Diseases You Can Get From Your Pets


It’s no secret that Americans love their pets, spending nearly $800 per household annually on pet-related expenses. But, unfortunately, our love doesn’t always protect us from getting sick from them. Here are some of the diseases you can get from your pet and what you should know about them.

Can People Get Sick From Dogs?

As much as it might pain you to think about it, your furry friend can make you sick if you’re not careful. You can get sick from your pet dog or other animals. This type of illness is called a zoonotic disease, which means it’s an infectious disease that can be passed between animals and humans. 

It’s important to remember that even if your pet looks healthy, it may still carry germs that could make you ill. Let’s examine how these diseases can be transmitted to humans so you can protect yourself against contracting any of them.

How Can People Get Diseases From Animals?

There are a number of ways you can contract diseases from your pets, some of which include:

  • Direct contact with an animal. Petting, cuddling, or even touching a pet can transmit diseases – especially if you have any cuts or open wounds. 
  • Contaminated surfaces. People can become infected with a disease if they come into contact with contaminated food, treats, water bowls, or surfaces. This could be from touching an item that has been in contact with an animal carrying a virus.
  • Bites and scratches. If you’re scratched or bitten by a pet, it can cause infections that may harm humans. 
  • Airborne transmission. Some illnesses are transmitted through the air when an infected animal sneezes, coughs or breathes. 
  • Droppings. Sometimes bacteria can live in animal droppings and be passed on to humans if we come into contact with it, particularly if we touch our eyes or mouth afterward. 
  • Insect bites. Ticks and fleas can carry certain diseases that they may pass on to animals and later to people when they bite us.

Now that we understand the many pathways diseases may take, from infecting our pets to infecting us, let’s look at the various diseases and infections we are at risk of getting.

What Diseases Can You Get From Your Pet?

As the saying goes, knowledge is power. The best way to prevent contracting any of these diseases is to be aware of the symptoms of each. 

Here’s a list of all the diseases you could possibly get from your family pet.


One of the most common is called brucellosis, a flu-like illness that is caused by a bacteria found in some animals’ reproductive systems. It’s usually passed on through contact with infected fluids or organs, but it can also be airborne if your pet sneezes or coughs near you.  

The symptoms of brucellosis are wide-ranging and include: 

  • Feeling tired all the time 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fever and chills 
  • Joint pain and stiffness 
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhea 
  • Sweating 
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy

Even if you haven’t been in contact with an infected pet for a while, it’s still possible that you could have brucellosis. Symptoms can take between 1 week and 2 months to show up, so it’s important to see your doctor if any of the above apply to you. Fortunately, brucellosis is usually treated with antibiotics.


One of the nastier diseases your pet might be able to pass on is called campylobacteriosis. It’s an infection caused by bacteria, usually found in raw or undercooked meat, contaminated water, and infected poultry. Your pet can then pass the bacteria on through their feces.

What are the symptoms of campylobacteriosis? It presents with mostly GI symptoms such as: 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Abdominal pain and cramps 
  • Blood or mucous in stool 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Fever 

These symptoms can appear 2 to 5 days after exposure. In most cases, the symptoms will go away without treatment within a week. 

So, if you think you might have contracted campylobacteriosis from your pet, don’t panic! The sickness usually only lasts for around seven days, and no medical intervention is necessary.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be spread to humans from animals, such as dogs. It’s caused by bacteria called leptospires and can lead to serious health complications, including kidney failure and meningitis. 

The most common way it is spread is through contact with an infected animal’s urine or contaminated water sources. Humans can also get the infection if they come into direct contact with an infected animal’s blood or tissues. 

Symptoms of leptospirosis include: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Headache 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Red eyes 
  • Rash or jaundice (yellowing of the skin) 

Although this condition is rare in the United States, with most symptoms being mild, it’s still possible to contract leptospirosis from animals like household dogs. It’s important to know how to protect yourself from catching this infection.


Rabies is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system and can be spread through the saliva of an infected animal. This disease is commonly transferred from wild animals such as bats and raccoons to pet cats and dogs, but it can also be passed between pets and, sometimes, to people.

Rabies is rare in humans, with only 1-3 cases reported yearly in the United States. If you believe your pet has been exposed to rabies, it is important to seek medical help immediately for both you and your furry friend. 

The symptoms of rabies typically start with: 

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Feelings of general discomfort
  • Muscle weakness
  • Burning or tingling at the site of the bite

As the virus progresses, symptoms can include: 

  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Paralysis

Unfortunately, by the time these symptoms appear, it is often too late for treatment. The best way to protect yourself and your pet from rabies is to ensure they are up to date on their vaccinations. If you believe you have been exposed to rabies or display any associated symptoms, seek medical help immediately. 


