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Can my dog make me sick?

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Most dog people encourage their furry friends to cover them with kisses. Chihuahua owners especially must be okay with lots of kisses and cuddles, since these little guys love their people.
 
Other people gasp when your dog licks your face, saying “Yuck! You’re going to get sick!”. Though you probably shrug it off, do you ever wonder if there is any truth to their statement?
 
Before we go through the diseases that can be transmitted to humans from canines, let me state that I have had multiple dogs all my life.
 
My dogs sleep in the same bed with me, and give me lots of doggy kisses. As far as I know, I have never gotten any illnesses from my dogs. 
 
If anything, my dogs keep me healthy. I exercise more because of them. They have been my emotional support system all of my life.
 
And there have been several times when I was much younger, that I may have taken my own life, if it hadn’t been for my dogs.
 
So over all, dogs will keep you healthy. Do you agree?
man cuddling a chihuahua

Can your dog get you sick?

Yes, your dog can transmit some diseases to you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can affect both animals and people, and can be transmitted between species.

How are zoonotic diseases spread between carriers?

Both humans and dogs may contract zoonotic diseases from the following sources:

Direct Contact with an infected dog

Zoonotic diseases can be spread by direct contact with saliva, mucous, blood, urine, fecal matter, or any other bodily fluid.

When picking up after your Chihuahua or any other dog, always use a pick up bag and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterwards.

Never allow a dog you do not know to lick your face and mouth unless you know that they are well and healthy.

Indirect Contact with an infected dog’s habitat

Humans and animals can pick up infectious germs through indirect contact, also known as cross contamination.

A sick raccoon urinates in your yard; your Chihuahua eats the grass; your Chihuahua licks your face.

Be sure to regularly clean your Chihuahua’s water bowls, and never allow your Chihuahua to share water bowls with other dogs.

If you have multiple pets, always wash your hands between cleaning their habitats; if you clean your fish tank, wash your hands before preparing your Chihuahua’s meal.

Being bitten by an infected animal

If a sick animal bites you, immediately seek medical treatment.

Eating contaminated food

While growing your own organic vegetables in your garden is fun, healthy, and delicious, it would not be fun to get sick.

As wild animals often help themselves to your garden, be sure to thoroughly wash any vegetables or fruits before eating them.
man kissing a chihuahua

What diseases can I get from my dog?

There are approximately 21 diseases that dogs can transmit to their humans. The most common diseases spread between dogs and humans are:

  • The most well known zoonotic disease is the rabies virus. Rabies is spread through the bite of an infected animal or through contact with saliva.Rabid animals have behavioral changes and eventually become paralyzed. This disease is neurological and can cause death.
  • Tapeworms are spread by ingesting infected fleas. Tapeworms are a very common zoonotic disease. However, most dogs and humans do not struggle with unpleasant physical symptoms.Infected patients will have rice like tape worms in their poop, and possibly crawling on their bottom.
  • Hookworms are transmitted through infected sand or soil. Most dogs contract hookworms by ingesting them in their environment and most puppies ingest them through their mother’s milk.Humans usually contract them by walking barefoot on contaminated sand or soil.The only good thing about hookworms is that they generally dissipate on their own without medical treatment.
  • Campylobacteriosis is spread by eating contaminated meat or eggs, or through contact with infected fecal matter.Dogs may show no symptoms, or minimal symptoms of diarrhea and fever.Infected humans exhibit diarrhea, stomach pain, and fever within approximately 2-5 days of becoming infected.
  • Roundworms are generally transmitted to dogs and humans environmentally.Infected dogs and puppies often have a potbelly, and infected puppies may have developmental problems as a result of being infected.These worms impact vision, the lungs, the liver, or the central nervous system in humans.
  • Lyme disease is spread by ticks. Infected dogs will display physical symptoms of joint pain or lameness, lethargy, decreased appetite, and swollen lymph nodes.Infected humans will have a bulls-eye patterned or large round red rash, and flu-like symptoms shall follow. Lyme can be fatal to humans if left untreated.
  • Giardia is a parasite, most often spread through contaminated water. This causes diarrhea and dehydration in both dogs and humans.Humans may experience symptoms akin to food poisoning as well. Dogs may also have greasy poop.
  • Leptospirosis is spread by the urine of an infected animal being in the drinking water of another animal.Lepto is difficult to diagnose in dogs, however, it is imperative that they receive treatment, as untreated lepto can lead to liver or kidney failure.Infected humans experience symptoms similar to the flu, and may not require medical treatment.

a small girl hugging a chihuahua puppy

How can Chihuahua owners keep their Chihuahuas and themselves healthy?

