5 Nasty Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog

Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog

Updated By

Can Dogs Make Humans Sick?

The answer is: Yes! There are many Parasites, Worms, and Diseases you can catch from your Dog.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a commission at no cost to you.  Please review our disclosure for details.

What is a Parasite?

A parasite is an organism that lives and feeds off of another organism (animal or human).  The host can become harmed or catch a disease from the parasite.

Examples of a Parasites that can be spread from dogs to humans include hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, Giardia, fleas and ticks.

Table of Contents:

Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog:

The Parasites that Dogs Can Spread to Humans are: Tapeworms, Giardia, Hookworms, Roundworms, Ticks, and Fleas.

Tapeworms:

Tapeworms are white-colored flatworms that are made up of teeny tiny segments.  These worms attach themselves to the walls of their host’s gut using their suckers to eat and grow.

Disease From Tapeworms:

Echinococcosis is a disease caused by the “Echinococcus tapeworm”. This disease is pretty uncommon in the USA.   The Adult Echinococcus tapeworm can cause cysts on the host’s internal organs.  People who work with farm animals are more at risk of this infection (cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats).

How it Spreads From Dog to Human:

The eggs of the tapeworms can be found on the fur of your dog or in their feces.  If you come in contact with your dog’s feces and don’t wash your hands, or if you eat or drink food or water that is contaminated with the infected dog feces, the worms can spread to you.

Dog Symptoms:

Dogs that have tapeworms may have diarrhea, loss of appetite or eat more than usual, shedding their coat more than usual, and more of a ‘grumpy behavior’ than normal.

Symptoms in Humans:

Humans who are infected with the tapeworm may not have any symptoms of having the worms or the Echinococcosis disease for years. Depending on where the Echinococcosis cyst is located, the symptoms may not show up that quickly. The cyst will eventually start to press on the organs or will rupture. The liver and lungs are the organs most likely affected by the Echinococcosis disease.

Giardia:

Giardia is a parasite that infects the intestines of a human or an animal.

How it Spreads From Dog to Human:

It is passed through your dog’s saliva (kisses) and their infected 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 Dog to Human.

Human and Dog Symptoms Include:

Watery diarrhea or greasy stool, painful abdominal cramps, dehydration, and gas.

Hookworms:

Hookworms live in the intestines of their Animal or Human hosts.  They use their hook-like mouths to feed on their host’s blood.  The hookworm’s eggs can be found in the digestive tract and then passed through the host’s feces.

Dogs pick up these nasty buggers when they ingest the larvae by drinking contaminated water, licking their paws, or eating contaminated dirt or animal feces.  The hookworm larva can even dig into your dog’s skin just by laying in the dirt that is contaminated by the worm.

How it Spreads From Dog to Human:

So, the adult hookworms can’t infect humans.  You can get hookworms (larva, eggs) from your dog’s saliva (dog kisses) or infected feces.  But the larva or eggs in a dog’s feces can be spread to humans through contact with infected dirt, walking barefoot on sand at the beach, or even working in your garden.  These worms will tunnel into your skin!

Hookworm larvae can damage your internal organs and cause blindness.  Always wash your hands and body to help prevent the infection of hookworms.

Dog Symptoms:

Pale gums (light pink or white), weakness, itchy paws, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and even death.

Symptoms in Humans:

Abdominal cramping and pain, nausea, high fever, blood in the stool, itchy rash, and loss of appetite.

Roundworms:

The roundworm parasite is white or light brownish in color, can grow to be a few inches long, and they live inside an animal’s or human’s intestines.

How Dogs Spread to Humans:

The roundworms eggs are found in a dog’s feces and their saliva (dog kisses).  If you come in contact with your dog’s poo or contaminated soil or surface, and then eat or drink, you can become infected.

Most new puppies are infected with roundworms before they are born or through their mother’s milk.  My puppy, Eko, was infected with roundworms from his mother when he was born.  We had him dewormed at the appropriate age to get rid of them, and he is now fine.

