Skip to Content

Pets and Disease: Can Pets Develop Human Diseases?   

With the current pandemic situation, most pet owners are wondering as to whether their pets can acquire certain human diseases. It’s a valid concern considering that many of us treat our pets like they were our own children. We play with them, cuddle them, kiss them, and even sleep in the same bed with them.

We are aware that pets can pass on diseases to us. These diseases are called zoonoses. But what about the other way around? This is called reverse zoonoses, and despite being a rare occurrence, it does happen. The most common cases are bacterial in nature while others are viral, parasitic, and fungal. 

If you’re still curious, keep reading as we explore human diseases that can be transmitted to pets. 

Pets and Disease: Can Pets Develop Human Diseases?

1. MRSA

MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a type of infection resulting from a resilience to antibiotics used to treat staph infections. This disease can be difficult to treat and is highly contagious. A simple skin-to-skin contact can cause an infection in healthy people. 

There was a study that found the transmission of MRSA happening between humans and animals. In the study, they discovered that a couple had infected their dog with MRSA and kept getting reinfected despite receiving treatment. The reinfection only stopped when the dog, too, was treated.

2. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a contagious infection that affects your lungs. If it gets worse, it can also impact your other organs. This disease has been found in pets as well, including dogs and cats. Pets can get tuberculosis by drinking unpasteurized milk from a cow that’s infected or by eating the carcass of infected animals.

They may also get it from being in close contact with infected animals. If they are bitten by an infected animal or they have an infected wound that’s exposed to the bacteria, they could also possibly get tuberculosis. Transmission of the disease from humans to pets is possible but we have not seen any cases of this yet.

3. Giardia 

Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can cause diarrhea in both humans and pets. It’s generally acquired via drinking water or through wells, lakes, and streams. You can have it and pass it on to your dogs and cats. If you have giardia, make sure to pay attention to hygiene. Prohibit your pets from drinking from toilet bowls as this could possibly affect their health.

4. Salmonella

Our pets are more resistant to salmonella but they can get infected too! Symptoms in both humans and pets are similar and can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, and abdominal cramps. If a person in your household has a salmonella infection, make sure you are not exposing your pet to this bacteria.

5. Flu

Flu infections seem to be more prevalent in cats. The first recorded case was in 2009 at the height of the H1N1 pandemic in Oregon. A cat got it from her owner who had suffered from the virus. Later, it died from pneumonia caused by the H1N1 infection. Other studies would later find that dogs and even ferrets can also get infected with H1N1.

Pets and Disease: Can Pets Develop Human Diseases?

What To Do If Your Pet Has It

If you suspect that your pet may have acquired one of these diseases, take them to the veterinarian right away. They will give you guidance on the appropriate steps to take. You can use your pet insurance to visit a vet. These will often cover medicines and surgeries required to treat your dog.

Although the risk of your pet acquiring a human disease is low, you should still take some precautions. If you have any of the conditions we have mentioned above, distance yourself from your pet for a while until you have recovered. Wash your hands before handling them and temporarily avoid sharing beds with them. 

Pets can be a good natural remedy during down times but by taking the appropriate measures, you not only protect their health but also your wallet from those costly veterinarian bills.

Some of these facts are quite surprising to learn. Which ones did you not expect to be included in this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Marisela Zuniga

Sunday 21st of June 2020

wow, I didn't know that!

Debbie P

Monday 25th of May 2020

Scary but very important info!

Lizzie Myers

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Ahh! This is kinda scary but also relieving. Thank you for bringing your knowledge into the topic and providing some solace!

Antoinette M

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

I was surprised to see all of these diseases on the list, except maybe for the flu. Wow!

Sandy Klocinski

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

I'm not terribly concerned about getting an illness (Including COVID-19) from fur baby. Nor am I concerned about giving him one. Like me he leads a solitary existence. I guess you could say it's just me and him against the world.

Love these woofs?

Help spread our waggie tales. You're pawesome for doing it!