Seven Dog Diseases That Can Affect Human Health

Dogs help humans to reduce effects brought about by day-to-day stressing activities. While playing with your dog, you experience an increased level of the stress-reducing hormone called Oxytocin and a decreases production of the stress hormone known as Cortisol. These hormonal changes help relieve the anxious feeling making you feel more relaxed and affect your physical health.

However, studies have revealed that dogs are a major reservoir for zoonotic diseases. They transmit several viral and bacterial infections to human beings.

In this article, we look at some of the different dog diseases affecting human health.

1. Campylobacteriosis (Bacterial Infection)

A report by PetMD showed that close to 50% of dogs carry Campylobacteriosis a bacterium that causes diarrhea in the United States. The bacterium affects more than one million people annually and can lead to cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. 

Once infected, the symptoms can begin to show after 2 to 5 days. However, it all depends on your immune system. In most cases, this occurs when a person is exposed to the stool of an infected dog. 

Although the infections caused by the bacterium might not seem life-threatening, children and the elderly are at a higher risk since they have a weaker immune system.

2. Rabies

Classified as one of the most severe diseases that humans contract from dogs, rabies has been reported to kill more than 50,000 people annually across the globe. Rabies infect the central nervous system and it's transmitted through a bite from a dog that is infected with the rabies virus.

Note: Although your pet might not have the rabies virus, a bite by other wild animals can lead to the rabies infection. 

Raccoon carrying the rabies virus

Other carriers of the rabies virus include:

  • Foxes
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Bats

Note: If you suspect that a rabid animal has bitten your pet, take it to your veterinarian for immediate care. Moreover, you should do this even if your dog has been vaccinated against the rabies virus. 

Some common symptoms of rabies include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Body Weakness

Severe rabies symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Full or Partial Paralysis

Rabies is also known to cause a sleeping sickness, leads to anxiety, and patients often experience difficulties swallowing.

Rabies is a serious disease that can kill within days after the severe symptoms begin to show.

Therefore, it is recommended that all dogs get an anti-rabies vaccine. In addition, when a dog bites you, consider visiting a health center immediately for treatment to avoid severe symptoms.

3. Dog Tapeworm

The dog tapeworm parasite is spread to pets and people through the ingestion of infected fleas. Despite being a common parasite, it rarely causes illnesses in pets or people.

You can easily detect infections with the pest by finding rice-like segments of the tapeworm that crawl near the anus or in fresh bowel movements. Pets infected by this parasite, experience weight loss and mild diarrhea. 

For humans, the infection by this parasite will not necessarily lead to symptoms.

The best approach to prevent this infection from occurring is to ensure your pet lives in a clean environment and your dog is flea and tick free.

4. Dog Hookworm

These are tiny worms spread when one encounters contaminated sand or soil. The dog hookworm infects your pet through accidental ingesting of the parasite from the environment. Also, puppies can be at risk if they are breastfeeding from their mother.

Stool of infected dogs is one of the ways the dog hookworm spreads to humans. This is especially true when walking barefoot, sitting or kneeling on any ground contaminated with stool of an infected dog.

The larva of the dog hookworm penetrates the human skin causing an itchy reaction referred to as cutaneous larva migrans.

After the larvae have migrated under the human skin, it leads to a red squiggly line. However, the symptoms might resolve weeks after the infection even without medical attention.

5. Pet Allergy 

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), allergies to pets with fur are very common. This is especially true for people who are asthmatic or who have other allergies.

In the US, three in ten people with allergies experience an allergic reaction when they are exposed to dogs. Moreover, anyone who experiences dog allergies might report being more sensitive to certain breeds of dogs. However, some are allergic to all dog breeds.

Dog allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance like a virus or bacteria (allergen). The response is usually in an effort to protect us humans from a potentially dangerous disease.

Additional read: Air Purifiers for Pet Allergies - Do They Really Help?

Dog in allergic state getting groomed

Dog allergens can collect on furniture, or any surface you pup might happen to be around. The good news is that they end up losing their strength over time. 

In some instances, dog allergens are just in the air. Especially during grooming or when your canine is just walking around and rubbing-up on the furniture.

If you suffer from pet allergies leading to respiratory problems, contact respiratory allergy Hawaii for medical treatment and professional advice on the management of the condition.

6. Lyme Disease  

This bacterial disease affects dogs as well as people. Transmitted by a tick bite, Lyme disease can infect other animals.

In dogs, symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Lameness
  • High Fever
  • Lack of Appetite
  • General Weakness
  • Swollen Painful Joints
  • Enlarged Lymph Nodes

In humans, Lyme disease results in a red-eye rash where the tick bites. This can occur a week after the bite and the symptoms will be followed by flu-like symptoms.

7. Plague  

This is a bacterial disease that affects dogs and people and it's a very serious infection that requires immediate medical attention.

The infection is transmitted to humans through a fleabite or when one touches body fluids from an infected canine. 

Symptoms of this illness might include a sudden onset of high fever, headache, malaise or even swollen lymph nodes.

Final Thoughts

Although dogs are some of the most loved pets that we humans want to have around, it's important you observe control methods to ensure the illnesses discussed above do not infect you. In some instances, the viruses or bacteria causing the illnesses is transmitted from other pests and wild animals that your dog might come into contact with. 

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