Diseases Humans Can Give Dogs

Gross Diseases Humans Can Give Dogs

Updated 01/26/2024 by Ava Jaine

Around cold and flu season, a common question that dog owners will ask is “Can Dogs get Sick From Humans?”  The answer is: Yes! 

There are 5 Gross Diseases Humans Can Give Dogs.  We have compiled a list of illnesses that Humans can transfer to their dogs.

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Table of Contents:


Let’s review some of the most common questions about Human Diseases that can affect your dog.

Can a Dog Catch a Cold From a Human?

No worries, dogs can’t catch the human strain of the cold from you and you can’t catch the dog strain of the cold from your dog.  Dogs do have a cold strain that is very contagious among other dogs.

Fact: If you have a cat in your home, they are prone to catching the human strain of the Cold and Flu.

Diseases Humans Can Give Dogs

Can Dogs Catch the Flu from Humans?

Unfortunately, the Flu has morphed and adapted into different strains that can be passed from humans to their dogs.  Keep in mind, there is a very small chance that your dog can get the human strain of the flu, but it isn’t impossible.

Dog Flu: On the other hand, dogs do have a high change of catching the canine strain of influenza.  The dog strain of the flu is highly contagious and can be easily spread between other dogs. The Dog Flu Symptoms include: fever, cough, runny nose, infection in the lungs, low energy, and loss of appetite.

If you notice your dog has any of these symptoms, get them into the vet ASAP and avoid contact with other dogs.  Help prevent the spread of germs.

What are the Signs of Fever in Dogs?

A dog’s normal temperature is higher than a human’s temperature. A dog’s normal temp can range between 99.5 and 102.5 F degrees.
Here are the most common symptoms of a fever in dogs: (from akc.org) Red eyes, lack of energy, ears are warm to the touch, warm and dry nose, shivering, coughing, vomiting, and loss of appetite.


How Do you Treat a Dog with the Flu?

Just like humans, dogs need plenty of rest and fluids to help them through the flu.  Your vet can provide prescriptions to help your dog as well.  Provide your dog with a calm and quiet environment that will allow them to rest up and feel better.

Can Dogs and Humans Get the Same Illness?

Yes, Lyme disease from an infected tick bit can affect humans and pets.   It can cause major issues in humans and dogs alike.  Symptoms in humans can include facial paralysis, joint pain, headaches, and memory loss.  These symptoms can last a very long time even with treatment.

Lyme disease can give dogs a bad fever, kidney problems, swollen lymph nodes, and lameness in their legs.  Lyme disease can not be passed between humans or between dogs and humans.  It is only spread through the tick bite.

Diseases Humans Can Give Dogs

What Diseases Can Your Dog Get from You?

Diseases that dogs can get from their owners are called Reverse Zoonoses.  The cases of a dog contracting a disease from their owner are usually rare, but they have been reported.

  • Mumps

  • Salmonella

  • MRSA

  • Giardia

  • Norovirus

  • Ringworm



Mumps can affect humans and dogs.  Mumps can be passed from you to your dog.  The Mumps virus is airborne and can be spread through saliva of an infected person (coughing or sneezing).

Symptoms include: This virus can cause headache, fever, and a swollen salivary glands around the neck in humans. Symptoms in Dogs are very similar to humans.


Salmonella is a bacteria that is linked to food poisoning through contaminated food or water. This bacteria lives in the intestines of humans and animals.  We can spread this infection to our dogs, and our dogs can spread it to us.  Salmonella is contagious and is spread through saliva and feces.

Dogs tend to be more resistant to this bacteria than humans, but still get sick if exposed to any infected human saliva or GI bacteria.  Infected humans and dogs can continue to spread the Salmonella bacteria for many weeks after symptoms have ended. Yikes!

Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and cramps.



MRSA (aka: the Super Bug) is a bacterial, staph infection that is resistance to antibiotics.  MRSA is very contagious.  Humans can spread MRSA to Dogs and Dogs can spread it to Humans. 

If anyone in your home has MRSA, extra care should be taken to avoid spreading it to other people or pets. Your vet may take a sample of the infected area on your dog to identify the infection and recommend the proper treatment.

Symptoms include: skin infections, a bump or wound that is red, swollen, painful, and sometimes leaking puss.


Giardia is a parasite that infects the intestines of a human or animal and is passed through their waste.  This infection is spread through drinking water, surfaces, dirt, and food that is contaminated by the feces of an infected human or animal.

