Can You Really Catch a Disease From Your Pet?

Yes, you can absolutely catch an infection from your pet. But, for many people, pets are part of the family – they share your beds, sofas, food, and even tech gadgets. And although it’s rare to catch a disease from your dog or the typical house cat, it’s important to consider animal effects on health.

That said, the common illnesses among house pets, such as heartworms and parvovirus, can’t spread to humans. But here are some illnesses or pathogens you could potentially catch from your pet.

1. Rabies

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that adversely impacts the nervous system. It’s typically transmitted via a bite from a rabies-infected animal or when the saliva from a disease-ridden animal comes into contact with an open cut. 

The unfortunate thing about rabies is that the disease can lie dormant for years and is nearly always fatal once the outward signs appear. 

Minimize the risk of rabies by keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date, preventing their contact with wild or feral animals, and getting any bites from your dog, cat, or ferret checked immediately.

2. Cat scratch disease (Bartonellosis)

You can potentially catch the flu from your pet cat, including bird flu viruses. But the risk is incredibly low. However, you should be more worried about bartonellosis, a bacterial disease spread from cat to cat by fleas. Mild infections usually have flu-like symptoms but, when severe, can cause damage to heart valves. 

So, make sure:

  • To control fleas on your pets and limit contact with wild and stray animals
  • Avoid play that might lead to cat scratches or bites
  • Wash and disinfect cat scratches and bites immediately
  • Consult a doctor if you develop a scratch at the site of a bite or scratch

3. Dog bite septicemia

Untreated animal bites can sometimes lead to sepsis – a severe reaction to infection that can be life-threatening. Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a type of bacteria commonly found in the mouths of healthy cats and dogs. Humans can contract this bacteria through exposure to dog saliva through a bite or licking. However, immunocompromised subjects are at greater risk of developing an infection.

4. Worms

Hookworm, roundworm, and tapeworm – you name it. You can catch intestinal parasites from your pets. Children may pick up a tapeworm by accidentally swallowing a flea infected with tapeworm larvae. Hookworm and roundworm larvae are passed from pets through stool and can pass through your skin. 

Reduce the risk of catching these worms by having your pets dewormed regularly, washing your hands after touching your pets, and practicing good overall hygiene. And make sure to control fleas on your pet and in the house.

5. Salmonella

Humans typically contract salmonella from consuming contaminated foods. However, you can catch this disease from your pet. Reptiles, such as turtles, snakes, and lizards, are the most common culprits, but dogs, cats, and birds can spread it too. 

So, make sure to avoid contact with reptiles if you have a weakened immune system and wash your hands with soap and water after contact with animal feces. 

How To Prevent Catching A Disease From Your Pet

Zoonotic diseases are more common than you’d think. Apart from the diseases mentioned above, you can catch many viral, fungal, and bacterial diseases from your pets. 

The best way to reduce your risk of catching a disease from your pet boils down to basic hygiene and taking the necessary precautions.

Contact Us

Please contact us right away if you have any questions about catching a disease from your pet. You can either visit our contact page or call us at (860) 228-4324.