Reverse Zoonosis: Illnesses You Can Pass to Your Dog


With the many health scares humans face these days, today’s  like swine or bird flu, you can’t be too careful. Zoonosis is the passing of a disease to humans from animals, but did you know that reverse zoonosis can happen as well? That means there are some diseases and illnesses that you can actually pass on to your dog.

None of us want our puppies to get sick, but especially we don’t want them to get sick because of us. In this article, we’ll be discussing some of the diseases or ilnesses that you can pass to your dog and mention a few you can’t.

Reverse Zoonosis

  • Mumps
    Mumps is highly contagious in people and can cause some serious complications. Though rare, dogs can become sick after coming into contact with an infected person.

    Symptoms include fever, lack of appetite, and swelling of the salivary glands just below their ears. Most dogs who become infected with mumps recover in five to ten days. There is no specific remedy but symptoms can be treated and you can keep your dog comfortable while he’s recovering.

    While the risk of passing mumps from a human to your dog is slim, it’s best to keep your pup away from any friends or family members who come down with the mumps. You know the saying, it’s always better to be safe, than sorry.
  • Ringworm
    Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is an infection of the skin and it can affect animals the same way it does humans. Despite being named ringworm, it isn’t caused by any type of worm or parasite. Instead, it is caused by a fungus.

    An itchy, round rash is the primary symptom in people, but in dogs, it typically causes rough, round patches of hair loss that may or may not be itchy. Ringworm can be transmitted via direct contact, whether human or dog, as well as through contaminated objects, such as a blanket or dog brush.

    The best thing to do if you or a member of your household gets ringworm is to cover the infected area and keep it covered to avoid transmitting it to your dog as well as other people in the house.
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
    MRSA is caused by staph bacteria that has grown resistant to a variety of antibiotics. It can be contracted anywhere, but it’s most often seen in the healthcare setting where other illnesses have already weakened a patient’s immune system.

    It generally causes skin infections, but other conditions, such as pneumonia, sepsis, and surgical site infections, can also occur. Pet owners who work in the healthcare pose little risk of passing this infection to their dogs, but those actively infected, however, do pose a threat to their pets.

  • Giardia
    Giardia infection, also referred to as giardiasis, is one of the most common types of waterborne infections. It can be seen in dogs, cats, and even exotic animals as well, being spread through fecal matter and contaminated water. Symptoms of giardiasis are diarrhea and weight loss.

    Veterinarians see this a lot in pet store and breeder dogs especially in the south where weather is hotter. A person can get this from their pet’s feaces and then it can be passed from humans to dogs, but it is more commonly passed from dog to dog.Giardia is most commonly transferred via water, which includes drinking water, well water, lakes, streams, swimming pools, and even spas.

Illnesses You Can Pass to Your Dog


  • Salmonella
    Although salmonella is most often associated with food poisoning, it can actually be passed between infected humans and dogs and vice versa. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headaches, and abdominal cramps in both humans and dogs alike.

    Dogs are more resistant to salmonella, but nevertheless, precautions should be taken to avoid passing it to your dog should you become sick. Make sure to use proper hygiene and if it’s food-borne, dispose of foods properly.

    Now that we’ve discussed a few illnesses you can give your dog, here’s a couple that you can’t pass to your pets.

    Lyme Disease: Lucky for pet owners, ticks are the only conduit of this illness. It can neither be passed from human to human or from human to dog.Common Cold/Flu: Even though both humans and dogs can develop symptoms, it’s highly unlikely that you can transfer your cold or flu to your dog. This type of illness is generally species-specific, meaning it can’t be passed from human to dog or vice versa.

    For the most part, practicing cleanliness and good hygiene for both you and your dog is good practice. After all, keeping your pet illness-free is no different than keeping yourself that way. Most times, whenever any type of illness has been passed from a human to a dog or vice versa, it’s usually because one of them had a lowered immune system already.

    If you or your dog has a lowered immune system, be careful to avoid cross-contamination. In addition, stay in good standing with both your doctor and your dog’s veterinarian and keeping appointments up to date will help maintain both your and your pet’s health.

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