Can You Get Sick From Your Dog or Cat?

Here are some points to consider when you do decide to own a cat or dog particular on matters about health.

Can Your Dog or Cat Make You Sick

Can your dog or cat make you sick? This is the age-old question as more and more people welcome pets into their loving homes. As humans and their pets share their living space, this might pose health concerns to the owners. Here are some points to consider when you do decide to own a cat or dog particular on matters about health.

Flu viruses

Can your dog or cat make you sick of the flu? The answer to this question is a big NO. The influenza virus, as it turns out, is species specific. Dogs and cats do get the flu but the type of virus strain that affects our furry friends does not affect humans and vice versa. The virus that causes the flu and colds among humans is specific to humans.


Can your dog or cat make you sick of diarrhea. The answer is and unfortunate YES. It is really not them per se. It is the bacteria present in their feces. If your dog or cat is having bouts with wet stool, it would be best to bring your pet to the veterinarian right away. You see, if it is caused by Salmonella or Campylobacter, you can get infected by the bacteria when you come in contact with the feces of your pets.

When you bring your pets to the vet’s clinic, they might keep them for observation which will significantly lessen your risk of exposure to the bacteria. Also, the problem will be dealt with through proper intervention. The rule of thumb is always wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap right after you handle or groom your pets even when they are at the pink of their health. This way, you are protecting yourself from getting infected with any bacteria or virus they might unknowingly carry.

Other ways

Can your dog and cat make you sick even when it is healthy? Again, the answer is an unfortunate YES.

  • Leptospirosis, for example, is a serious bacterial disease that can be passed from the dog or cat’s urine which comes in contact with a cut or scratch on human skin or any mucous membranes like the eyes, nose, or mouth. Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord, liver failure, respiratory problems, and even death. To prevent this, you have to make sure your home is clean and free from rats and mice that can transmit such infection to your pets.
  • There’s also toxoplasmosis. This is a parasitic disease that can be transmitted from cats to humans through their feces. This may cause flu-like symptoms which might become serious if left unchecked. To avoid this, make sure your cat is clean and healthy. When you clean your cat’s litter box, make sure you wear protective gear which include gloves and a face mask. Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the litter box.
  • Ringworm is yet another problem that you can get from an infected dog or cat. It is a fungal infection that often forms a ring-shaped rash which is zoonotic. Zoonotic is a term which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. You can get it simply by touching the animals, their bedding, even their grooming items. To treat it, you would need a physician’s prescription for an effective anti-fungal cream. To prevent this, if you notice that your pet has patches of missing hair, bring it to the vet immediately.
  • Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people via the saliva of infected animals. Although there has virtually been no more case of rabies transmitted from pet dogs and cats to humans in the United States, there might be a certain risk involved if you are in an area populated by bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. It takes one bite to infect your pets and another one for your infected pets to pass them onto you. This is the reason why they have to have annual anti-rabies shots.

Some reminders

Can a dog or cat make you sick? The verdict is in and it is a sad yes. However, there are things that you can do to prevent this situation from ever happening to you or any of your family members:

  • Just like human saliva, the saliva of dogs and cats are also filled with organisms but the good news, most of them are not harmful. With that said, it still would be a good idea if you will not handle your pets if you have an open wound. If you have immune system-related problems, having pets might not be a good idea either. Consult your physician before welcoming one in your home.
  • As mentioned earlier, always wash your hands. This will ensure that the bacteria or virus you potentially came in contact with when you handled your pets will not be passed onto you.
  • Keep your pets clean and healthy. Have them vaccinated and dewormed. Schedule a regular check-up for your dogs and cats. Get rid of ticks and fleas. A healthy pet also means a healthy home.

Can a dog or cat make you sick? Even if we know the answer to this question, it should not be a hindrance to welcome one at home. However, we should take certain precautions to ensure the health not only of the owners but their pets as well. Here, the old adage, “Prevention is better than cure,” definitely rings true.

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