Seven Pet ‘Peeves’ That Can Make Us Sick

Dogs, cats, even fish help keep us happy and healthy (mostly) — but here are conditions we must prevent

by Manny Alvarez, MD | Updated 28 Jul 2017 at 11:31 AM

Every day, your pets bring a smile to your face. Maybe you like watching the antics of your fish swimming around his bowl. You might laugh at your cat getting stuck in objects inside the house, or maybe you enjoy scratching your dog’s ears as he greets you at the door.

Pets do bring many laughs and memories, but they can also bring unwelcome sickness.

Here are seven contagious pet diseases you might inherit from your beloved pooch or feline.

1.) Salmonella. While you usually think of this disease from undercooked meats, you can get it from animals around the house, too. Salmonella is a type of bacteria that lives in the gastrointestinal tract. Animals might contract salmonellosis and still appear healthy on the outside. These animals will, however, pass the bacteria into their feces. In turn, they can contaminate other parts of their body, such as their fur.

If you don't wash your hands after touching an infected animal, the bacteria could easily pass to you. To lower your risk, wash your hands thoroughly, especially after coming into contact with animal feces.

2.) Ringworm. Named deceivingly, ringworm actually stems from a fungal infection on the skin. You can get the infection from swimming rooms and locker rooms as well as your infected pets.

To spot ringworm on yourself or your pets, look for the characteristic reddish ring that may have a darker edge than the center. Also, watch for itchy, red, or scaly patches on the skin or broken blisters that ooze.

If the infection affects the scalp (or hair in animals), you might see bald patches or brittle hair in one area. Thankfully, ringworm usually responds well to topical treatments.

3.) Cat-scratch disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40 percent of cats carry the bacteria that cause this infection at some point in their lives. Humans can contract it through a playful bite, scratch, or lick of an open wound.

Sometime after the cat's scratch, you may see the wound puff up and turn red. In addition, you may also experience mild flu-like symptoms, but the disease can affect you more seriously, too.

Related: 25 Weird Cat Behaviors Explained

To prevent infection, do not engage in play with your cat that may result in a scratch or bite. Take measures to get rid of any fleas on your cat, and wash any scratches that do occur with warm water and soap.

4.) Lyme disease. Next, you can contract Lyme disease from the ticks that live on your household pets. These ticks often get picked up during your pet's outdoor exercise and may hide in the fur for a long time.

Related: A 'Tick' Time Bomb to Avoid

If you do contract Lyme disease, you may experience few to no symptoms. However, you may find a bullseye rash on your skin, fever, or muscle/joint pain. You'll need medical treatment right away. (go to page 2 to continue reading)

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