Can Pet Dogs Transmit Diseases To Humans? 4 Infections You Could Catch

It is known that pet dogs can significantly improve health and overall quality of life for many people. But like many animals, they are also linked to certain parasites and zoonotic diseases i.e. diseases which can be transmitted from animals to human beings. Here are a few of them you should know about.

1. Capnocytophaga canimorsus

Earlier this year, a man from Wisconsin contracted this bacteria which is normally found in dog saliva. Despite recovering from the infection itself, he developed an extremely rare complication, a process called gangrene, which affected the blood flow to his limbs. As a result, the man had to get his hands and legs amputated.

But people need not abandon dogs because of this as the possibility of an infection is still extremely rare, according to Dr. Stephen Cole from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. "Every time your dog licks you, you may come into contact with this bacterium, but the vast, vast, vast majority of times, that causes absolutely no problem," he said.

2. Plague

While this sounds like something that should be irrelevant today, the plague still does exist. According to PetMD, there are three main types: bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, and septicemic plague. But the good news is that treatment and outlook have vastly improved since the middle ages.

Caused by the parasitic genus Yersinia pestis, it may be transferred to human beings from a dog which has been bitten by an infected rodent. To spot the plague early, look out for symptoms in dogs such as swollen lymph nodes, discharge from the eyes, fever, vomiting, weight loss, mouth ulcers etc.

3. Ringworm

This skin disease is characterized by lesions in dogs along with circular patches of hair loss. When spread to humans via direct contact with affected animals, it may show up in the form of a red, itchy rash on the skin. Any lesions on dogs should be checked by a veterinarian to identify the underlying cause. Ringworm is usually treated with a topical antifungal medication.

To prevent the disease, experts recommend maintaining good hygiene. This includes washing their bedding in hot water once or twice a month and making sure that grooming tools are not shared to be used on other pets.

4. Giardia

After infecting either a pet or a human being, this parasite results in nausea, diarrhea, gas, and small intestinal symptoms. "It's generally assumed that while exposure to giardia is common, acquiring disease from the parasite is less common," wrote Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, an integrative wellness veterinarian.

Once again, good hygiene is the best method of prevention as the parasite is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated feces, which can accidentally end up in food and water. Dr. Becker also warns that animals bred in puppy mills are at higher risk of carrying the parasite due to the poor living conditions.