Canine Wellness Series - Part 3 - Zoonotic Diseases... What can I catch?



At one time or another, most of us have watched our dogs have a bout of the sniffles or diarrhea. Many of us have wondered if we, too, were at risk of getting sick. Diseases that are passed from animals to humans are zoonotic illnesses. The most well known and most feared zoonotic disease is rabies.
Some other common zoonotic diseases in dogs include:

  • Ringworm
  • Salmonellosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Campylobacter infection
  • Giardia
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Scabies
  • Harvest mites
Before you panic and think you have to wear a mask & gown every time you pet, feed, or play with your dog, there is some good news! Although it is possible  to catch a zoonotic disease from your dog, it’s not  likely. If your immune system is compromised due to a pre-existing disease or medical condition, you do have a greater risk of contracting a zoonotic disease.
Examples include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Patients being treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Organ/bone marrow transplant patients
  • Elderly persons

If you are someone with a higher risk factor, you don’t need to re-home your pet, you just need to be a little extra cautious around your pet. There are many studies that have proven that the benefits of having a pet, especially for those suffering from chronic illness, are immeasurable.

Regularly monitor your dog for signs of illness, basic hygienic practices such as washing your hands after handling your pet, and most importantly, avoiding direct contact with your dog’s urine or feces are some of the safety measure we should all take to ensure we remain safe.

Prevention really IS  the best medicine to reduce or eliminate your risk of contracting zoonotic diseases from your dog. Here are a few specific suggestions:

  • Don’t put off visits to your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting signs of illness. If your dog IS  sick, wash your hands after handling him/her.
  • When you bathe your dog, be sure to closely examine him/her for signs of illness, especially skin lesions and rashes.
  • De-worm your dog. Most monthly heartworm preventatives contain broad-spectrum de-wormers that can also prevent roundworms and other parasites.
  • Pick up your dog’s feces and dispose of properly.
  • Give your dogs separate water dishes and bowls.
  • Wash pet bedding often.
  • Use flea and tick preventatives regularly.

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions or need help with training/behavior issues, please don’t hesitate to call or email me!

Renee Jones-Lewis is a certified professional dog trainer, having received instruction from canine behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid, plus nationally acclaimed trainers: Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, and Jean Donaldson, to name a few. She serves as a Pet Marketing and Canine Specialist for JeffersPet and

Questions about this article, training or non-emergent health concerns are welcome. Renee can be reached most days from 9am – 5pm Central Time (Mon-Fri) at 1-800-JEFFERS (533-3377) ext 381 or by email rsjones@jefferspet. com.

Information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.

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