A man in a surgical mask puts a surgical mask on his dog.

A zoonotic disease, or zoonosis, is a disease that can be transmitted from pets to humans. There are over one hundred zoonotic diseases on Earth, the majority of which are found outside of North America. Zoonotic diseases are a concern for everyone, but pet owners in particular are at increased risk.

Keeping our pet patients and their families healthy is our top priority at Evandale-Blue Ash Pet Hospital. We’ve got the lowdown on zoonotic diseases, and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your pets.

Common Zoonotic Diseases

Rabies – Rabies is probably the most widely known, and feared, zoonotic disease. Any Caused by a virus, rabies affects mammals and is almost always fatal. The rabies vaccine is required by law for pet dogs and cats in all fifty states and is the best way to protect animals and people. Taking measures to keep wildlife out of your yard/property, such as using fencing and keeping pet food and bowls indoors, will also help.

Tick-borne illnesses – Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and other tick-borne illnesses are highly transmissible to people and pets and cause serious problems. Lyme disease is the most common, and can induce flu-like symptoms and long term health complications in people. An estimated 10-15% of dogs who contract Lyme develop fever, joint pain, lameness, and swelling of the lymph nodes.

Leptospirosis – This disease, caused by the bacterium Leptospira, is typically transmitted to dogs through water or soil contaminated by the urine of infected wildlife. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, increased thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. We recommend the leptospirosis vaccine for dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors.

Intestinal parasites – Tapeworm, roundworm, and hookworm are all, unfortunately, easily passed from pets to humans. Make sure your pet’s monthly parasite protocol includes an intestinal parasite medication, and always wash your hands after cleaning up pet waste.

Toxoplasmosis – This single-celled organism is spread by rodents and is commonly brought into homes via indoor-outdoor cats. Most healthy people and animals will experience little to no symptoms if infected, but immune compromised people and pregnant women are at significant risk. 

Ringworm – This zoonotic skin disease is actually caused by a fungus (not a worm) and is transmitted to people relatively easily through direct contact.

Keeping Zoonotic Diseases at Bay

When it comes to protecting your pet and your family from zoonotic diseases, prevention is key. Make sure to keep your pet on a year-round parasite protocol and keep up with important vaccinations through the annual or bi-annual wellness appointments

By keeping your pet in good health, you’re also protecting the other people and animals in your life. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information.