Ringworm is a type of fungal infection that appears as a red, circular rash on the skin or scalp. It’s spread through contact with an infected animal or person and is highly contagious. 

Ringworm is so contagious that it can be spread by touching contaminated objects like carpets, bedding, brushes, or food bowls. If you’re looking for ringworm on your cat or dog, you might notice scaly, red, or crusty spots where they don’t have any hair.

The symptoms of ringworm include: 

  • Red, scaly, cracked, and ring-shaped rashes on the skin, 
  • Itching, burning, or soreness around the area 
  • Hair loss in areas where the rash appears 

If left untreated, ringworm can spread to other parts of your body and to other pets or people. The good news is that ringworm can be treated with antifungal medications. Your doctor may prescribe a cream, lotion, or pill to help clear up the infection, which usually disappears in 2-4 weeks.

Sometimes, your vet may also recommend medicated shampoos for your pet if they are infected. 


Salmonellosis (often called salmonella) is a type of bacteria that can make pets and people sick. It can be spread to humans through contact with a dog with the germ or through contact with the dog’s feces or saliva. 

You can also get it if you come in contact with an item containing the germ or contaminated food or water and then touch your face or mouth. 

Symptoms of salmonella usually present within 8 hours to 3 days after you’re exposed to the disease and include: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Abdominal pain and cramps 

This pet illness was linked to a 2019 outbreak stemming from pig ear treats, affecting dogs and humans across the United States. Salmonella germs can be shed in pets’ stools for 4 to 6 weeks after infection. So practicing good hygiene around your pet and their environment is important to help prevent salmonella from spreading.


  • Gastroenteritis is a digestive disorder that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. You can get it from your pet if they carry bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Here are some common symptoms: 
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Abdominal pain and cramping 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fever (occasionally)

When both people and pets contract gastroenteritis, they experience many of the same symptoms. It’s important to watch for changes in your pet’s behavior or health so you can catch any illnesses early on and treat them accordingly.

Now that we’ve examined all the types of diseases you might get from your pet let’s unpack the people who are most at risk.

Who is Most at Risk of Getting Sick From Their Dog?

It is important to understand which populations are most vulnerable when it comes to pet-related illnesses. Here are the people who are more likely to get sick from their pups: 

  • Children, especially those under 5 years old 
  • Elderly adults aged 65 and older 
  • People with weakened immune systems due to chronic illness, medication, or surgeries 
  • Pregnant women 

If you fall into one of these categories, it is important that you take extra precautions when interacting with your pup. But even if you don’t fall into one of these groups, there are still things you can do to prevent getting sick from your pup. Let’s explore what you can do to stay healthy and safe around your furry friend.

What You Should Do to Avoid Getting Sick From Your Dog

You can take some easy and effective steps to prevent yourself from catching any nasty bacteria or bugs from your pet. Here are a few:

  1. Take precautions with pet waste. Promptly dispose of your dog’s droppings in a secure bag and remove them from the area. Wash your hands after handling any pet waste, and avoid contact with surfaces or clothing that could come into contact with feces.
  2. Take the time to properly wash. To reduce your chances of getting sick from handling your pooch, take a few moments to thoroughly clean your hands with soap and warm water after contact. This goes for their fecal matter, food and water dishes, or any toys that could have collected saliva.
  3. Steer clear of Fido’s smooches. Refrain from letting your pup give you kisses on the face, particularly not close to your mouth, nose, or eyes. In spite of any preventative measures you take, if their tongue makes contact with yours in any way, make sure to immediately wash off the area.
  4. Visit your pet’s vet. Get into the habit of taking your dog for regular checkups to their veterinarian. By doing so, you’ll help detect any possible health problems, such as parasites or diseases, that can be passed from animals to humans.
  5. Vaccinations. It’s essential to ensure that your pup and you both stay up-to-date with the necessary vaccinations, including things like rabies, distemper, kennel cough, and parvovirus for your dog.
  6. Avoid getting bitten or scratched. Request permission before petting somebody else’s canine, avoid dogs that appear scared or mad, and never approach unfamiliar dogs. Quickly cleanse and disinfect the region if you or anyone else is bitten or scratched. Seek any medical care that could be required.

Even though some of these precautions might seem difficult initially, they’ll be worth the effort if you keep yourself and your family safe.

Summing It All Up

It’s important to remember that while it’s unlikely your pet will make you sick, a few diseases could spread from pets to people. It’s best to stay vigilant and take steps like washing our hands after playing with or handling pets and ensuring regular veterinary visits for vaccinations and check-ups. 

By taking these precautions, you can ensure the health of yourself, your family, and your beloved animals! So let’s keep everyone healthy – together. Your fur babies will thank you!

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