5 min read


What Can Dogs Catch from Humans?



5 min read


What Can Dogs Catch from Humans?


Your dog is one of the family. Together you share love, companionship, walks, play and appreciation of one another's personalities. It's not just the good times we can share. You can also share certain viruses and health risks with your beloved best friend. 

The good news is that you cannot give your dog the common cold. When flu season is approaching, your good health habits can not only protect you and your human family, but your dog as well. 

Yes, you can give your dog the flu. There are other highly infectious conditions that you can transmit to your dog, as well. You can also pass on Salmonella, Giardia, Ringworm and Mumps!


Signs Your Dog Has Caught Something from You

The conditions that your dog may contract from your are different from one another and so are the symptoms your dog will show. Overall, if your dog is sick, he will not act like himself. There will be a loss of energy and other symptoms of infection as well. When you have the flu, you have a cough, fever, aches, loss of energy, upset stomach, loss of appetite and rapid breathing. 

The same will happen to your dog. He will act sick with these signs as well. What happens with mumps? Though rare, when your dog contracts the mumps, he will have swelling below the ears, fever, and a lack of appetite.

The most obvious sign that your dog has picked up a flu or virus from you will be noticed in your dog's overall energy level. You may find him looking depressed and weak. Your dog will have a lack of energy and show the same types of symptoms that you show when you are not feeling well. He cannot tell you that he is aching and not right, so it will be important for you to be a good observer of your dog's energy, body functions, and appetite.

There are other conditions that your dog may pick up from you. For example, your dog could contract ringworm - a contagious fungal infection. The fungus will affect your dog's fur and skin. You may see hair loss, broken hair or fur, darkening of the skin and crusting of the skin that may or may not involve itching. 

Other conditions, such as salmonella, will cause diarrhea. Some symptoms, such as loss of appetite and lethargy could be symptomatic of many different problems and you will need to see your veterinarian to get the proper medical care for your dog. If your dog is showing flu symptoms, you may need to get medical help if your dog has prolonged or serious problems with breathing, appetite, fluid intake, or fever.

Body Language

Signs your dog has caught an illness from you include:

  • Shaking
  • Panting
  • Scratching
  • Weakness

Other Signs

Further signs that your dog is not well are:

  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Problems Breathing
  • Fever
  • Loss Of Energy
  • Cough

The History of Dogs Catching Sicknesses from Humans


Scientists believe that the evolution of animals, particularly of humans, is driven by the constant battle between invading diseases (pathogens) and their hosts. With current technology, scientists are able to study the evolution of viruses with big data and conduct global studies on patterns of genomes across species. 

They have learned that viruses have been a major driver of adaptation and change in different species. Both humans and dogs have evolved over the centuries to have changing susceptibilities and immunities to disease and infection. 

The development of the canine immune system shares many characteristics with the human immune system. One may assume that the similarities in the immune systems may have evolved from centuries of living in close proximity and sharing the air, food, and fluids of life and evolving to survive the mutations of virus, bacteria, and disease over time. Because the immunity responses of dogs are so similar to humans, they are often studied by pharmaceutical companies to develop medicines for people and canines, too. 

The Science of Human to Canine Illness


Zoonoses is the study of how diseases are shared across species. Typically, the research occurs in environments in which different species live together, like farms, where chickens, sheep, dogs, cats, and turkeys may be living in the same barnyard. 

Zoonoses investigations also look at how diseases are transmitted from animals to humans. It is important to understand this sharing of disease to protect the public from infections that could be spread through food or certain handling procedures of the animals or their body excretions. The study of disease transmission from animals to humans is important to public health.

Reverse zoonoses is the study of how humans may transmit diseases to animals. The study of reverse zoonoses is less well researched or understood but it is of increasing concern to veterinarians and to scientists. It is also important to study and understand how diseases may mutate to spread from humans to animals. The spread of diseases from human to dog may represent the development of strains of illness that may mutate into a more virulent, harmful or easily transmissible form.

Just how the sickness is transmitted between humans and dogs is also a topic of global scientific study. Some infectious conditions may be transmitted by bites from insects, like mosquitoes, ticks (Lyme Disease), or fleas. Other sources of disease come from food or water that has been contaminated by stool, larvae, or eating the tissues of infected animals.

There is a condition (Brucellosis) transmitted by unpasteurized milk. Hookworms and roundworms can also be transmitted across species through food or where we place our bare feet. Other viruses are spread through touch or breathing. Scientists believe that humans have the largest responsibility for the spread and control of disease across the globe and species. People are mobile - they travel and they bring the pathogens into environments with them.

Training to Keep Your Dog Healthy


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have clear recommendations as to how you may prevent the spread of illness to yourself and your dog. 

First, use good hand washing. Teach all family members to use good hand washing to protect yourselves and your dog from the spread of illness. Don't just wash your hands before eating your dinner. Make sure your hands are clean when you are handling your dog's food and when you are touching and handling your dog. 

Second, keep the areas in which your dog is living and playing clean. Clean up stool. Do not let your dog step on or play in areas in which other pet owners failed to clean up after their pets. 

Third, give your dog fresh and clean water every day. Make sure you keep his water and feeding dishes clean. Fourth, make sure you keep your dog healthy with vaccinations and health screenings with your veterinarian. Fifth, provide the appropriate shelter for your dog - both shelter from exposure to bad weather but also shelter from situations that may pose a threat to his health and safety.

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Safety Tips For Dealing with Illnesses

  1. Wash your hands before and after handling food and treats.
  2. Give your dog lots of fresh water every day.
  3. Keep your dog warm and safe.
  4. Feed your dog fresh food and a healthy diet.
  5. Make sure your dog gets good rest.
  6. Watch for signs of illness and get medical advice.

By a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover Pat Drake

Published: 02/08/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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