Animals and Health Risks: 20 Diseases You Can Get from Your Pet

Healthy Living

When your beloved pup jumps in your bed and lays a slobbery kiss on you, most likely you’re not thinking about where his mouth or paws have been. But while you probably never gave it much thought, it may surprise you to know that there are diseases you can get from pets, also known as zoonotic diseases.

So, even though there are health benefits to curling up with your furry family members, keep in mind that your pets can also carry creepy crawly critters that could make you sick.

Here are 20 Diseases You Can Get from Pets

1. Hookworms

Parasites that can inhabit and live in a dog or cat’s small intestines, hookworms can cause symptoms in humans ranging from painful, itchy skin infections to intestinal bleeding, inflammation and stomach pain, says the CDC.

2. Rabies

Probably the most notorious of all zoonotic diseases, rabies is spread by a virus that is commonly found in raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes and can be passed from dogs to people through an infected animal bite or virus-containing saliva.

3. Cryptosporidiosis

Also known as crypto, cryptosporidiosis can spread to humans who come in contact with the poop of an infected cat or dog. Per the Mayo Clinic, the parasite can cause fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea in humans.

4. Lyme Disease

Ticks that carry Lyme disease are often hard to detect, but within one to two weeks of being infected, theCleveland Clinic says people can begin to suffer from a rash with fever, headache and muscle or joint pain.


Not just caught in hospitals, NIH advises that humans can also catch MRSA from their cats and dogs through the staphylococcus bacteria that can colonize in the animal’s mouth.

6. Ringworm

Not actually a worm, this highly contagious ring-shaped, itchy red rash is caused by a fungal infection within the skin and can be passed among dogs, cats, horses, other animals.

7. Bubonic Plague

Though you can’t get this directly from your furry family member, you can catch the plague from fleas on your beloved pets.

8. Salmonella

Chicks aren’t the only pet that can harbor this nasty disease. According to a 2013 study, an estimated 70 – 90 percent of reptiles, like turtles and iguanas, also carry salmonella.

9. Giardia

One of the more common dog diseases that affect humans, this waterborne, one-cell organism lives in streams, rivers, and lakes, and causes severe diarrhea in pets and people alike.

10. Cat-Scratch Disease

Can you get sick from your pet through a tiny scratch? As the name suggests, this germ is passed to humans through a feline’s nails (or a bite) – and according to the CDC, nearly half of cats carry the disease at some point in their lives.

11. Tapeworms

Tapeworms are flat segmented worms that live in the intestines of animals after drinking contaminated water, and can cause nausea, weakness, diarrhea and abdominal pain in people.

12. Campylobacteriosis

After a recent outbreak of Campylobacter in pets, CNN reported that these bacteria can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in people.

13. Brucella Canis

Brucella canis is rarely transmitted to humans, because pet owners rarely come in contact with their dog’s blood or reproductive fluids.

14. Toxoplasmosis

Transmitted through cat poop, a study in 2002 found that Toxoplasma gondii parasite can cause severe flu-like symptoms in children and in those with weakened immune systems.

15. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV)

Per the CDC, LCMV is a rodent-borne viral infectious disease that can infect hamsters and guinea pigs after being in contact with wild rodents at a breeding facility, pet store, or home.

16. Psittacosis (Parrot Favor)

Heads up, bird lovers – your winged companion may be harboring diseased poop. A 2013 study found that Psittacosis can be passed to humans from inhaling dried feces dust of infected birds, causing fever, chills, headache, and a dry cough.

17. Leptospirosis

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, this bacterial infection is frequently found both in wild and domestic animals such as dogs, cats and reptiles, and can cause a flu-like illness in humans.

18. Strep Throat

It may surprise you that meningitis is one of the dog diseases that affect humans, but one 2009 studydetailed two cases of meningitis in newborns linked to pets.

19. Hantavirus

According to the CDC, Hantaviruses are a group of viruses that typically infect rodents like pet mice and hamsters. Humans typically become infected with Hantavirus when they breathe in air contaminated with the virus, through pet urine, droppings and saliva.

20. Sarcoptic Mange

Often called Scabies, the Mayo Clinic explains that Mange is caused by a tiny mite that burrows deeply into the skin creating severe itching and irritation in both humans and pets.

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