5 Disgusting Diseases You Can Catch From Your Pet | Men's Health Magazine Australia

5 Disgusting Diseases You Can Catch From Your Pet

Your dog licks your face and your cat sleeps in your bed. While you probably never gave it much thought, your pets can make you sick, according to a new review from The Ohio State University. 

Skeptical? Talk to the Colorado man who caught the plague – yes, the disease that’s infamous for wiping out millions of people during the Middle Ages – from his pit bull terrier, according to a new Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report. (The human survived. His poor pup wasn’t so lucky.)

No one knows exactly how common it is for animals to infect people because it’s hard to track an illness to its source, says Dr Jason Stull, author of the OSU study. But most pet owners don’t need to panic. Especially about the plague – that case is the first and only one ever reported.

“Overall, the risks are relatively small for the average person,” Stull says.

While rare, the researchers combed through more than 500 studies to find out what diseases you can most readily catch from your dog or cat. The following 5 are more common than rabies. Read on to see what they are.

Stomach Bug 

Your unexplained upset stomach could be all Fido’s fault. A germ called Campylobacter jejuni causes diarrhea, vomiting, and fever—and it can be spread via cat and dog poop.

“Bacteria and organisms in feces can get on our hands and, through day-to-day living, can inadvertently get in our mouths,” says Stull. 

Sure, you’re probably not smearing your hands in poop, but your dog might rub his butt on your couch, which you touch before eating a sandwich. So wash your hands often, says Stull – especially before you eat. 

Cat Scratch Fever

If your cat sinks her claws into you, you could become infected with Bartonella, a bacterium that causes fever and swollen lymph nodes. 

The germs live in flea poop, which can get on your cat’s claws when they scratch themselves. Make sure your cat is up to date on her flea meds, Stull says. 


Ringworm is an infection caused by fungus (not worms) that manifests as small, round, itchy patches on your skin. 

Cats are the most common culprits, but dogs can also carry ringworm. You can contract it if you touch an infected pet or an object he or she has come in contact with. 

The best way to reduce your risk: Take your pet to the vet if he or she shows signs of ringworm like lesions on the face or paws or a spreading bald patch with a red ring around the outside, Stull says. 

More From