Dog resting at home possibly unwell Dog resting at home possibly unwell

Stay Alert! There Could be Virus Transmission Between You and Your Dog

You love pets. Right? Then, obviously, you spend enough time with them. You love taking care of them, cleaning, feeding, and cuddling. I am saying this because I also have two pets and I love them. Being in my dogs’ company gives me immense pleasure and it’s my favorite pastime. However, it might sound surprising but the truth is that dogs and humans transmit viruses to each other. And it’s not safe for any of them.

Although diseases in both may be caused due to many other reasons also. But, we must know how to stay protected. So, let’s find out how both get infected by each other.

So, you can not safely conclude that human contact is the causal agent and you should visit a veterinarian for a better understanding.

Now let us understand how dogs get diseases from humans.

Norovirus in Humans and Dogs

Initially, it was believed that the type of Norovirus that affects humans is not the same as dogs, as this form can not be transmitted. However, after many studies, it actually showed otherwise. Studies were conducted in Finland and Thailand which showed conclusive results.

In one case dogs were kept in homes with people who were infected with Norovirus, and in the second case, a pregnant dog was exposed to a household with infected humans. Turned out, that in both cases the Norovirus had been transmitted to the dogs, although it was not 100% transmission.

Can We Also Get Sick from Dogs?

Illnesses that can pass between humans and animals are called zoonotic diseases. These can spread from pet animals like cats and dogs but also from wild animals or farm animals.

Our household pets can be responsible for infecting us with stomach bugs, diarrhea, minor skin infections, bacterial infections, and sometimes serious health issues. This is because of the close contact that we maintain with them. Norovirus is among the top that can be transmitted across the species. I’ll tell you how we can get illnesses from dogs –

  • Contaminated food, treats, water bowls, or other surfaces.
  • Our eyes or mouth come in contact with your dog’s poop.
  • If the dog’s tongue is carrying some infection and it licks us.
  • If we shared the same bed with our dog.
  • If our dog bites or scratches us, such that it breaks the skin.

So, the risk is equal for both.

The Icy Whiz team talked to Dr. Kathryn Dench (MA VetMB), Chief Scientific Advisor at Paw Origins, about the risk of virus transmission between humans and dogs. Here is what she said:

Kathryn Dench
Kathryn Dench

“While the risk of zoonotic virus transmission (from humans to dogs or vice versa) exists, particularly with pathogens like influenza or certain coronaviruses, it remains relatively low in most cases.

However, it’s crucial to take the risk seriously, not only related to viruses we know about but to guard against potential future outbreaks of novel pathogens. I recommend the following to my clients:

  1. Vaccination and Preventive Care: Ensure your dog is up-to-date with core vaccines like rabies and canine distemper. This provides a strong foundation for health.
  2. Hygiene Practices: Maintain good hygiene by washing hands after handling your dog. If you or someone in your household is immunocompromised, you should follow your doctor’s advice on any additional hygiene measures that need to be put in place.
  3. Isolation: If you or your dog exhibit signs of illness, isolate and limit contact until recovery.
  4. Veterinary Consultation: Always consult your vet if your dog shows signs of illness like coughing, diarrhea, or fatigue.

The companionship and joy our pets bring are irreplaceable, and balancing this relationship with responsibility is key. Here are some approaches:

  • Routine Health Checks: Schedule regular vet visits for comprehensive health assessments. Early detection leads to better outcomes.
  • Responsible Socialization: Allow dogs to socialize in controlled environments while avoiding unnecessary exposure to unvaccinated or ill animals.
  • Open Communication with Your Vet: Keep your veterinarian informed about your household’s health changes to adjust care plans accordingly.

These measures can significantly reduce the risk while allowing the special bond between humans and dogs to flourish.”

How do I Know if my Dog has a Stomach Virus?

Yes, this is important to identify your dog’s condition. I suggest you notice if your dog is showing any of the symptoms below:

  • The dog dog is experiencing intermittent periods of vomiting and diarrhea, or very frequent diarrhea.
  • It starts gagging heavily after water or food consumption.
  • If its activity reduces, it feels fatigued and has a reduced appetite.
  • Your dog may be experiencing low-grade fever, bloating, and some abdominal tenderness.

So, How Can You Treat It

If your dog is experiencing symptoms of a stomach virus, do not try to be the doctor yourself. I would always recommend you visit the veterinarian. The primary treatment will be rehydration and restoration of the lost electrolytes from the body and other support treatments like –

  • Oral, intravenous, or subcutaneous fluid administration and if the causal agent is a bacterial infection, antibiotics come to the rescue.
  • After the intestinal obstruction has been cleared, they are given drugs to ease the intestinal activity.
  • Food and water are also withheld during initial treatment processing, and then slowly reintroduced into the diet when the body stabilizes.
  • Bland food and lesser portions are suggested so that digestion is easy and quick.

We interviewed Bricks Coggin, CEO of ABCs Puppy Zs, on this. Here is what he had to say:

Bricks Coggin
Bricks Coggin

“I believe that understanding the risk of virus transmission between humans and dogs is crucial for any responsible pet owner.

In my experience, the interaction between pets and people, especially in a family setting like ours, necessitates a vigilant approach to health and hygiene.

Most notably, while not all viruses can jump between species, those that can, like certain forms of influenza, require particular attention.

To mitigate these risks effectively, I advocate for several key practices:

  • Regular Veterinary Checks: Regular health check-ups for pets are essential. This ensures that any potential health issues are identified and addressed promptly before they can pose a risk to human members of the household.
  • Hygiene Practices: Maintaining good hygiene is essential. This includes regular washing and grooming of pets and immediate clean-up of any waste. It’s equally important for pet owners to wash their hands after handling pets, their food, or waste.
  • Education and Awareness: Owners should be educated about the signs of illness in dogs, such as lethargy, respiratory issues, or changes in behavior. This awareness can help in early detection and isolation if necessary, to prevent potential transmission.

