Can I get sick from my pet?

Can I get sick from my pet?

01/02/2020

Can I get sick from my pet?

It’s possible to get sick from your cat or dog, but don’t panic: it’s unlikely this will happen if you practice safe hygiene and common sense. It’s important to be especially mindful of hygiene if you have a weakened immune system, are very young, older or pregnant.

Can my pet catch Coronavirus?

It has been recently reported that pets can catch the virus, though the World Health Organisation says there is no evidence for this. The risk is low as there are very few cases of the disease in Australia at present, but it’s still important to practice proper hygiene to minimise the risk of any infection.

This information was up to date on the 2nd February 2020 - we recommend keeping an eye on the Australian Government Department of Health for updates.

What diseases could I catch from my pet?

Zoonotic diseases (or zoonosis) are diseases that humans can catch from animals. In Australia, there are a few main types to be aware of. Most of these can make us humans sick but have little to no impact on their animal carriers. 

1. Worms: hookworm, tapeworm and roundworm are common intestinal parasites that can be avoided if you regularly worm your pet. Contraction can happen from coming into contact with pet faeces directly or through handling contaminated soil or sand.

2. Vomiting or diarrhoea: it is possible to catch a stomach bug if your pet eats raw meat. Illness such as salmonella and giardia can be caught from picking up dog poop or cleaning your cat’s litter tray and not washing your hands after.

3. Staphylococcus: this nasty bacteria live on a pet’s fur or snout without harming your pet, but can lead to various ailments in humans such as infected wounds, meningitis and even pneumonia. 

4. Toxoplasma gondii: this parasite can be picked up from cleaning up cat litter, and most humans experience no symptoms. Problems can occur when hosts have weakened immune systems or when a woman is infected for the first time during pregnancy. 

5. Bartonellosis: known as ‘cat scratch fever’, is caused by a bacterium comes from flea faeces, which can jump to humans if they get scratched, bitten or have a wound licked by a cat. Symptoms can include headache, fever, swollen lymph nodes and fatigue.

How can I avoid getting sick from my pet?

• Wash your hands after picking up dog poo, cleaning your cat’s litter tray, patting your pet and before eating.

• Try not to nuzzle or kiss your pet on the mouth. Don't allow them to lick you around your mouth or any cuts/abrasions.

• Always pick up after your pooch, even in your own garden.

• Wash your pet’s bedding and bowls regularly.

• De-flea, worm and groom your pet regularly.

• Change your cat’s litter often, scoop it out every day and wash out their entire litter tray with mild detergent regularly.

• Teach children to wash their hands and not put their hands in their mouths after playing in the garden or around pets.

• Educate yourself and your kids about pet behaviour and body language to avoid being scratched or bitten.

• Don’t mix animal or human food utensils or preparation areas. 

• Prevent your pet from eating faeces.

Visit the vet if you suspect your pet is sick.