10 Illnesses Humans Can Get From Dogs - PetFirst
10 Illnesses Humans Can Get From Dogs
Pet Care & Health

10 Illnesses Humans Can Get From Dogs

by MetLife Pet Insurance
3 years ago

There’s no doubt that you’ve spoken with your vet in the past about all of the illnesses that your dog is at risk for. But have you ever considered whether you could be at risk too?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are quite a few illnesses that humans can get from dogs. While many of these can be prevented by practicing good hygiene, they might be more of a concern if you have young children at home.

After all, kids have their hands (and mouths) on everything– the floor, the dog, the dirt… you get the picture. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to be prepared if you have a pup at home.

In this article, we’ll cover some common illnesses that can be passed from dogs to humans as well as tips for how to prevent them. 

Common Illnesses Humans Can Get From Dogs

The following are a few of the most common illnesses that humans could contract through frequent exposure to dogs.


Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system of mammals, causing inflammation of the brain. Rabies is fatal if not treated before symptoms appear. A dog may contract rabies through bites and scratches from infected animals and then pass it on to us in the same way. 


Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin (not an actual worm) that often presents in a ring shape. Dogs may pass ringworm to humans through skin to skin contact. Dogs contract ringworm from contact with infected animals. Ringworm is particularly common in cows, so farm dogs beware!


These intestinal parasites can cause complications such as weight loss and anemia in dogs and internal organ damage in humans. Dogs may contract hookworms by ingesting them orally or through skin to skin contact. The larva can then pass to humans by burrowing through our skin. 


Roundworm is a very common intestinal parasite, especially in puppies. Dogs may contract Roundworm through contact with infected dog feces, from the soil, or from their mothers. Humans can contract roundworms from dogs through contact with their infected feces, or ingesting infected dirt. 


Tapeworms are another intestinal parasite that commonly affects dogs. While tapeworms don’t pose a huge health threat to dogs, they can cause vitamin and mineral deficiency, diarrhea, nausea, and weight loss in humans. Dogs typically contract tapeworms by ingesting an infected flea, and humans get them the same way. In other words, if your dog has fleas, you could be at risk.


Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can cause infertility in dogs and flu-like symptoms in humans. Dogs may contract Brucellosis through contact with infected fluids and it is passed on to humans in the same way. Humans can also get Brucellosis by inhaling the bacteria. 


Giardia is a parasite that causes diarrhea and weight loss in both humans and dogs. The most common way for dogs (and humans) to contract Giardia is by drinking contaminated water, though the parasite can be present in food as well. Humans can contract the parasite through direct and indirect contact with infected dogs, for instance, by handling infected dog feces, or contact with saliva from an infected pup.


This bacterial disease is transmitted through ticks and can cause energy loss and weakness in dogs and flu-like symptoms in humans. Dogs cannot pass this bacteria directly to humans, but if your dog is carrying an infected tick, he could pass that on to you. 

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Another tick-borne bacteria, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) can cause symptoms like fever, vomiting, and diarrhea in both humans and dogs. Humans may also develop a spotted rash, hence the name “Spotted Fever.” Again, RMSF cannot be passed directly from a dog to a human, but dogs may pass infected ticks onto their human companions.


Salmonella is a bacteria that is contracted orally, often through contaminated food or water. Dogs and humans can both get Salmonella through contact with contaminated feces. The bacteria may cause diarrhea, fever, and vomiting (among other symptoms), in both humans and dogs, and can become quite severe if not treated. Occasionally Salmonella outbreaks are reported in dog food and treats, so it’s important to keep an eye on recall notices. If your dog becomes infected he can easily pass the bacteria on to you through close contact. 

How to Prevent Infection

While there may appear to be an alarming number of illnesses you can get from your dog, the good news is, there are many easy ways to prevent them.

Practice good hygiene

Always be sure to wash your hands after handling your dog, your dog’s bowls, or his toys. Additionally, it’s best not to share food or dishes with your dog. It might be cute, but resist offering your pup a lick of your ice cream cone as you never know what type of bacteria he could be sharing with you!

Keep your dog’s environment clean

You may have noticed that many of the illnesses listed above can be passed through contact with contaminated feces or water. Be sure to clean up after your dog, especially if you have a small yard. Pick up his feces right away to prevent your children, your dog, or yourself from becoming re-exposed to any potential illnesses. 

It’s also a good idea to wash your dog’s food bowls daily, and disinfect his toys from time to time, especially if he plays with them in the house. And of course, always make sure your dog has fresh water in his bowl.

Make sure your dog’s vaccines are up to date

Vaccinations are essential for preventing certain viruses, such as rabies. Make sure you follow the vaccination schedule laid out by your veterinarian so you don’t risk exposing yourself or your pup to any illnesses. 

Perform frequent tick and flea checks

Fleas and ticks are common culprits for transmitting unwanted illness. If your dog spends a lot of time outside it’s important to perform frequent tick checks, for his sake and yours. The same goes for fleas. Not only can fleas carry diseases, but they are itchy and uncomfortable for your pup. Adhering to a consistent flea treatment regimen will protect both of you from illnesses and discomfort.

Seek medical attention when your dog is sick

While it’s normal for dogs to experience the occasional light illness, just like humans do, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention if the symptoms seem particularly intense or persistent.

The last thing you want is for your pup to suffer, so don’t hesitate to visit your veterinarian if you notice your pup is feeling under the weather. Leaving his illnesses untreated will only prolong his discomfort and could even result in becoming sick yourself.

Fortunately, many of the illnesses on this list are easy to treat and prevent, so neither you nor your pup will suffer for long.

Here at PetFirst, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst is here for every dog and cat. From common colds to more significant health problems, pet insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits.

Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured, you don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of treatment and can just focus on your pet’s care.

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