Balancing the joys of pet ownership with health responsibilities is all about creating a safe environment that benefits both pets and their families.

For instance, in our breeding practice, we emphasize the importance of a clean environment and proper socialization of pets, which significantly reduces health risks and enhances the quality of life for both the pets and their owners.

It’s important to continue fostering the bond between pets and their owners while being informed and cautious about health-related issues.

By adhering to these recommended practices, pet owners can enjoy the companionship of their pets while ensuring a safe, healthy environment for everyone involved.”

We Also Need to Prevent Zoonotic Disease Infection from Our Dog

We can reduce the risk of getting infected with zoonotic diseases from our dogs by following some easy measures of good hygiene and cleanliness.

  • Clean the Dog Waste– Once the dog has pooped, we need to clear it in a reasonable time. You can dispose of it in a sealed bag without coming in too much contact.
  • Wash Hands Regularly– Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling your dog’s food, water, and excreta. Even the dog’s toys or other things where his saliva might have reached.
  • Dog’s Kisses– Don’t let your dog kiss you on your face specifically near your mouth, eyes, and nose. However, if the dog becomes insistent and comes into close contact then wash yourself very nicely and disinfect yourself.
  • Vaccination– Ensuring that all the necessary vaccinations are actively applied to both will help. For the dog especially we need to take care of rabies, kennel cough, canine parvovirus, and distemper. So, provide them with proper vaccination.
  • Visit the Vet– Regular checkups will keep us updated on our dog’s health and diseases if any, both chronic and infectious. It will also prevent us from catching it with timely treatment.
  • Scratch and Bites– Try not to approach unfamiliar dogs a lot. Dogs on the streets and parks can be stray with no vaccination or are already infected. If in case you get a scratch or a bite; wash that area and immediately disinfect it and seek medical help.

Aaron Rice, a Professional Dog Trainer, discussed human-dog virus transmission and preventive measures. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Aaron Rice
Aaron Rice

“Balancing the joys of pet ownership with the responsibility of safeguarding both human and canine health is essential for creating a harmonious and healthy environment.

It’s important to ensure your pet receives regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and proper grooming to minimize the risk of transmitting diseases.

Additionally, maintaining a clean living environment and practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands after handling your pet, can help prevent the spread of germs.

Providing your pet with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and mental stimulation can also contribute to their overall well-being.”

Is the Virus the Same in Dogs, Humans, and Other Pets?

As we have seen above Norovirus can be transmitted between humans and dogs, cats are not really susceptible to these. Other viruses like rotavirus however are transferable between species. One big difference however is that when a dog or a cat gets an infection they can get blood in the feces.

However, if you find blood in your feces it is a lot more difficult and a serious situation that requires immediate attention and medical help. The symptoms of the stomach flu in humans/animals are very similar, and some of them are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, appetite loss, dehydration, abdominal pain, and fever.

Here, one thing is clear for sure, dogs can increase our risk of catching some diseases. These are mostly related to ticks, as they carry them on their bodies and we come in contact with our dogs all the time. So, we should maintain appropriate hygiene practices for better safety.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Pragya


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. Your work really inspires me. You have given a very chief information.
    Most of the people does not pay attention on the infection spread by pets.
    As most of the people have dog as their pet so they should maintain their hygiene to avoid the diseases.

  2. This article delves into the intriguing question of whether dogs can catch stomach viruses from humans. The exploration of symptoms and the caution against hastily attributing them to human contact adds depth. The mention of studies from Finland and Thailand provides concrete evidence, emphasizing the importance of veterinary consultation for a comprehensive understanding.

  3. I read about dogs getting sick from humans. It’s interesting how germs can go between us and our pets. I wonder about how to keep our dogs safe. As someone who loves their pet, I want to know more about what the article says we should do to make sure our furry friends stay healthy.

  4. Being a pet owner I always kept no distance with my pet dog. But after reading this article I was surprised to heard that we can as well as my pet can get virus from each other. I want to suggest all my friends who has a friendly pet like me to be careful and take care of our pets very well.

  5. Ensuring the health of our canine companions is paramount, and this insightful read clarified a concerning aspect—dogs can indeed catch viruses from humans. I was particularly fascinated by the revelation about the potential transmission of norovirus from humans to dogs, supported by studies in Finland and Thailand. Despite not being a 100% transmission, the findings show the need for caution in maintaining hygiene to safeguard both human and canine health.

  6. Research from Finland and Thailand are cited, providing empirical evidence and demonstrating the critical importance of veterinarian guidance for a comprehensive understanding. I have never removed myself from my dog as a pet owner. But after reading this article, I was surprised to see that infections may transmit from me to my cat.

  7. This is something strange that dogs catch stomach viruses from human , before reading this article I havent believed it but after reading this article I really feel proud and guilty simultaneously I feel proud about my pets but I feel guilty about the humans that is us because we are viruses to the dog .

  8. I found this article really helpful because it explained in simple terms how dogs can catch stomach viruses from humans. The practical tips, like cleaning up after my dog and regular handwashing, were easy to understand and something I can easily follow. It made me more aware of the risks and gave me clear steps to prevent infections.

  9. One of the reason I don’t keep a dog as a pet is fear of getting diseases from it. It turns out that it is a two-way traffic. According to this blog, I can also contaminate it with diseases such a norovirus. I think that means we can co-exist and I am now debating on owning one.

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