Can Dogs Get Gastroenteritis from Humans?

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So, you've had gastroenteritis (typically called the stomach flu) for the past few days and now your dog seems to not be feeling well. The question running through your mind concerns whether or not you can pass this virus on to your dog or is it simply psychosomatic?

In humans, stomach flu (gastroenteritis) is typically indicated by vomiting, diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, and general feelings of malaise.

Just because your dog has diarrhea and is vomiting, it may not be an indication they have gastroenteritis. But is it possible for you pass stomach flu to your dog?

Can Dogs Get Gastroenteritis from Humans?

YES!

Recent research has found that the same Norovirus responsible for stomach flu in humans may cause similar symptoms in dogs. A study conducted at the University of Helsinki's Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health looked at 92 samples of dog feces who lived in homes where a family member or another dog had symptoms of gastroenteritis. In four samples, the norovirus was found to be present.

However, gastroenteritis, defined as inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, can be caused by a number of conditions, from bacterial or viral infections to parasites, foods, and medications. So, while your dog may suffer from similar symptoms as you do when battling a stomach virus, the condition may not have been contracted from you, or another person.

If you think your dog might have gastroenteritis, you should isolate him from any other pets in your home and then take him to see his vet for a full diagnosis.

Does My Dog Have Gastroenteritis?

While an occasional episode of vomiting or diarrhea is considered normal in most dogs, acute episodes are far from normal and can lead to life-threatening illnesses. Gastroenteritis can also cause severe dehydration, acid-base imbalances, and issues with electrolyte imbalances.

 

Symptoms

  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea

  • Dehydration

  • Lack of appetite

  • Lethargy

  • Blood in feces/vomit

Causes

  • Transmission of norovirus from humans

  • Contact with infected materials

  • Dietary indiscretions

  • Parasites

  • Stomach issues


Diagnosis

The most common sign of gastroenteritis in dogs is the sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhea. However, your vet is likely to ask you several questions to help confirm the dog's condition:

  • What is your dog eating?

  • What has he eaten in the past 48 hours?

  • Has he had anything new to eat such as treats?

  • Has he been exposed to anyone with gastroenteritis?

  • Has he had any recent episodes of vomiting or diarrhea?

  • Is he on any medications?

After this, the vet may run a complete series of blood tests, order x-rays of his stomach, abdomen, and intestines, serum electrolyte tests to detect any imbalances resulting from the vomiting and diarrhea, and a urinalysis to check for a variety of serious medical conditions.

 

For more information on diagnosing and treating gastroenteritis, and to connect with a vet with your questions, visit Gastroenteritis in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog's Gastroenteritis?

The most common form of treatment for canine gastroenteritis is to keep the dog properly hydrated, as this will help restore the balance of electrolytes in your dog's body.

Treatment

  • Fluids can be given orally or intravenously

  • Food may be withheld for a couple of days to let his stomach settle

  • If a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics may be prescribed

  • An antidiarrheal medication may be prescribed to help calm the problem

Recovery

In most cases, once the dog is properly rehydrated, his condition will improve rapidly. In the event your dog does not appear to be recovering (a significant improvement in the vomiting and diarrhea), further diagnosis may be needed.

Most dogs will make a full and successful recovery from gastroenteritis within a few days as long as they are kept properly hydrated.

How is Gastroenteritis Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Both humans and dogs are prone to episodes of gastroenteritis and both share very similar symptom. Here are the most common similarities both share:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Dehydration

  • Lethargy

How is Gastroenteritis Different in Dogs and Humans?

At the same time, there are a few subtle differences in how gastroenteritis affects dogs and people. Among these are:

  • Dogs may have blood in vomit or feces

  • Dogs may not run a fever

  • Humans run a low-grade fever

  • Dogs do not get flu shots

  • Humans have access to flu shots

Case Study

During a research study conducted at the University of Helsinki, a total of 92 dogs from homes where someone in the home either had gastroenteritis or had been in contact with someone who had the virus, four dogs were found to have the virus in their stool samples.

In all four households, children were present, more than two of the people in these houses were sick, and two of the four dogs who tested positive for the virus showed signs of having an upset stomach.

 

This study seems to indicate that it is possible for humans to transfer the virus responsible for gastroenteritis to their dogs. If you think your dog might be suffering from gastroenteritis, you should take him to the vet for a full examination and testing.