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Diseases You Can Get From Your Pet

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that humans can get from animals. While it’s not that common for you to pick up an infection or a rash from your pet, it can happen. In the WebMD Pet Health Community, M. Duffy Jones, DVM, guides pet owners through some of the most common threats in this group of diseases.

Three parasitic, intestinal diseases that pets can pass on to their human families are:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Giardia

All of these parasites can be found either in contaminated water or in the sand or soil where an infected animal has defecated.

These parasites are nothing to sneeze at. Roundworms can lead to vision loss. Giardia can cause diarrhea. And hookworms and giardia can both cause severe skin rashes, among other problems.

The best prevention strategies for these parasites include:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Routine stool checks for your pet
  • Use of good deworming practices (Heartworm medications also help prevent roundworms.)

Other zoonotic diseases to be on the lookout for include:

  • Lyme disease, spread by ticks -- the same ticks that you should check your outdoorsy pets for on a regular basis
  • Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that is spread through contaminated water
  • Ringworm, a fungal infection that can cause an itchy skin rash

And last but not least among these diseases is rabies, a virus that causes neurological problems for animals and humans, if left untreated. It is essential to keep your pets current on their rabies vaccines, Jones cautions, not just to protect the pet, but to protect yourself and your household, as well.

Have you had to deal with any of these diseases for your furry family member? What was your experience?

Discussion led by M. Duffy Jones, DVM Guest Expert
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