Skip to main content

10 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Pets

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Missbat believes that pet owners should act responsibly and care for their companion animal's health and wellness.

Did you know you can contract diseases from your pets?

Did you know you can contract diseases from your pets?

Raising Awareness on Pet Diseases

As a responsible pet owner, you must do your best to love and care for your animals. Taking them to the vet for annual check-ups and preventative services is a must!

With that said, this article was created as the first step towards awareness for responsible pet owners. It only gives a general overview of ten different diseases that pets can suffer from. It is most certainly not intended as a medical guide!

10 Diseases You Can Get From Your Pet

  1. Cat Scratch Fever
  2. Hookworm
  3. Leptospirosis
  4. Psittacosis
  5. Lyme Disease
  6. Salmonellosis
  7. Toxocariasis
  8. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus
  9. Toxoplasmosis
  10. Brucellosis

Diagnosis Can Only Be Done by a Vet

Please do not try to self-diagnose your pet! This can take away precious time that might save your pet if they are indeed seriously ill. While information on the internet might be able to give you some ideas, only a licensed veterinarian can give you a correct diagnosis!

Cats can transmit "catch scratch fever."

Cats can transmit "catch scratch fever."

1. Cat Scratch Fever (CSD)

What Is Cat Scratch Disease (CSD)?

First discovered in 1889 by Henri Parinaud, this typically benign disease is caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae. It is also known as "cat scratch fever." In 1950, Dr. Robert Debré discovered that cats are a natural reservoir for the bacterium, hence the name "cat scratch disease" or CSD.

About 40% of cats carry Bartonella henselae at some time in their lives, but you cannot tell a carrier from an uninfected cat. The bacteria is more likely to be found in the bloodstream of kittens rather than adult cats.

Symptoms of CSD

  • Swollen lymph nodes (especially around the head, neck, and upper limbs)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

How Do Humans Get It?

CSD is commonly found in children one to two weeks after exposure from a cat scratch or bite. To avoid any possible CSD infections, don't "play rough" with kittens and cats, as they are more likely to scratch or bite. If you do receive a scratch or a bite, immediately wash it thoroughly with running water and soap. Do not allow your kitty to lick any open wound that you may have.

A Hookworm

A Hookworm

2. Hookworms

What Are Hookworms?

A hookworm is a parasite that has "hooks" inside of its mouth for attaching to its host. Puppies and kittens are more likely to be infested with hookworms then adult pets. This is why it is especially important for you, as a responsible pet owner, to take your new pet to a veterinarian and have them "dewormed"—a process that uses medication to kill parasites.

Symptoms of Hookworm

Symptoms of an infestation in humans can manifest in several ways. If do acquire hookworms, the larvae can travel through the body in what is known as "larva migrans." The larvae can also cause a painful, itchy skin condition when they move through the skin—how unpleasant! Hatched larvae can also reach the intestine and cause bleeding, swelling, and abdominal pain.

How Do Humans Get It?

People can become infested with hookworms through contact with animal feces. How is that possible? Children may be exposed when playing in dirt where a pet has gone to the bathroom. Hookworm eggs might be left behind in the dirt and a small child might accidentally ingest them by putting their fingers in their mouth. This is why it is so important to have your pets dewormed!

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Pethelpful

3. Leptospirosis

What Is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called leptospires. Leptospirosis is uncommon in the United States but infections do happen. Dogs are most likely to become infected; while there have been cases of cats becoming infected, it is rare.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis

Infection in humans resembles the flu. Pets can receive a vaccination against Leptospirosis, but because there are so many types of leptospires, it is not 100% effective.

How Do Humans Get It?

The disease is transmitted via urine and other body fluids, but not saliva. Humans and animals can become infected through contact with contaminated urine (or other body fluids), water, or soil.

Rodents such as mice and rats also carry Leptospirosis, so make sure you keep any pest problems under control to minimize the risk of transmission to your pets. Also, keep your pets away from wildlife, such as marine mammals and their habitats, as they may be infected.

Birds transmit psittacosis.

Birds transmit psittacosis.

4. Psittacosis

What Is Psittacosis?

Psittacosis (pronounced "sit-ta-co-sis") is caused by Chlamydia psittaci, a type of bacteria. All birds are susceptible to psittacosis, including pet birds such as:

  • parrots
  • parakeets
  • macaws
  • cockatiels
  • poultry (turkeys and ducks)

Symptoms of Psittacosis (in Birds)

It's difficult to tell whether a pet bird is infected. A sick bird can show one or several of the following symptoms:

  • eye discharge or swelling
  • labored breathing
  • shivering
  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • disheveled appearance
  • diarrhea
  • weakness

How Do Humans Get It?

The disease can be transmitted via the droppings of an infected bird that become aerosolized (dispersed in the air as very fine droplets or dust particles). Inhaling these aerosolized particles causes the infection.

It is important not to overcrowd birds in a cage and to arrange cages so materials such as urine, feces, food, and feathers cannot spread between them. Feeding your bird properly and making sure its cage is clean is very important!

The black-legged tick or deer tick transmits Lyme disease.

The black-legged tick or deer tick transmits Lyme disease.

5. Lyme Disease

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is spread via ticks. When an infected tick hitches a ride on a dog or horse and then jumps to a human and latches onto them, the human can become infected with Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Within one to two weeks of being infected, people may develop a rash that looks like a bull's eye and run a fever. They may also have headaches and muscle or joint pain. Others develop a fever and other flu-like symptoms without a rash. Some people who are infected do not show any early symptoms of the disease.

After several days or weeks, the bacteria may spread throughout the body of an infected person. Rashes may appear on other parts of the body, the pain will move from joint to joint, and signs of inflammation of the heart or nerves will appear. If the disease is not treated, a few patients will experience swelling and pain in major joints and cognitive changes months after infection.

How Do Humans Get It?

To protect yourself from Lyme disease, you should avoid areas that are likely to be infested with ticks, particularly during the spring and summer, whenever possible.

Tips for Prevention

  • Wear light-colored clothes: If you are going into an area where ticks may be found, wear light-colored clothes so you can easily spot and remove a tick before it becomes attached.
  • Tuck your pants in: Since ticks are close to the ground, tuck your pants into your socks and wear high rubber boots to minimize exposure. It is also a good idea to wear long-sleeved shirts.
  • Wear repellents: If the weather is hot, apply insect repellent containing DEET and permethrin—this should help reduce the risk of tick attachment. Follow the directions and apply accordingly.
  • Check for ticks: If you have been in an area where there are ticks, check for them and remove them promptly. Transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi is unlikely to occur before 36 hours after the tick attaches, so do not waste time.
  • Remove ticks: Any embedded ticks should be removed with fine-tipped tweezers and an antiseptic should be used to cleanse the area.
  • Protect your home: Reduce the number of ticks around your home and yard by removing leaf litter and bush/woodpiles. This will keep ticks from getting on your pets!

6. Salmonellosis

What Is Salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis (pronounced sal-mohn-el-OH-sis) is a disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella. Many kinds of animals can pass salmonellosis to people. People typically get salmonellosis by eating contaminated food, such as chicken or eggs.

Symptoms of Salmonellosis

Many different kinds of Salmonella can make people sick. Most people have the following:

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • stomach pain that starts 1 to 3 days after infection

These symptoms usually go away after one week. Sometimes, people have to see a doctor or go to the hospital because the diarrhea is severe or the infection has affected other organs.