Zoonoses is scientific term for infectious diseases passed from animals to humans, or humans to animals (called reverse zoonoses).
This includes diseases that are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Depending on the disease, zoonoses can be spread in a number of different ways – from bites, contact with urine, feces or saliva or even simply airborne. Some can cause only mild illness, while others, like rabies, can be fatal. But don’t be alarmed – you’re more likely to get most of these illnesses from raw or undercooked food.
So just what CAN you catch from your Morkie?
The most common illnesses that MIGHT be passed from your dog to you and your family are: Roundworms
- roundworms are not common in North America but do infect about 1
in 4 people in developing countries
- dogs (especially puppies) and cats shed roundworm eggs in their feces. You or your children can become infected by accidentally swallowing dirt that has been contaminated with dog or cat feces that contain the infectious eggs, and the cycle begins
- symptoms include fever, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, or abdominal pain
- there are lots of different kinds of hookworm – one in particular can be passed from animals to people called animal hookworm
- people don’t get infected directly from animals; instead
they walk barefoot on ground surfaces that have been contaminated by dog feces (a good reason to ALWAYS wear shoes or sandals outside)
- puppies and kittens often carry the larvae and it’s easily picked up by barefoot children
- what happens is the larvae of this hookworm penetrates the skin and causes red, itchy raised rings on the skin
- it can also be accompanied by abdominal pain and diarrhoea
- although it’s POSSIBLE to get this serious poisoning from dogs, it’s mostly passed to humans via reptiles, mice and rats, and more commonly picked up by people from food sources like raw meat and raw eggs
- dogs can carry salmonella germs and not be affected themselves; instead, they simply expel the germs when they poop (another reason to wash, wash, wash after caring for your dog)
Ringworm Which isn’t a worm by the way — it’s a fungal infection …
- ringworm is contagious and very easily passed from one individual to another
- many species of animals are susceptible to ringworm, including both dogs and cats
- people can become infected infected with ringworm through contact with infected pets; however, they can also become infected through contact with other infected people and through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.
What diseases and illnesses are NOT from your dog?
Pinworms – Pinworms are a common problem for people, particularly for children. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), pinworms are the most common worm infection in the United States and throughout many parts of the world. There’s often confusion about how people get pinworms: only humans can transmit this type of infection.
The 3-step solution? Hygiene, common sense and keeping an eye on your dog
- good hand washing goes a long way in deterring these zoonoses
- keep your dog clean as well – regular bathing and combing helps and it also lets you check on the condition of his skin and coat, often leading indicators of illness in dogs
- clean up dog poop and urine right away
- wash your dog’s bedding regularly
- keep water and food dishes clean, and separate for each pet
- get your pets wormed regularly and consider heart worm medication
- make sure they have veterinarian check ups at least annually
- feed your dog a quality diet
- infants, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system, should be extra vigilant about exposing themselves to dangers
Watch your dog
- keep an eye on your dog: don’t allow him to eat garbage, dead animals or birds or hang out at bird feeders (birds can a number of zoonoses)
- beware of pet food recalls – especially pet snacks like jerky treats. They are often recalled because of salmonella dangers (visit DogFoodAdvisor.com for regular updates)
- don’t let your dog eat poop or drink out of the toilet (which would be quite a feat for a Morkie!)