Thankfully, it is easy to prevent both dogs and people from getting most of these diseases.

Humans should practice good hygiene, such as washing their hands before touching their mouth, eyes, face, or food, and only drinking clean water.

Since Chihuahuas are snuggle bugs who love to be near their people, to keep yourself healthy, you must keep your Chihuahua healthy:

  • Arrange for regular veterinary care for your Chihuahua.
  • Give monthly preventatives for heart worm, fleas, and ticks. Even Chihuahuas who do not spend very much time outside, or minimal time in the grass, can contract fleas or ticks.
  • Bathe and brush your Chihuahua regularly.Long haired Chihuahuas will especially provide an attractive home to fleas. Spread their long hair apart and inspect their roots; if you see lots of little brown granules that look like dirt, that is flea dirt.Immediately purchase flea and tick shampoo (or use Dawn dish liquid) to kill the fleas on your Chihuahua.Wash all of their bedding, and inspect the areas of your home that they frequent for fleas.Purchase a flea powder or spray to eradicate them from furniture if necessary.

    If you’d rather take care of fleas naturally check out: natural flea treatments.

  • Do not allow your Chihuahua to drink out of public dog bowls or from natural water sources like the ocean, a pond or a creek.
  • Always supervise your Chihuahua when they are playing outside; they could eat wild animal droppings and become infected.
  • Ask for a tour of any grooming facility or doggy day care facility before taking your Chihuahua there for their services. If the facilities are dirty, they may contract something unpleasant.

Dogs are able to transmit zoonotic diseases to their owners. Despite the risk of zoonotic diseases, there are many benefits to having a dog, especially a Chihuahua, as Chihuahua owners will tell you.

sick fawn chihuahua

Can you pass a sickness to your dog?

Yes there are some diseases that your dog can catch from you.

  • Giardia We talked about this in the what we can catch from dogs section.Not only can we catch this disease from our dogs, they can catch it from us too.It causes diarrhea.
  • Mumps This disease is very rare now thanks to the MMR vaccine. Though the disease is considered a childhood disease, adults can get it too.Dogs can catch this from humans though it rarely happens.The symptoms for both dogs and humans are a severe sore throat, headache, fever, fatigue and loss of appetite.There is no cure for Mumps but it will go away on it’s own within a week or so.
  • Salmonella is usually caused from food poisoning. The bacteria that causes it can be transferred from humans to canines.
  • Ringworm is a skin lesion that looks like a ring on the skin. It may itch and despite sounding like it comes from a parasite, it actually comes from a fungus.Ringworm is highly contagious and can be transmitted to you dog.It can be treated but sometimes causes some scarring.
  • MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a highly contagious skin condition that can lead to death. It is caused by bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.Canines can catch this from humans. There is treatments available but they don’t always work.
  • Tuberculosis is not common now, but there still are occasional cases that pop up.Dogs can get this from humans.The symptoms are the same for both which are coughing, weight loss, slow healing wounds and lumps appearing on the body.There are treatments for TB but they don’t always work. 
  • Second Hand Smoke this is different from the other diseases presented since the problems from this are not caused by a bacteria, virus or other parasite. It’s also completely preventable.Although this isn’t caught from humans, dogs can get sick due to the person’s smoking.Second hand smoke can cause cancer, lung problems, and weight gain.

So I hope this post didn’t scare you. It wasn’t meant to scare but to inform you. 

Have you ever caught anything from your dog? Or has your dog ever caught anything from you? Or even do you know someone who got sick from their dog or their dog got sick from them? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

a timid chihuahua
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Jan Beebe

Friday 20th of September 2019

This is my Molly,she is 4 years old. She loves to cuddle and sleeps under the covers. This is her natural setting position when she wants attention.

Cathy

Saturday 21st of September 2019

So cute Jan!