Can dogs get sick from humans?

November 25, 2019

Can dogs get sick from humans?


We will cut straight to the point: Yes, dogs can in fact get sick from humans. However, the chances of them contracting a disease from you is highly unlikely.


Dog flu

Canine influenza, more commonly known as "dog flu" is an infectious respiratory disease precipitated by distinct Type A influenza viruses known to affect canines. These are called "canine influenza viruses." Dogs can catch the flu from humans, but it doesn't work the other way around. There are two different types of influenza A dog flu viruses (1) H3N8 (2) H3N2 virus. Canine influenza A(H3N8) virus is a seasonal type of influenza, while A(H3N2) is communicable by humans.

Severity: Mild. There are however severe cases, but this does not happen very often

Symptoms: Cough that mimics kennel cough, Fever, Runny nose, Lethargy, Loss of appetite, Respiratory infection

Your veterinarian will prescribe supportive care for your dog for the next 12 to 15 days. Keep your dog hydrated and comfortable until his or her body generates an immune response to facilitate the recovery process. If your dog contracted a milder form of canine influenza, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic medication to combat the bacterial infection. According to the American Kennel Club, mortality rate is relatively low, with less than 10 percent of dog flu cases resulting in fatalities.



Rabies is a deadly viral polio encephalitis that specifically attacks the gray matter of a dog's brain and the central nervous system (CNS). Rabies is transmitted through direct contact of saliva to broken skin. You normally hear dogs biting people and giving them rabies, but it can also happen the other way around. Yes, there are in fact cases of rabid humans biting perfectly healthy dogs.

Severity: Deadly; if caught early enough, rabies is curable

Symptoms: Pica, Fever, Seizures, Paralysis, Hydrophobia, Jaw is dropped, Inability to swallow, Change in tone of bark, Muscular lack of coordination, Unusual shyness or aggression, Excessive excitability, Constant irritability/changes in attitude and behavior, Excessive salivation (hypersalivation), or frothy saliva

Don’t wait for your dog to exhibit these symptoms before taking them to the vet. In case your dog is bitten by a rabid animal, call the emergency veterinarian in your area for post-exposure prophylaxis and the appropriate vaccines to combat the virus from spreading to the brain in time.


MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

Dogs that are kept as household pets may become colonized or infected by MRSA organisms through exposure to humans colonized or infected by MRSA. Factors that may increase the likelihood of MRSA infections include previous surgeries, hospitalization, and antibiotic use. Therapy dogs, usually those that work at hospital visitation programs, may also be at increased risk of contracting an MRSA infection.

Symptoms: Small, red bumps or boils, Bulls-eye shaped lesions, Itchiness, Skin ulcers, Pus-filled blisters, Scaling skin, Discoloration of the skin, Alopecia, Pneumonia, and Sepsis

Severity: Mild to Severe depending on the strain of bacteria

MRSA is diagnosed by taking a culture and sensitivity. The culture at the lab is shot with different antibiotics to determine which one works best to control the disease. Your veterinarian will then prescribe the appropriate medication for this particular resistant bacterium for you to administer to your dog at home.



Toxoplasmosis infection is caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases to affect nearly all warm-blooded animals including humans. Cats are normally the culprit of spreading the disease, as the parasite completes its life cycle inside the cat's intestinal tract. It passed back into the environment through feline feces. However, cats are not the only source of spreading the infection. The same can happen in human intestines. If a dog by some chance comes into contact or ingests human feces infected by toxoplasmosis, they will be infected by the virus.

Severity: Moderate in fully grown dogs but can be deadly to puppies

Symptoms: Neurological symptoms, Seizures, Tremors, Depression, Lethargy, Uncoordinated gait, Muscle weakness, Partial or complete paralysis, Respiratory problems like shortness of breath, Fever, Weight loss, Loss of appetite, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Abdominal Pain, Jaundice, Inflammation of tonsils (tonsillitis), Inflammation of retina (retinitis), Inflammation of middle part of the eye including iris (uveitis), and Inflammation of the cornea (keratitis)

To combat toxoplasmosis, your vet will prescribe medication to fight the parasite. Typical medication includes sulfadiazine, pyrimethamine, and clindamycin. While these drugs do plenty to help an infected dog's immune system, it must be supported with plenty of fluids and rest to eliminate the infection.



