Can Dogs Catch Your Cold? All About Things We Don’t Want to Share With Our Pets

We will sometimes even share our plate with our dog. We share the bed, the sofa and we share quality time together but there are actually some things that we share with our pets, and that would be germs and infections. Animals can transmit diseases to humans via zoonosis.  In the last decade, we’ve learned more than ever about the process of zoonosis as we found that animal-borne disease made life miserable for humans. Swine flu and bird flu were transferred to humans by those species, and there’s also reverse zoonosis where humans transmit diseases to animals.  It’s less common for animals to catch human illnesses, but humans can share their misery with their favorite canine company.  Let’s take a look at some cases of reverse zoonosis and a couple of cases when your pet can be the comforter you need.



Mumps is an extremely contagious viral disease in people. It is usually prevented by vaccination in humans however human vaccination numbers are decreasing, and many adults fail to get occasional boosters if at risk. Mumps is a miserable condition. Imagine the worst flu possible with lethargy, muscle pain, headache, and a fever. Mumps then bring on the pain with severe swelling of the parotid salivary glands that are located on the sides of the face. It is most common in unvaccinated children and babies cannot be vaccinated to protect them when under three months of age. The good news is that most cases of the disease can be prevented through vaccination. The vaccine does prevent mumps so it should always be gotten.  It takes a week or two to recover from the mumps, but it can cause serious complications such as deafness, sterility, or even meningitis and other organ inflammation.  It is an avoidable communicable disease that should be prevented by human vaccines. Infected people can even make a dog sick. A dog with the mumps will have a fever, lethargy, and the telltale swelling of their glands below their ears. Your vet will need to examine your pet to ensure it is not another salivary gland condition. The infected swollen gland may be aspirated and analyzed in a lab. Dogs recover from a mumps infection in about a week to ten days. There is not a treatment so only the symptoms can be treated, so care is focused on keeping the dog comfortable. Mumps has to run their course. The best way to avoid your dog getting mumps is to keep him away from an infected person.



Salmonella is the bacteria that can be blamed for the majority of food poisoning cases. Infected animals and infected humans can also transmit it to each other. The symptoms of salmonella poisoning are the same no matter which species has it or gave it to the other. In humans and dogs, salmonella causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal spasms, diarrhea, fever, and even headaches. Young children and the elderly are more at risk for dehydration from Salmonella. Dogs recover in a few days just like humans will if healthy and are typically more resilient to the effects of salmonella than humans. However, you should always take precautions if you have salmonella present. If there’s chicken that smelled funky and thrown away, emptying the trash before your dog has time to investigate and eat the funky chicken is the way to spare everyone from salmonella poisoning. Hygiene helps reduce the chance of salmonella spreading or crossing over to your dog. You should always wash your hands and not let your dog drink from the toilet bowl.



Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is a fungal infection of the skin that affects both humans as well as animals. Ringworm in people presents as an itchy, round rash with a clear red line around it in most cases. It is very contagious. Ringworm can cause areas of hair loss (alopecia) that vary in the degree of itchiness. It is not only transmitted by direct contact between people or animals and people but can also be transmitted by fungus-infected items like brushes or towels. Ringworm is treated with topical antifungal medication, and when necessary it can be treated with oral antifungal drugs. Shampoos and dips are used to kill the fungus to prevent the spread of the spores. Vets treating ringworm-infected dogs warn humans how contagious it is. Pets are often are how humans get random cases of ringworm, especially if someone pets stray animals. To avoid giving your dog your case of ringworm, keep the affected area covered and use your antifungal medication for the complete recommended time to prevent a reoccurrence. Playing fetch by re-infecting each other with itchy rash-causing fungal infections is not the back and forth interaction you and your dog will enjoy.


Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria has developed resistance to several types of antibiotics cause MRSA. This is a “superbug” that is sometimes found in health care settings. It occurs most often when other illnesses already weaken a patient’s immune system. It can also be contracted in the general community. MRSA manifests as skin infections, but it can also be found in cases of bacterial pneumonia. It also can occur on surgical sites and can infect the entire bloodstream causing dangerous sepsis. MRSA has various treatments, and it is required to be cultured to see which antibiotics it will respond to. Treatment requires 6-8 weeks of antibiotic treatment and after the treatment; the patient must have the cultures repeated to make sure the infection is gone. MSRA is incredibly hard to fight. Pet owners who are employed in health care have a risk of transmitting the infection to their pets, but that risk is very low due to health care workers using proper hygiene.



