I was recently reading a news article about a man who devastatingly lost his arms and legs after contracting a rare bacteria from his dog’s saliva. Just terrible!
This is an extreme and rare outcome but it got me thinking about just how much sharing is too much sharing when it comes to our pets. Lots of us share cuddles, kisses, beds and even food with our pets. Although most of us will never catch anything from them there are a few things that they can “share” with us that are less than ideal. The main potential risks or things you could contract by sharing with your dog or cat include;
Pets can have parasites like fleas and mites that can be easily transmitted to people. Fleas will bite humans causing irritation and slight reactions at the sight with a number of bites possible. Mites can be passed from pets to humans and can cause mange or scabies. They can burrow under the skin causing itching and skin irritation.
Intestinal worms like tapeworm, hookworm and roundworm can be spread from pets to humans.
– Tapeworm eggs or larvae can be inhaled or ingested through by humans most commonly by ingesting an infected flea. Infestation in people can cause a number of gastric symptoms, cysts and intestinal blockages.
– Hookworm larvae can be contracted by humans through contact with contaminated soil. The larvae then burrows through the skin (usually the foot) causing skin irritation where it has burrowed in.
– Roundworms can only be contracted by humans via the eggs being ingested. This occurs through ingesting contaminated soil by eating or not washing hands after contacting the eggs. The eggs then hatch in the intestines where the life cycle is then completed in the human body. Infestations can cause wheezing, coughing, lung damage and blockages within the digestive tract.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes circular skin lesions. It can be contracted from an infected animal through direct contact with the animal, a ringworm sore or from infected bedding or furniture.
Toxoplasmosis can be passed to humans through the faeces of an infected cat. Symptoms include swollen glands, fever, muscle pain, sore throat, rash and it can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births. Pregnant or immune-compromised people should avoid changing cat litter if possible.
Bacterial infections can be passed from dogs and cats to people. This usually happens through a scratch or bite where the bacteria can enter through broken skin. The bacteria passed on is often harmless to the animal. Symptoms in people can range from site inflammation, pain or mild infections to severe cases where the bacteria enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body.
The most common problem caused by pets is owners suffering from allergies to their pets. People can be allergic to allergens found on pet hair, skin and saliva. Allergic reactions can range in severity from minor allergy symptoms like rash, sneezing, watery eyes to severe reactions like asthma, wheezing or hives.
Just keep in mind that animals systems are different to ours. They are designed to cope with different bacteria, infections and parasites to us and they can often handle what we can’t. Keeping your pet in optimal health with regular parasite control and good hygiene practices will reduce the chance of the spread of any nasties or unwanted “sharing”.
If both you and are pet are in good health the chance of contracting anything from them is minimal. So by all means love, cuddle, kiss and share your bed with them but be aware that there is the chance that more sinister things could be shared.