A great many things are unknowingly shared between pets and their people. Unfortunately, some of them can be quite detrimental to our health. 

Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transferred from animals to humans, and vice versa. With more pets being adopted right now and with people staying at home more than ever before, it is essential to understand the risks and the many ways we can prevent sharing illnesses with our best buddies.

Both Wild & Domestic

Zoonotic diseases are common in many animals. Caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi, zoonotic diseases jump easily between pets to people in the following ways:

  • Direct contact with infected blood, saliva, feces, or urine
  • Surfaces like food/water bowls, housing, enclosures, and even soil
  • Insects like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes
  • Food, such as undercooked meat or unwashed fruit or vegetables

People routinely get sick from zoonotic diseases. Symptoms can range between mild and deadly, and largely depend on an individual’s age and general health. Children, adults over the age of 65, and those with compromised immune systems are high risk. 

Have You Heard Of…?

Pets also become sick from zoonotic diseases, sometimes passed unknowingly from people, but typically from infected animals or contaminated environments/surfaces. 

The most common zoonotic diseases and their associated symptoms include the following:

  • Rabies – Transmitted through saliva of an infected animal, rabies can be fatal. Look for any disorientation, staggering, and other changes in behavior like drooling or paralysis. 
  • Lyme Disease – Spread by ticks, Lye disease is a bacterial infection that can cause kidney failure and even death in severe cases. 
  • Leptospirosis – Caused by a cork-screw shaped bacterium, Lepto can cause fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. 
  • Roundworms – This parasitic infection can cause painful abdominal swelling, vomiting, and lethargy
  • Hookworms – Another common parasitic infection, hookworms can lead to weakness, weight loss, anemia, diarrhea (often with blood) and itchy paws.
  • Ringworm – Scaling of the skin on the back, chest, and forelegs is characteristic of this parasitic infection.
  • Cat scratch disease – This bacterial infection is known as bartonellosis can result in fever, loss of appetite, nausea, inflammation and even death. 

Preventing Zoonotic Diseases

Fortunately, there are ways to combat the prevalence of these significant health risks, such as:

  • Maintaining your pet’s parasite prevention
  • Ensuring your pet’s vaccinations are all up to date
  • Keeping routine veterinary examinations
  • Screening for ticks after any time outdoors
  • Washing hands after handling pets
  • Disinfecting any injuries sustained from an animal with soap and water
  • Wearing gloves while working in the soil
  • Discouraging eating prey when your pet hunts
  • Prohibiting raw meat consumption
  • Cleaning cat boxes once a day, and keeping hands clean
  • Covering sandboxes and other play areas when not in use
  • Thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables prior to consumptions
  • Preventing contamination of any of your pet’s water sources, and prohibiting them from drinking from shared water bowls or watering holes. 
  • Avoiding contact with wild animals, and taking extra precautions when walking at night.

Routine wellness exams are the best way to guard against zoonotic diseases that can face any pet. Watch your pet closely for any GI-related or flu-like symptoms, and seek help immediately. The Pet’s Place Animal Hospital is always here to help you detect and prevent any health problems.