Can my dog get sick from my human illness?

  • When I'm sick in bed, nothing feels better than my dog snuggled up under my arm (except when my arm is hurt, or whatever I have this time gives me an aversion to pet-derived warmth). Based on the illness I have (the flu, for example), I expose the dog to a lot of my germs.

    Can I get my dog sick from my human-borne germs?

  • Cuthbert

    Cuthbert Correct answer

    8 years ago

    In the case of the flu, it depends on the strain of it. The specific type of disease that transmits from humans to animals and the other way around is called a Zoonotic Disease. According to PetMD:

    The potential for zoonosis depends on a variety of factors, including climate, geography, population density, sanitary conditions (or lack thereof), grooming habits, and other factors.

    Something like Swine Flu is a good example and the linked article provides many more.

    In the case of ferrets and the flu, its possible to transmit generally human-only strains to them. This is why ferrets are commonly used in studies because their immune system is similar to our own. From Wikipedia:

    Because they share many anatomical and physiological features with humans, ferrets are extensively used as experimental subjects in biomedical research, in fields such as virology, reproductive physiology, anatomy, endocrinology, and neuroscience.

    To really answer your question: In general, no. But there are other factors (like the particular strain of a disease) that can cause you to transmit your disease to your animal. If you're unsure, I think you should attempt to distance yourself from the animal or at the very least try to avoid contaminating their food.

    Also, guinea pigs can get the flu, a fact that was forgotten until someone happened to read an off-hand remark from a 1918 book about all of a lab's guinea pigs suddenly dying during the pandemic. (This led to previously elusive proof of the effect of temperature on flu transmission; guinea pigs had fallen out of favor as experimental animals despite their name being synonymous with it, and no one had thought to use them as an animal model for the flu before.)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM