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Pet diseases shared with humans

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Zoonotic diseases are those that are not specie specific, which means that they can be passed on to different animals. For example, from a cat to a dog to a human. There are many zoonotic diseases that can affect cats and dogs. Most of these are avoidable and do not have any serious side effects, however, there are also many that can be fatal if contracted.


The Salmonella bacterium can be easily picked up from food that has not been cooked properly, especially chicken, or from reptiles that shed salmonella when they become stressed. It causes vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration if not treated quickly. Salmonella is particularly nasty in young animals or animals that have an under-lying condition. It can be transferred to other animals through feces and urine.


Toxoplasmosis can be found in cat feces, but can be picked up by any other animal. It is a dangerous parasite that may only manifest flu-like symptoms in otherwise healthy people, but can cause abortion or malformation to fetuses in pregnant women. It can also lead to blindness if not treated.

Toxocara canis

The roundworm can be transferred by eating food that has not been cooked properly, or by coming into contact with contaminated feces. It is called the toxocara canis as its primary host is the dog, but being zoonotic, it can be transferred to other animals, causing vomiting and diarrhea. If not treated, severe roundworm infection can cause damage to major organs including the heart, liver and kidneys.

Echinococcus Granulosus

Echinococcus Granulosus is a form of tapeworm that can be found in most animal's intestines. It is usually passed on to humans by coming into contact with dog feces. Tapeworms cause vomiting and diarrhea. If they are not treated they can cause anemia. In severe cases, some people can have a serious allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock.


Ringworm is a fungal infection that lives on skin and can be passed on by skin-to-skin contact. It shows up apple green under ultra-violet light and is treated using anti-fungal steroid creams.


There are many varieties of flea, but the cat and dog fleas are most common. They can jump great distances, and the eggs can survive for years, only hatching once a heat source becomes available. Their bites are itchy and cause allergic reactions called flea allergic dermatitis. They often carry the eggs of tapeworms.

Sarcoptic Mange

Mange is caused by the sarcoptic mite generally found on dogs. It is a burrowing mite, which means that it digs into the skin, causing severe itching, hair loss and infection. Sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies, usually affects dogs who have been neglected. It is easily passed on by skin-to-skin contact.

Chlamydia Psittaci

Chlamydia Psittaci is more commonly known as Psittacosis. It is a dangerous bacteria that is passed on by inhaling air that has been contaminated by bird droppings. The signs start off as flu-like symptoms, which develops into pneumonia. Psittacosis is known for being deadly to both animals and humans.


There is no known cure for rabies. It is a lethal zoonotic disease, passed on through the bite of an infected animal, although it can also be transferred by coming into contact with feces or urine, but this is less likely. Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system, showing as flu-like symptoms before developing into abnormal behaviour, paralysis and hydrophobia - a condition where swallowing becomes difficult. It is the hydrophobia that causes the frothing at the mouth, a sign that is commonly associated with rabies.

Preventing zoonotic diseases is not impossible. By maintain good hygiene, and having your dogs and cats regularly vaccinated and treated for parasites, you severely limit the risk of catching any zoonotic illness or disease.


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