A canine zoonotic disease is a disease that can be passed from your dog to you. Of the roughly 250 zoonotic organisms, only a handful can be transmitted from canine to human. You and your buddy have a close relationship but nobody wants to share, ahem, fungi, viruses, bacteria and parasites.
The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Fatal if contracted for both humans and canines, it’s necessary to properly vaccinate your dog against this deadly virus.
Giardia is an intestinal parasite that causes watery diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset in canines. Usually acquired through contaminated water or feces, this parasite affects is fairly common in both dogs and humans; it's the most common cause of non-bacterial diarrhea in the United States.
Roundworms are intestinal parasites that, if infected, your dog can shed in his feces. Common in puppies, it’s important to maintain a veterinarian-recommended de-worming schedule and promptly dispose of waste.
Salmonella is the bacteria that causes salmonellosis. It causes lethargy, diarrhea, fever and vomiting in some dogs while others may experience mild abdominal pain and lack of appetite for a few days. Contaminated pet food and feces are common culprits for transmittance.
Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are both transmitted via tick bite. They commonly cause fever, swelling and joint paint, and they can be life threatening for your buddy if untreated. Monthly flea and tick prevention can almost guarantee your dog will avoid these tick-borne zoonotic diseases.
Ringworm and sarcoptic mange are two canine zoonotic diseases that attack the skin. Ringworm is actually a fungus, not a worm as the name suggests, and presents itself as red scaly patches on your dog’s body; however, some dogs show no symptoms whatsoever. Sarcoptic mange, otherwise known as scabies, is a mite that burrows under the skin causing severe itching, scabbing and hair loss.
Rare Zoonotic Diseases
Bordatella, cryptosporidosis and leptospirosis are more commonly spread between dogs, though humans rarely contract these illnesses from canines. Bordatella, commonly referred to as kennel cough, is a respiratory disease that manifests as a dry hacking cough. Cryptosporidosis is a parasitic disease that causes painful gastrointestinal upset. I.V. fluids are often needed to replace those lost due to vomiting and diarrhea. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected canines. If untreated it can lead to canine liver failure and death.
Young or immunocompromised dogs are at increased risk of a zoonotic disease; however, any dog can acquire one. It’s imperative your buddy receives his vaccinations on time and visits the veterinarian at least once a year for a full-body checkup; don’t forget to bring a stool sample. Keep his environment as sanitary as possible, and always wash your hands after handling feces or urine.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.