Don’t let your dog’s disease drag you down
A dog is man’s best friend, offering comfort, support, and even a floppy ear when no one else will listen. There are definite health benefits associated with owning a dog, from helping to lower blood pressure to staving off depression. But despite the abundant health benefits of having a dog, what happens if they’re sick? In some cases, a sick dog can be just as infectious as a sick human!
With all the rough and tumble play your dog experiences outdoors, there’s no surprise they carry germs back into the house. There are indeed, some dog germs can infect humans – which are known as zoonotic diseases. A zoonotic disease is a disease that is spread from animals to humans. These illnesses can be passed through waste, saliva, or even buried in the fur or dander of your four-legged friend. Direct contact with an infected pet can spread the infection, resulting in uncomfortable and sometimes, in rare cases, life-threatening symptoms. Here are a few diseases that can be transmitted from dogs to humans.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Dogs carrying ticks in their coats can bring these nasty creatures into the house. Baby ticks are the size of poppy seeds and can be hard to spot even in short-haired pets. Carrying bacteria and other infectious agents, a bite from an infected tick can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans with weakened immune systems. The symptoms are quite similar to the flu, with patients citing fevers, chills, aches, and even a rash on the body.
Shed into feces which contaminate the soil, roundworm is very common parasite among dogs and humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 14 percent of the U.S. population has been infected with Toxocara, which stems from roundworm larvae. People ages 20 and below are at higher risk of infection from roundworm if they own a dog. Roundworm symptoms can vary from minor coughing to fever and inflammation of the liver or even blindness.
Similar to roundworms, dog hookworms are spread by contact with soil contaminated with infected feces. It may be especially challenging to identify contaminated ground where feces might be obscured. Infected persons may notice abdominal cramping, nausea, blood in stools, and an irritating rash.
Rabies is the most well-known potential transmission between dogs and humans. In the United States, this viral disease is typically spread by wild animals or unvaccinated domestic pets. Here in Arizona, rabies vaccinations and licensing are required for all dogs.
While some zoonotic diseases and their consequences can be serious, this doesn’t mean you should worry constantly. There are a few simple things you can do to help prevent these diseases:
Proper preventative care: Schedule regular preventative care appointments with your veterinarian, and keep your pet up-to-date on their annual fecal tests and vaccinations to best protect both you and your pup from these diseases – plus to put your mind at ease. Your veterinarian can also talk about different parasite preventatives to help protect against fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites.
Wash your hands: It’s always a good idea to wash your hands after interacting with your dog. You never know what they might be nibbling on when you’re not looking. This is especially important for young children in the household.
Scoop the poop: Making sure your yard is as clean as possible can reduce the risk of infections and limit the spread of parasites and bacteria.
Knowledge and prevention can go a long way towards keeping everyone in your family (including your pup) happy and healthy!
Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.