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As a dog owner, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in wondering if it’s possible to pass an illness on to my dog. There have been times when I have felt under the weather and have been adamant that my dog Elvis is showing signs and symptoms of being unwell too.

I decided to research if in fact dogs can catch certain illnesses from their owners and vice versa.

For many dog owners, it’s not just love and affection we share with our dogs. We also share our bed, couch and sometimes even meals. Unfortunately, this means we could also be sharing germs and infection.

Animals can pass a range of diseases to humans in a process called zoonosis. The lesser studied process of passing disease from humans to animals is called reverse zoonosis.

While it’s less common to make your dog sick than the other way around, there are some diseases you can give your dog.


While you may associate salmonella with food poisoning, it can also be passed between infected humans and animals. Whilst dogs are more resistant to the infection, they do suffer the same symptoms as humans. These symptoms can include nausea, fever, cramps and more.


Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect both humans and animals. The infection is not caused by a worm but finds its name from the round rash that appears on human skin, and the round patch of hair loss on animal’s skin. Ringworm can be contracted through direct contact with contaminated objects or individuals. If you or your dog have been diagnosed with ringworm, keep the affected area of skin covered to avoid transmitting the condition to each other.


Mumps is a highly contagious viral disease. While less common since the introduction of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the UK, the disease is still picked up by lots of children. Dogs can become sick after exposure to the mumps virus from an infected person. Symptoms in dogs include lack of appetite and fever. Most dogs recover from a mumps infection in five to ten days, and although there is no specific cure for the disease, your vet may recommend treatment to keep your dog comfortable during recovery.


This is an infection spread via drinking water. This can be picked up by you or your dog from lakes, streams and wells. The main symptom is diarrhoea. The infection can spread between humans, cats and dogs.


This is caused by a bacterium that has developed resistance to several types of antibiotics. Humans and animals with a compromised immune system are more likely to pick up the virus which can cause skin infections and in extreme cases, pneumonia and sepsis.

Common cold

Finally, some good news. The likelihood of a human passing on the common cold or flu to a dog is extremely low. Research shows that the majority of viruses with cold-like symptoms are species-specific. If you or your pooch are feeling under the weather, you can safely cuddle up together. Personally, I think that there is no better cure for the common cold than curling up on your sofa with your fur-baby, a blanket and a Disney movie.

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