Giardia infection, or giardiasis, is one of the most common waterborne infections in the U.S. Unless a dog is a water sporting dog, there is no need to consider the optional vaccine for this, but a vaccine that provides some protection is available for dogs.  Giardia is a protozoan infection that can be found in the dogs, cats and even some exotic pets. It’s transmitted via feces and contaminated water. It causes diarrhea and weight loss from the resulting dehydration. It is most often seen in a pet store or breeder dog. It is also more common in the Southern US. Hotter weather conditions, have ideal environments for the protozoan to thrive. Humans can get Giardia from a dog’s feces and then transmit it to other dogs. Dogs are more likely to get it from other dogs and dogs are kept in close quarters like in pet stores and puppy mills, this condition is highly transmittable. Giardia transmission is most often from contaminated water. Even drinking water and swimming pool water can get contaminated with giardia. Natural bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and streams or even spa and hot springs can harbor this pathogen. Giardia in dogs causes severe diarrhea. Fecal analysis can confirm the diagnosis so an anti-protozoan drug like fenbendazole and/or metronidazole can be used to kill the cause of the illness.


Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial disease spread through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Deer ticks are another name for these ticks. The onset of Lyme in humans includes a growing patch of redness on the skin that resembles a bulls-eye, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. 20-25% of those affected do not have a rash. Testing is not as reliable as false positive and false negatives are quite common. Untreated Lyme disease is very serious. It can lead to partial facial paralysis, joint pain, severe headaches, memory loss, and heart palpitations. Even after medical treatment, those affected with Lyme disease can experience a decreased quality of life and symptoms for a long duration even over six months or more.  Lyme disease is just as serious in canines. Swollen lymph nodes, fever, lack of appetite, kidney issues, and potential lameness can be caused by the systemic infection causing joint inflammation. Treatment normally uses the antibiotic doxycycline, although other medications can be used with the doxycycline or in place due to allergies. For canine and human alike, it is a resistant infection and may require several courses of medication. Even with prompt and appropriate treatment, symptoms can occur again although chronic Lyme is a hotly debated subject.  The disease can’t be passed from person to person or from person to dog. Tick bite prevention is a safety measure that protects your dog from Lyme disease as is humans using tick repellant when walking in wooded areas or in the NE USA where Lyme is most common.


The Common Cold and the Flu

It is very unlikely a human can give their dog a cold or the flu. The viruses that cause cold-like symptoms in people and dogs are species-specific. However, the flu is different, zoonosis in the flu has only occurred in the swine and bird forms of influenza thus far. Some strains can indeed be passed from humans to other animals, including dogs. However, to date, no humans have gotten the two strains of influenza that dogs contract nor have humans ever tested positive for dog flu. Often a dog and their owner both contract the sniffles at the same time, however, but it may be just bad luck or another pathogen that can infect both species. It’s perfectly ok to cuddle your puppy for comfort when you have the flu or a cold. You can be your dog’s emotional support when they have the sniffles without worrying.


You can keep your pet and yourself healthy by taking precautions like frequent hand washing and not letting your dog lick your face.  The risk of transmitting an illness from pet to owner and vice versa is of much more concern to households with people or animals with compromised immune systems. Pets and people with immune disorders caused by infections, chemotherapy, steroid use, and diabetes, for some examples, have to be extra vigilant in making sure there are no infections or cross-infections around the pet or human patient. These groups cannot fight off infections easily and can become more severely ill if they get a mild illness. Working with a vet and your primary care physician will ensure the health of your pet and you.

Hope this article answered your questions or concerns about Can You Dog Catch Your Cold. If you would like more articles, tips and tools about all kinds of pets, visit our website 2 Paws Up Inc Pet Sitting and Dog Walking in Snellville, Centerville, Lilburn, Grayson, Loganville, and parts of Tucker, Norcross, Stone Mountain, and Lawrenceville. https://2pawsupinc.com,



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