Can We Get Sick From Our Pets?
19 July, 2016

We try our best to keep our cats and dogs healthy and hope they never get sick, but it’s inevitable to happen.  Our pets might come down with a cold or another virus usually from another pet.  And, when that does happen, is it OK for us to have our dogs giving us kisses or our cats licking us??  The answer is yes! For the most part, we humans won’t catch our pets’ illnesses but there are some exceptions.

The most common sickness or illness that affect our pets don’t affect us humans in the same way.  And, the reverse can be said for our pets.  If your dog or cat has a cold, it is very unlikely that you will catch it. The viruses that give animals things like coughs, colds and the flu are different from the ones that cause these illnesses in people and they don’t spread back and forth between humans and animals.

Below are some illnesses that will affect your pets but not us humans:

Common colds and upper respiratory illnesses

There are several viruses that can cause upper respiratory diseases in cats and dogs. None of these are transmitted to humans but can be very contagious to other dogs or cats. And of course, there are hundreds of viruses that cause colds in humans, but you can’t spread them to your pets either.

Canine Parvovirus

This virus causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, among other symptoms and can be very serious or even fatal. There is an illness known “Fifth Disease” that can make us sick, but it is a completely different virus with symptoms including a rash and a low fever.

Kennel Cough

This chronic and often severe cough can cause serious respiratory complications for your dog and is highly contagious among dogs, but will not cause infection in humans.


Left untreated, heartworms will be fatal to your dog or cat but they are not transmitted to humans.

Below are some illnesses that can be passed onto us from our pets:

There are several serious illnesses that you can catch from your pet most are caused by other outside sources:

The most serious infection that can be passed from animals to humans is rabies

As most pet parents know, it is really important to have your pets vaccinated to prevent rabies and if you or your dog or cat is bitten by another animal, go to your doctor or the emergency room immediately. You should also try to find out if the bite was from an animal that does have rabies.

Lyme disease can get humans and pet sick

Our dog and cats can get Lyme disease from ticks, just like we humans do. You will not get Lyme disease just because your dog or cat has it, the tick that infected your pet could have infected you as well.  If you have dogs or cat, you should check them daily for ticks and also check yourself and your children if you have been outside, hiking or camping.

Lice can infect pets and humans

Lice can infect pets as well as people. In fact, lice can be a very serious threat to animals, while they are typically just an itchy nuisance to humans.

Scabies or mange is rare in cats but can affect dogs and humans

Indoor cats rarely get mange or scabies, but dogs can be susceptible.  Scabies is highly contagious to humans. It is caused by mites and symptoms usually include severe itching, skin irritation and hair loss in dogs and humans and needs to be treated right away.


Salmonella usually does not make animals sick, but it can be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea.  It is common in reptiles which is why children under five years of age should not have pet turtles.

Can pets catch colds from us humans?

Dogs don’t get colds or viruses from humans, but dogs can get viruses from other dogs.  Cats can catch a cold or flu from you but again, that is very rare.  The swine flu a couple years back had some cases of humans to cat, but it is still not a proven fact.  And a virus in the upper respiratory tract of cats is very similar in how it affects humans so there is a chance that humans can get a cold from cats! Cats also get cat-to-cat viruses that are similar to a cold, but humans can’t catch those.

If you have a pet, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands often, especially after petting them when they are sick.  If any dog or cat is sick, keep him away from family members with a weak immune systems, such as pregnant women and elderly relatives.

Regular vet visits and up -to- date vaccinations will keep pets and humans healthy!

If you make sure your pets get their shots and are up to date on all their vaccines, you will keep them and yourself healthy! If you are concerned about a minor virus, such as a cold being passed between your family and your pet, it is very rare, but it always a good idea to check with your veterinarian and/or medical doctor.

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