When I'm sick in bed, nothing feels better than my dog snuggled up under my arm (except when my arm is hurt, or whatever I have this time gives me an aversion to pet-derived warmth). Based on the illness I have (the flu, for example), I expose the dog to a lot of my germs.

Can I get my dog sick from my human-borne germs?


In the case of the flu, it depends on the strain of it. The specific type of disease that transmits from humans to animals and the other way around is called a Zoonotic Disease. According to PetMD:

The potential for zoonosis depends on a variety of factors, including climate, geography, population density, sanitary conditions (or lack thereof), grooming habits, and other factors.

Something like Swine Flu is a good example and the linked article provides many more.

In the case of ferrets and the flu, its possible to transmit generally human-only strains to them. This is why ferrets are commonly used in studies because their immune system is similar to our own. From Wikipedia:

Because they share many anatomical and physiological features with humans, ferrets are extensively used as experimental subjects in biomedical research, in fields such as virology, reproductive physiology, anatomy, endocrinology, and neuroscience.

To really answer your question: In general, no. But there are other factors (like the particular strain of a disease) that can cause you to transmit your disease to your animal. If you're unsure, I think you should attempt to distance yourself from the animal or at the very least try to avoid contaminating their food.

  • 3
    Also, guinea pigs can get the flu, a fact that was forgotten until someone happened to read an off-hand remark from a 1918 book about all of a lab's guinea pigs suddenly dying during the pandemic. (This led to previously elusive proof of the effect of temperature on flu transmission; guinea pigs had fallen out of favor as experimental animals despite their name being synonymous with it, and no one had thought to use them as an animal model for the flu before.)
    – Wooble
    Oct 15 '13 at 15:43

We can give dogs Infections like Staph and MRSA especially if their skin is compromised. ..I.e. Scrape, hot spot, allergy skin suffers, I/V ports, wounds ect. We are a host when we touch other dogs or unsanitized surfaces and objects that have MRSA or staph. If another dog has any break in their skin and we touch it without washing our hands or wearing gloves we can give it to them. Its the chain of infection and we need to begin breaking it. Its not called zoonosis when it is from my human to pet it is called REVERSED Zoonosis.

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