Roundworm Diseases:

Roundworms can cause Ocular Toxocariasis and Visceral Toxocariasis.

Symptoms in Dogs:

Puppies who have roundworm have a bloated belly and a dull fur coat. Adult dogs who are infected may have a cough or diarrhea.  Roundworms are pretty serious and need to be dealt with ASAP.  If a puppy has a heavy amount of worms in their system, they will die.

Symptoms in Humans:

Ocular toxocariasis diease: the larvae will work their way to the eyes, causing blindness or eye inflammation.

Visceral toxocariasis disease: The roundworm larva will affect the body organs (liver, lungs, and nervous system).  Symptoms may include stomach pain or cramping, coughing, fatigue, or fever.

5 Nasty Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog

Ticks:

Ticks are ectoparasites, which means they live off of the blood of other organisms (animals, people, birds, reptiles, and amphibians).  Adult ticks have eight legs, a round-shaped body, and are usually 3 to 5 mm in length.  They can be brown, black, or tan in color.  There are 200 known Tick species located in the United States alone.

When a Tick feeds off of an animal, it’s bite can contains germs or a disease and is then spread to the host.  Ticks can be found in forests, meadows, parks, and gardens.  They can attach to you and your dog when you brush up against them. Dogs can pick up ticks while walking through tall grass or crawling under shrubs.

TICK FACT #2: A female tick can lay between three to seven thousand eggs in one sitting.

How Dogs Spread to Humans: So, Dogs can spread the actual ‘tick’ from their body to our body just by rubbing up against them, sleeping with them, or cuddling.  The tick can crawl from one host to another too easily.  The dog can’t spread the actual disease to you.  The tick borne diseases are only spread to a person through an infected tick bite.

Diseases From Ticks:

Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever (aka Tick Fever)
St. Louis Encephalitis
Tick Paralysis
Tularemia
Cytauxzoonosis
Lyme disease: (aka Canine Borreliosis)
Canine Ehrlichiosis
Hepatozoonosis
Anaplasmosis
Babesiosis

Symptoms in Dogs:

Depending on the tick borne disease, symptoms may vary.  But symptoms of having a Tick attached to a dog include redness, intense itching, swelling, weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, vomiting, and even paralysis (with the ‘tick paralysis’ disease).

Symptoms in Humans:

Just like dogs, depending on the disease that was passed from the tick, the symptoms in humans can vary. Some diseases can be deadly.  If you know you were bitten by a tick, visit a doctor ASAP.

We have some excellent tips on how to remove ticks and best tick prevention to help reduce the risk of tick borne diseases.

Fleas:

Fleas are parasites that live off of their hosts blood (animals and humans), similar to the tick, except fleas can jump.
Did you know that if your dog consumes a flea (from licking themselves), they can get the flea tapeworm?  EWW!

How Dogs Spread to Humans: Dogs can spread the actual fleas from their body to our body just by rubbing up against them or sleeping with them.  They can infest your bed and your furniture!  The dog can’t spread the actual diseases from a flea to you.  The flea diseases are only spread to a person through infected bites.

Diseases Fleas Can Carry:

Typhus, Plague, Cat Scratch Disease, and Tapeworms

Symptoms in Dogs:

Fleas:  Itchy, sore skin, small raised red bites or bumps, hives, rash near bite site.

Symptoms of Flea Bites in Humans:

Itchy Red Spots, Hives, Rash, and Swelling.

Routinely use a flea preventative on your dog, it really can help prevent an infestation on your dog and your home.  Here is a Helpful Youtube Video to help you inspect your home for fleas.

5 Nasty Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog

Most common questions about Canine Diseases that can affect You.

Can I Catch Diarrhea From My Dog?

No, luckily, you can’t catch Diarrhea from your dog.  Humans who have this illness were most likely in contact with contaminated feces from someone else.

Can Sleeping with Dogs Make You Sick?

Yes!  If your dog sleeps in bed with you, it is possible for you to get sick. It is recommend that people avoid sharing their bed with their dog.