Giardia is a parasite that infects the intestinal tract of a dog. However, many dogs infected with Giardia are asymptomatic. Giardia common throughout the USA and can cause infections at any time of the year. Unlike numerous other communicable sicknesses, Giardia perseveres longer in the environment where conditions are cold and moist. Most dogs are infected by drinking water contaminated with animal or human feces. Upon entry into the gastrointestinal organs, Giardia then infects the small intestine, and dogs infected with Giardia defecate microscopic cysts in their stool. These cysts can infect other animals or humans if ingested. Giardia cysts are highly resistant in the environment and can live for many months under the proper circumstances.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, Weight loss, Failure to gain weight, Vomiting, Dehydration, and Poor coat appearance

Severity: Mild to Moderate, but be wary of dehydration

The most common drugs used to treat Giardia are fenbendazole and metronidazole. These medications are administered for three to ten days to cure the infection. Both drugs may be administered in tandem, if necessary. These medications are usually given to dogs with refractory diarrhea. Supportive treatment, aside from the medication, might be necessary as supplemental therapy if symptoms such as dehydration or acute diarrhea are present. A low-residue, highly digestible diet can help bind stool matter during treatment. Some dogs will require follow-up tests and procedures based on their condition and severity of their Giardiasis infection. All infected dogs must be re-tested within two to four weeks after the completion of the treatment. Speak with your veterinarian about the course of treatment for your pet. They will select what is appropriate to your dog’s age, weight, activity levels and body type.

You can prevent the spread of Giardia further by bathing your dog regularly and disposing of their feces immediately.


Worm parasites (Hookworm, Roundworm, Tapeworm)

Most tapeworms are not directly transmitted from dog to dog, but require an intermediate host. Typical intermediate hosts include ticks, fleas, and small rodents. Humans can also act as a transmitter. Pets will become infected with tapeworms if these hosts are not controlled.

Dogs become infected with roundworm parasites by eating worm eggs from contaminated soil or stool, human feces, or by eating infected rodents. The ingestion of microscopic larval causes dogs to contract hookworms by mouth or from larval entry through the skin, usually on the feet.

Although human infection occurs infrequently, it can cause significant health issues depending on where the worms migrate to. If you have been exposed to a pet with worms or if you know someone who has contracted said worms, we'd recommend that you speak to your veterinarian and your physician to discuss any potential problems this may cause you.

Symptoms: Bloody stools, Diarrhea, Itching around anus, Lethargy, Pale tongue, gums, and nose, Pot-bellied appearance, Visible worms in vomit or stool and Weight loss

Severity: Mild

Intestinal parasites are not effectively treatable with over the counter medications. A veterinary examination, stool examination and appropriate treatment is the best way to keep your dog happy, healthy and parasite-free all while reducing the health concerns of your human family members.



Dogs can get mumps, too, but it’s relatively uncommon. Dogs who live with children recently affected with mumps have been reported to exhibit similar symptoms of illness to humans, including fever, lack of appetite, swollen parotid salivary glands — antibodies to mumps virus have even been found in some canines. Studies have shown that the virus grew well in canine cell cultures in the laboratory. However, there are no experimental trials that have definitively confirmed the transmission of mumps to dogs from humans.

Symptoms: Severe headache, Stiff neck, Eye redness, Drowsiness, Stomach pain, Vomiting, Testicle pain or lump, Seizures

Severity: Mild to Moderate

To treat your furry friend’s mumps, you will need to give a very thorough history of your pets health, origin of symptoms, and probable occurrences that may have heralded this condition — including whether your pet came into contact with someone infected with a mumps. Your vet will do a palpation examination to determine precisely where the swelling is located and how severe the enlargement is. Once your veterinarian has determined the location of the infection to be in the parotid glands, they will order a complete blood and biochemical workup. The lab will determine and confirm whether your dog has mumps or not or any other diseases that's present in their saliva. Additionally, a blood sample will be drawn for a viral antibody-test. An aspirate collected by a fine needle will also be drawn so that the fluid in the glands can be analyzed.



Salmonella is a common bacteria, but doesn't often cause disease in healthy dogs. According to the CDC, “Dogs and cats that become ill from Salmonella infection generally will have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Affected animals may seem more tired than usual, and may have a fever or vomit.”

Symptoms: Fever, Shock, Lethargy, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Anorexia, Weight loss, Dehydration, Skin disease, Mucus in stool, Abnormally fast heart rate, Swollen lymph nodes, Abnormal vaginal discharge and Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. Severe symptoms include Fever, Weight loss, Loss of blood, Non-intestinal infections, Diarrhea that comes and goes with no logical explanation, which may last up to three or four weeks, or longer

Severity: Mild to deadly

Most cases of salmonella infection in dogs are quite mild, and the only problem they may face is acute diarrhea. A dog’s immune system can fight it off after a short time. Give your dog plenty of fresh water to replenish the hydration they lose. Other than that, the salmonella can flush itself out. In more serious cases, your veterinarian may have to admit your dog and provide intravenous fluid to keep them hydrated. If a blood infection or sepsis occurs, your dog may need a plasma or blood transfusion. Worst case scenario, your vet may also prescribe steroids that can prevent shock in severe cases.


If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in your dogs, please take them to the veterinarian asap. The sooner you catch it, the faster it will be to heal.

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