Understanding Doggy Illnesses: What You Can and Can’t Catch from Your Pup

As many studies have shown, owning a dog can improve the health and lifespan of their owners—and with those wagging tails and loving nudges, it’s not hard to see why. Part of being a responsible pet owner involves educating yourself on ways to best care for pet in both sickness and health. Responsible dog owners should work to understand the intricacies of their dog’s breed and the health threats specific to that breed. Beyond that, it is important that you gain a general understanding of dog health and human health together as well. The next time your four-legged best friend gets sick or you’re feeling under the weather, keeps these sicknesses in mind. While you’re not going to give your dog a cold, there are several illnesses and diseases that can be transmitted from pet to owner and owner to pet.


Parasitic worms are one of the most common illnesses that get passed from pet to owner. While this is a cringe-worthy topic, it is important to understand what types of parasites can affect you and your dog and what types of parasites can only affect your pup. Hookworms and roundworms are fairly common parasites in both dogs and cats. The worms are designed to live in dogs or cats, but can affect humans. If you come in to contact with worm eggs or larva from your dog’s contaminated stool, the parasites can travel through your intestines, burrow in your skin, or become lost in your system. These parasites most commonly affect children who are around infected pets because children have such poor hygienic practices. While these worms sound (and can be) worrisome for both you and your pet, they are easily treated and easily prevented. Regular heartworm medication also has a preventative in it that wards off intestinal worms.

Bacterial Diseases

When we hear the term Streptococcus we think Strep and images of swollen tonsils, sore throats, and days in bed come to mind. What many pet owners don’t realize is that Streptococcus bacteria are found all types of animals. For the most part, Strep does not cause disease or symptoms in our pets as it does us. Occasionally a dog can get an eye infection that is affiliated with Strep. Similarly, the Staphylococci bacteria are found on all animals, including our pets. Staph can cause nagging skin irritations in humans, as well as serious illness in some cases and is extremely contagious. Pets are not typically affected by the Staph bacteria, but can suffer from skin infections in some cases. Tuberculosis is another chronic infection that is found in all animals including humans. Tuberculosis can be extremely worrisome in humans. However, cats and dogs have been shown to be fairly resistant to the disease.


Ringworm is the most common fungus that affects both humans and our pets. Often misconceived as actually being a worm, ringworm is a fungus that affects the skin on mammals. Young dogs and cats can suffer from ringworm very easily and that fungus can be transmitted to their owner simply by touching it. Careful and proper hygiene is important to avoiding ringworm. If the fungus is active on a pet or human, treatment is needed and is very effective. Ringworm often appears as ring-shaped (but not always) area of skin and on pets the fur will be broken off.

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