Diseases: There have been multiple reports of humans getting bacterial infections, ulcers, or even blood infections being linked to sharing a bed with their dogs.  Think about it, many dogs love to eat wild animal feces and roll in poo outside!

MRSA infections can also be spread from dogs (through sharing a bed or being licked).

Parasites: Did you know that you can come in contact with worm eggs (roundworms, hookworms) just by petting your dog’s fur?  Fleas and Ticks can easily be spread from your dog to you and your family when sharing a bed.

Be prepared and arm yourself with tick removers and always use flea and tick prevention on your dog to avoid this issue.

Look, I get it!  Many of us enjoy cuddling with our dogs at night.  It is good to make yourselves aware of the possible infections you can catch from your dog and to be more cautious.  The people that are mostly at risk of catching an illness or infection are young children and people with weak immune systems.

Can You Get Sick From Your Dog Licking You?

My kids and I love to give and get lots of kisses from our puppy.  Who doesn’t?  It is a way they express love for us.  Receiving a very wet face is just part of it.  Unfortunately, we can get very sick from our puppy’s lick.  It’s not very common, but it really can happen.  Younger children and people with a weaker immune system are more at risk of getting sick from their dog.

Can You Get Worms From Your Dog?

Yes, If you allow your dog to lick your face, there is a risk of getting a parasite.  Hookworms, Roundworms, and the Giardia parasite can all be spread from dog to human through licking!

You can also get several bacterial infections if you allow your dog to lick your face or damaged skin.  If you have an open wound that your dog licks, always wash the infected area immediately with soap and water.

How Do I Know If I Got Worms From My Dog?

Ok, this can get pretty gross, so Gross Alert!  If You have worms, you can usually see the worms or eggs in your feces when you go to the bathroom.   Not all worms are visible though, which stinks.
Symptoms in Humans: itching in the private areas, weight loss, stomach pain, and nausea.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Worms?

Symptoms in Dogs: Bloated stomach, fatigue, and increased appetite or weight loss.  Visible worms in feces or vomit.  If your dog is constantly scooting his rear on the floor, he may be irritated by worms.

If you believe your dog has worms, make a quick trip to the vet.  Your dog can get the proper treatment that will get rid of these worms.

When you adopt a new puppy, ALWAYS make sure they have been wormed!  Most puppies are born with worms, and responsible breeders and shelters will get them wormed at the appropriate age.  Without being wormed, your new puppy could spread the worms to you and your family.

5 Nasty Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog

How to Protect Your Family:

  • 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.

  • Shoes:  Leave your shoes at the door, they are full of germs!  You can pick up so many gross things outside in the grass and mud, or on the floor of a public store (especially a pet store).  If you walk through public areas or parks where other dogs or wild animals dropped infected waste, you don’t want to spread that all over your house.

  • Kisses: Don’t let your dog lick your face, it is 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.

  • Waste: Clean up your dog’s waste from the yard at least a couple times per week.

  • Sandbox: If you have kids, cover your child’s sandbox so animals don’t use it as a litter box.

How to Protect Your Dog:

  • 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.

  • Vet Care:  Get your pup examined yearly, have a fecal float done to check for parasites, and keep your dog’s vaccines up to date.

  • Flea / Tick Prevention:  Routinely treat your dog with flea and tick preventative either from your vet or the pet store.

  • 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.

Conclusion:

So, what is the take away from all of this?  Don’t get a dog? To get rid of your current dog?  Absolutely not!  The benefits of having a dog in your life definitely outweighs the risks.  We want to help keep you informed and to educate you on how to prevent the spread of parasites and illness between you and your dog.

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 sick.  Extra precaution should be taken with anyone who has an immune disorder.

Read Next: Learn more about the Diseases Humans Can Give to Dogs.

References:

I give credit to the following references.  Their information helped me populate this post.

Nasty Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog
Nasty Parasites YOU Can Get From Your Dog