Pet Sick Blog

Can My Dog or Cat Make Me Sick?

It’s scary to think that our beloved furry friends can carry and transmit illness causing parasites, viruses, and bacteria that can make us sick. It’s important to remember that not all diseases are contagious. Many diseases aren’t contagious or are transmissible only between the same species. However there are some diseases that can spread from animal to human.

Diseases that can spread from animals to humans (and vice versa) are called Zoonotic diseases. Some common zoonotic diseases are salmonellosis, rabies, giardia, scabies, ringworm and intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.

In recent times there has been a lot of speculation (and false rumours) about COVID-19 spreading from pets to humans. Animals can become infected with the virus but their chances of spreading it to humans are very low according to what is known about the virus so far. The coronavirus is still a relatively new virus so there is a lot we don’t know but as of now there is no need to be concerned about getting it from your pet.

Preventative Measures

What can you do to make sure you and your pet are as safe as possible?

Some types of parasites can be avoided by preventative measures. Examples of internal parasites that can be prevented are heartworm (not transmissible to humans), fleas and ticks, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Frequency of administering preventative medicines depend on your pet’s lifestyle and your veterinarian’s recommendation. Some pets don’t need frequent medications but some benefit from monthly preventative doses. No matter what you decide make sure that any medications are prescribed by your veterinarian. Follow the instructions of usage exactly and don’t guess or take chances if in doubt.

Some parasites do not have medication for preventing them and can only be treated if contracted. Examples are tapeworms, giardia, and coccidia. These parasites are transmissible to humans and other pets so if you’re concerned, there are ways to find out whether your pet might have them. Annual fecal tests can determine whether any of these parasites are present in your pet’s body. Some vets recommend testing twice a year depending on your pet’s needs. The vet will ask you to collect a stool sample from your pet and drop it off for testing. The results will indicate whether your pet needs medication for treatment or not.

Parasite prevention medication and testing for parasites are the best ways to ensure your peace of mind and keep you and your pet safe.

Pet Lifestyle

Your pet’s lifestyle can also affect how susceptible he/she is to parasites. According to research, house cats who go outdoors are much more likely to pick up and become carriers of parasites (and certain viruses) than pet cats who stays indoors all the time. Pets who go outdoors can pick up parasites from insects and ticks, prey, other animals, and even soil.

Whether your pet goes outdoors regularly or occasionally or whether it stays indoors all the time depends on whether it’s a cat or dog, it’s energy levels, and it’s personality. Dogs in general need to go out a lot more than cats do. Cats can be perfectly happy indoors without ever having the desire to step outside. However some cats (like rescues who have lived on the street for long for example) may enjoy being outdoors more.

Spaying and neutering can help reduce the urge to roam for pets but some pets (including cats) still want to run and play outside. The outside world is a dangerous place for a pet (especially if unsupervised and allowed to roam like some house cats are). It’s not advisable to let your pet wander around outdoors alone (no matter how much they cry for it). A safer option is to build an enclosed space connected to your garden or patio where they can spend time enjoying the sun and laying around (especially cats). This allows them to enjoy the outdoors without the danger of getting attacked by other animals, getting lost, or accidentally getting run over by vehicles. 

If you want to minimize your pet’s chances of catching and transmitting parasites and viruses, scientific evidence suggests keeping him/her indoors (especially cats). An example of an extremely dangerous virus is the rabies virus. A perfectly healthy pet could get rabies from an animal with rabies due to being bitten or scratched during a fight for example. Rabies can be passed on before the animal even shows any signs of being infected. In this case the pet owner wouldn’t even know their pet contracted rabies and passed it on to them as there were no visible symptoms. The only way to survive is a preventative vaccine and to get shots as soon as possible after being bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. Once an animal or human starts showing symptoms, it’s already too late and treatment will not work. This is why your dog or cat’s yearly vaccinations are so important and should not be overlooked. Rabies is now rare in many parts of the world thanks to dogs and cats being vaccinated against it.

Some parasites are only activated and dangerous in pets who go roaming around outdoors. An example is the toxoplasma gondii or “litter box parasite” in cats. This is the parasite that we hear so much about and that pregnant women and people with weak immune systems are supposed to stay away from (and therefore not handle cat litter). Cat Scratch Disease is another commonly talked about illness and is caused by a bacterial infection and not a parasite.


Parasites can be transmitted in different ways. A bite or scratch, saliva, pet waste, and dander on skin can all become the reason for infection. Groups that are especially vulnerable are young children (under five years of age), pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems (such as the elderly or someone recovering from an illness or surgery).

An example of a parasite that spreads simply by touching is ringworm. Ringworm can spread very quickly from animal to animal and animal to human as well. As a general rule when you handle or play with your pet, clean their food or water bowls, bedding etc., always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. If there are children in the household teach them to wash their hands every time after petting or playing with a pet.

When you’re cleaning, removing, or disposing of pet waste be sure to wear gloves. If you’re scooping or cleaning your cat’s litter box wear gloves and a mask if needed. Once done, throw the gloves away and wash your hands properly. Use disinfectant spray on any household surfaces you touched with your gloves such as door knobs, bathroom handles, or light switches etc. Make sure to clean and disinfect your pet’s area with pet safe cleaning materials. Any odor removing sprays, odor absorbing blocks and gels, or diffusers used in or near your pet’s area must be pet safe. Never use essential oil diffusers near your pet as some oils are toxic to pets and can cause serious reactions like vomiting and seizures requiring emergency medical attention.


The best way to ensure your pet’s health and your safety is through check ups and testing. Following a veterinarian prescribed plan of action to keep your pet healthy will save you and your pet a lot of trouble and ill health later on.

Wash your hands every time you touch your pet, as many illnesses can be prevented simply by practicing good hygiene. Wishing you and your pets lots of health and joy 🐾❤️



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