Avoid letting your dog drink or swim in water sources like ponds, lakes, or creeks that may be contaminated.  Giardia can be spread from Human to Dog and vice versa.

Symptoms include: watery diarrhea or greasy stool, painful abdominal cramps, dehydration, and gas.



The Norovirus is a very contagious stomach bug that can be spread through consuming tiny particles or poo or vomit from another infected person.   This can happen through sharing food or drink with an infected person or touching a contaminated surface and putting your fingers in your mouth. Yuck!  Yes, you can spread this to your dog.  (Reference: Capital Gazette Post)

Symptoms include: Vomiting


Ringworm is a nasty fungus that infects the skin.  Ringworm can be spread from Human to Dog and Dog to Human.  It is spread through contact with an infected person or touching any contaminated objects.  Passing Ringworm to your dog or getting it from your dog is more common than you think.

Symptoms: In humans, ringworm appears as an itchy red circle on the infected area of the skin.  In dogs, it can cause circular shaped red and itchy bald patches.


How to Keep Your Dog Healthy:

So, How can you keep your dog from getting sick?

  • Wipe Off Dog Paws: When your pup is playing at a park, going for a walk, or visiting a pet store, make sure to wipe your dog’s paws off when returning home.  Any diseases that can be passed from another animal will be passed through their dirty feet, especially in public places.  Wipe off or wash your dog’s paws to stop the spread of germs.

    I really like the ease of using a dog paw washer, its a total game changer for me!  My pups don’t like having their paws washed with a cloth.  They always wiggle and squirm, and sometimes bite.  This dog paw washer (from Amazon) is really easy to use.  It gets the job done a lot quicker and more efficient than the cloth does.

  • Water: Don’t let your dog drink from or swim in random natural water sources.  Also, never let your dog drink from the toilet.  Make sure your dog has access to plenty of clean, fresh water daily to help flush out the bad stuff.

  • Wash Hands: Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before feeding your dog, and after petting your dog.  I even wash my hands after I let my dogs outside to go potty.  Your dog’s leash can drag along the ground and pick up some nasty feces, which can make both of you sick.

  • Kisses: Don’t let your dog lick your face, its an easy way to spread germs.  I love puppy kisses, so this one is tough for me.

  • Nighttime: It is recommended that we don’t share our bed with the dog.  This is also a tough one for me, I enjoy cuddling with my dog.  When I had the flu, I slept in a separate bed from my hubby and the dog.  I quarantined myself good and luckily no one else got sick.

  • Vet Care:  Get your pup examined yearly, and keep your dog’s vaccines up to date.

  • Quality Dog Food:  It is important to feed your dog a healthy diet.  Explore the dog food ingredient list on the back of your dog’s food bag.  The Meat of choice (fish, chicken, beef, etc..) should be listed as the first ingredient.

    Dog foods that mainly contain grain or corn-based fillers aren’t healthy for your dog.  Avoid giving your dog Grain-Free Dog Foods, they have a risk of giving your dog heart disease.  Also, learn more about rotating your dog’s food the right way to avoid upset stomach.

  • Table Scraps:  Don’t feed your dog any table scraps.  It is not good for your dog’s health and it could expose them to contaminated food.

  • Exercise: Walking is not only great at helping your dog maintain a healthy weight, but it is also good for YOU to get outside and move.  You need sunshine and fresh air, especially if you are inside most of the day.

  • Vitamins: Dog-specific Vitamins or Supplements can help boost their immune system and promote a faster recovery during the cold and flu months, just like us.

    I like to recommend Zesty Paws Multivitamins for Dogs (from Amazon).  They are chicken flavor chewables that my dogs absolutely LOVE!  They contain healthy vitamins and minerals that support the skin, coat, joints, heart, digestive function, and strong immune systems for dogs.

  • Weather: Keep your dog warm and dry.  When it rains or snows on your dog, dry them off when they come in the house.  Don’t allow them to stay outside in the cold too long.  Getting wet and cold can lower their immune system.


Overall, the risk of passing a disease to your dog is much lower than a disease that spreads from dog to dog.  Your dog is safer with you and your family than he is with other dogs that may be infected.

A Good Rule of Thumb: Always wash your hands, don’t share food or drinks with others, and keep your distance from your dog when you or your family members are ill.

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