Pets as Carriers: Understanding Zoonotic Diseases and How to Stay Healthy

Zoonotic diseases, which can be transmitted from pets to people, are more common than you might realize. Despite having a seemingly healthy appearance, your furry friend could potentially carry a contagious condition. That’s why it’s important to stay updated on their preventive care to steer clear of various illnesses.

How can my pet transfer diseases to me?

Pets have several ways of passing germs onto humans, including:

  • Direct contact — Whether it’s through saliva, blood, urine, feces, or other bodily fluids, direct contact with an infected pet can result in disease transmission. So, for instance, if your pet licks a sore on your leg or there’s an accident that needs cleaning up indoors, you could potentially contract an illness.
  •  Indirect contact — Indirect disease transmission occurs when you come into contact with something that an infected pet has contaminated. For example, if a stray cat uses your child’s sandbox as a litter box, and your child subsequently plays in it, they could acquire a roundworm infection.
  •  Vectors — Vectors like ticks and fleas can be attracted to your pet and hitch a ride indoors, where they may bite you and transmit diseases in the process.
  •  Food — Undercooked meat or eggs, as well as raw fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces from an infected pet, are common causes of foodborne illnesses in both humans and their pets.
  •  Water — Drinking water or coming into contact with water that has been contaminated with feces or urine can result in diseases like giardia or leptospirosis being passed on to you.

What diseases can I contract from my pet?

Pets can potentially transmit numerous illnesses to humans, including but not limited to:

  • Bacteria (leptospirosis, salmonella, E. coli, tick-borne diseases, cat scratch disease)
  • Viruses (rabies)
  • Fungi (ringworm)
  • Intestinal parasites (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, toxoplasma)
  • External parasites (scabies, fleas, ticks)

This list is not exhaustive, so it’s crucial always to maintain good hygiene when handling your pet, their waste, or their belongings to prevent disease transmission.

Pets can pass a wide range of pathogens and parasites to their human and animal family members. To safeguard everyone in your household—whether they walk on two legs or four—it is important to prioritize regular preventive care. In need of urgent care for your pet? Give our team a call.