you see a case of suspected rabies, it’s essential that you report it to the proper authorities, such as the health department.

Raccoons, bats, and other wildlife can carry the disease. It’s essential to note that very few humans who contract rabies survive without treatment.

Signs in Pets
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Unable to swallow
  • Change in bark tone
  • Lack of muscular coordination
  • Frothy saliva
  • Excessive slobbering
Symptoms in Humans
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Problems sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Possible pain and tingling sensation at the infected site

It’s imperative to get a person who has been bitten by an animal that could carry rabies to the doctor right away for treatment.

3. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

vet examining a sick German Shepherd dog
Image by: Roger costa morera, Shutterstock

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by a bacterium called Rickettsia rickettsii. While this disease isn’t transmitted to you directly by your dog, it can be caused by a tick your dog carries on its body. This disease can easily lead to a lengthy hospital stay and needs to be treated with an antibiotic right away.

Symptoms in Humans
  • Fever
  • Possible rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Intestinal pain

If you have any of these symptoms after finding a tick on you, it’s best to get to a doctor immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

4. Giardia

sick dog
Image By: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

This is a tiny intestinal parasite that dogs, cats, humans, and other species can contract. It is a common disease, and many pets and humans have it without ever showing any symptoms. Symptoms are generally the same for humans and animals and include the following:

  • Diarrhea (bloody)
  • Gas
  • Nausea

This is most often treated in humans with an antibiotic. Make sure you take proper precautions when disposing of your pet’s feces.

5. Tapeworms

Image by: Rattiya Thongdumhyu, Shutterstock

Believe it or not, there are certain types of worms that your dog can give you, and tapeworms are one of those parasites. They are flat, segmented worms that live in the small intestines of many animals. Tapeworm infections in pets can come from hanging around in pastures or drinking contaminated water.

Signs in Pets
  • Long worms in vomit
  • Rice-like pieces in feces
  • Dragging their hind ends across the floor or carpet
Symptoms in Humans
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Extreme hunger
  • Rice-like pieces in feces
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness

6. Hookworms

sick dog lying
Image By: MDV Edwards, Shutterstock

Hookworms survive by feeding on the intestines of dogs and can cause a life-threatening infection, especially for puppies. These parasites are spread to humans through animal feces.

Signs in Pets
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
Symptoms in Humans
  • Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all
  • Could include itchy skin
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Anemia
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite

These are just a few of the diseases and illnesses that can be spread from dogs to humans. If you see the symptoms of any of these conditions, it’s best to make an appointment for you and your pet for treatment.

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Other Illnesses that Are Transmitted to Humans by Dogs

There are a few other illnesses that are transmitted to humans by canines.

  • Roundworms
  • Salmonella
  • MRSA
  • Sarcoptic mange
  • Leptospirosis

One of the best ways to ensure you and your pet don’t become sick with these illnesses is by attending regular checkups to screen for these conditions before clinical signs appear or worsen.

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While we love our canine friends, knowing they carry things that can make us sick is essential. Make sure that you keep your pet groomed and bathed and that you’re constantly checking them for ticks. You also want to be extremely careful when disposing of your dog’s feces since handling it can make you and your family extremely sick.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: Leka Sergeeva, Shutterstock

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