4 min read

Can Dogs Get Gastroenteritis from Humans?

wellness-can-dogs-get-gastroenteritis-from-humans-hero-image

By Wag! Staff

Published: 07/17/2017, edited: 03/08/2023

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Save on pet insurance for your pet

You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.

So, you've had gastroenteritis, typically called the stomach flu, for the past few days, and now your dog seems to be not feeling well. The questions running through your mind may be whether or not you can pass this virus on to your dog.

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 to pass stomach flu to your dog? Let's find out!


man and big black, white and brown dog sitting head to head on a couch - Can Dogs Get Gastroenteritis from Humans?

Can dogs catch gastroenteritis from humans?

Yes, they can! 

Recent research has found that the same Norovirus responsible for severe cases of stomach flu in humans may cause similar symptoms in dogs. In a study conducted at the University of Helsinki's Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, 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 were tested. Four dogs were found to have the virus in their stool samples, two of which showed signs of having an upset stomach. Another study from Thailand traced a kennel outbreak to two pregnant dogs who were moved from the kennel to live inside the home with infected people who then contracted norovirus, as did 5 of the 6 puppies birthed during that period. These studies seem to indicate that it is possible for humans to transfer the norovirus responsible for some cases of gastroenteritis to their dogs. 

However, gastroenteritis, defined as inflammation of the upper gastrointestinal tract, can be caused by a number of conditions, from bacterial or viral infections to parasites, some of which can also be passed from you to your dog. But this condition could also be caused by food issues, reactions from medication, or an underlying medical condition. So, while your dog may suffer from similar symptoms to you when battling a stomach virus, the condition may or may not have been contracted from you, or another person.

If you think your dog might have gastroenteritis, you should isolate them from any other pets in your home. Then, take them to see the vet for a full diagnosis.



sick white dog sleeping

Does my dog have gastroenteritis?

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

Symptoms

  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in feces/vomit
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness¬†

Causes

  • Transmission of norovirus from humans
  • Other viral and bacterial infections
  • Contact with infected materials
  • Dietary indiscretions
  • Parasites
  • Stomach issues
  • Reaction to medications
  • An abrupt diet change
  • Pancreatitis
  • A gut obstruction

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?
  • Any chance he has ingested something indigestible?

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

For more information on diagnosing and treating gastroenteritis, visit Gastroenteritis in Dogs.



fluffy white and brown dog being checked out by veterinarian

How do I treat my dog's gastroenteritis?

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

Treatment

  • Fluids can be given orally, subcutaneously or intravenously
  • Food may be withheld for a couple of days to let your dog's stomach settle, but most vets will advise the feeding of bland and digestible meals little and often.
  • If a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics may be prescribed
  • An antidiarrheal medication may be given to help calm the problem, as well as some probiotics.

Recovery

In most cases, once the dog is properly rehydrated, their condition will improve rapidly. In the event your dog does not appear to be recovering, i.e., 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.



woman hugging an adult Viszla dog

How is gastroenteritis similar or different in dogs and humans?

Both humans and dogs are prone to episodes of gastroenteritis and both share very similar symptoms. Here are the most common signs we see:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain

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

  • Dogs are more likely to have blood in vomit or feces
  • Dogs may not run a fever while many humans run a low-grade fever
  • Dogs do not get flu shots
  • Humans have access to flu shots

While there could be a lot of reasons behind your dog's symptoms, including gastroenteritis, always consult your veterinarian to find the cause and get your pooch on the road to recovery!


If you suspect your dog is at risk of developing gastroenteritis,¬†start searching for pet insurance today¬†to find¬†the ‚Äúpawfect‚ÄĚ plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

Youtube Play
Wag! Specialist
Need to upgrade your pet's leash?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.