Can My Children Get Diseases From Our Pets?

Can my children get diseases from our pets?

Answer: YES! This is a good question and although veterinarians treat animals, part of their responsibility is to educate and prevent the spread of diseases from animals to humans.

Animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans are called a Zoonotic Disease or Zoonoses. I know, I know it sounds like something to do with zoo animals but it is not. Most animals are capable of transmitting an infection to humans although it is rare. There are over 850 microorganisms that can be transmitted from animals to humans but because I am a small animal veterinarian, I focus on common companion zoonotic animal diseases. It is imperative however for those working with livestock to educate themselves on zoonotic diseases or consult their veterinarian.

We have been hearing about puppies from pet stores making people very sick. What is this all about?

From September 2016 to the present, Petland pet stores have had 39 cases of a Zoonotic Disease called Campylobacteriosis. The cases have been documented in 7 states, including Ohio. This bacterium is in the intestines of infected puppies and is transmitted to people by contact with the puppies stool. Infected people develop diarrhea, fever, cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Not all puppies have this infection, but apparently healthy puppies can be carrying the bacteria.

Please do not purchase or adopt a sick puppy, but if you do, take it to your veterinarian right away for diagnostics and therapy. Wash your hands frequently, and clean up all fecal waste. If you develop any gastrointestinal symptoms, call your family doctor right away and inform them of your recent acquisition of a new puppy.

What are the most common Zoonotic diseases in pets?

  • Ringworm
  • Salmonellosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Campylobacter infection
  • Giardia infection
  • Cryptosporidium infection
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Scabies
  • Rabies

Everything in the list above is important but in our office it seems we are educating mostly around Ringworm, Roundworm, Leptospirosis, Scabies, and Rabies.

How can I reduce the chances of me or my children getting one of these diseases?

Good hygiene and common sense can reduce your chances of contracting an infection or disease from your pet.

  • If your dog is sick wash your hands often and take your dog to a veterinarian
  • Bathe and groom your dog regularly. Check for fleas and skin lesions.
  • Have your pet checked for worms regularly.
  • “Scoop that poop” on your property. If you are walking your dog dispose of it properly.
  • Wash pet bedding often.
  • Use a flea and tick preventive.
  • Check our Facebook page or website for more detailed information. We will always alert you for possible outbreaks of diseases involving animals!!

Can I transmit disease to my dog?

Let’s not blame it all on the dog. We can also transmit disease to our pets. Sore throats, tuberculosis and fleas are common examples. Additionally, enteritis due to Campylobacter and Salmonella infections can be passed from an infected family member to the family pet.

The bottom line for all these questions is this: yes your family can contract diseases from your pet. It is not exactly rare but it is not common either. If you practice good hygiene, preventative veterinary care for your pet and a little common sense it is unlikely you will be dealing with zoonotic disease.