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Most Common Zoonotic Diseases of Dogs

You may wonder after knowing that your dog can transmit diseases to you. Yes, that’s true! Dogs act as a major reservoir for zoonotic diseases. They can transmit several bacterial and viral infections to humans. In this article, we will dig out the most common zoonotic diseases of dogs. Let’s go….

What is a Zoonotic Disease?

Zoonotic disease may be defined as a disease transmitted from animal to human or vice versa. Dogs are considered as one of the closest companions of humans. Almost 60% of the household in the USA owns a dog. But this population of dogs can transmit many parasitic and zoonotic pathogens. The common diseases associated with dogs include Rabies, Salmonellosis, Ringworm, Brucellosis, Leptospirosis, Campylobacteriosis, Tularemia, Yersenia, Giardiasis, etc 1.

The transmission of zoonotic diseases mainly occurs via direct contact, ingestion, inhalation, or indirect contact with vectors and contaminated objects. You can easily protect yourselves from most of the diseases by adopting some preventive measures. Regular vaccination is essential to prevent diseases like rabies. Always handle your dog gently and safely to avoid bites and scratches. Although, keeping your dog in a clean area will help you to avoid some unnecessary situations 2.

Most Common Zoonotic Disease Transmitted by a Dog

  1. Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral infection that can transmit via bites, scratches, and mucous membrane exposure from an infected animal. Your dog can become infected due to contact with infected wildlife such as bats, foxes, etc. Infected animals will exhibit several neurological symptoms like aggressiveness, incoordination, unusual behavior, etc. Vaccination is the only way to protect your dog as well as yourself from this deadliest disease. Unfortunately, if any suspected animal bites or scratches you or your dog, please take post-exposure rabies prophylaxis immediately from a medical professional.


Zoonotic 4

  1. Dermatophytosis

Dermatophytosis is a fungal infection commonly known as “ringworm”, caused by the fungus Microsporum canis. This affects both animals and people. Transmission of ringworm occurs via direct skin contact with an infected dog. The associated symptoms include circular areas of hair loss with redness, swelling, and inflamed skin. Humans with compromised immune status are at higher risk of ringworm infection. In humans, it’s called “athlete’s foot”. If you or your family members become noticed the symptoms of ringworm in your dog, please go to the vet immediately. Topical antifungal medications are mostly used to treat ringworm.


  1. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection, caused by Leptospira spp. that can be transmitted by contaminated soil, water, urine, or tissue of the infected animals. Dogs can be infected from contact with rodents like mice, rats, etc. Infected animals exhibit a variety of symptoms including fever, non-productive cough, headache, pain, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting.

Human exposure may occur because of direct contact with contaminated environmental sources such as urine or water. This is known as Weil's disease in humans and results in serious liver and kidney disease. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics like doxycycline, ceftriaxone, cefotaxime, penicillin, and amoxicillin to treat leptospirosis.

  1. Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis is a self-limiting disease caused by the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni. This organism typically lives in the gastrointestinal tract of your dog. Dogs and puppies are the major reservoirs of this bacterium.  Humans become infected because of direct contact with an infected dog. Typical symptoms of campylobacteriosis include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Sometimes, bloody diarrhoea may appear with convulsion and seizures. You won’t require any antimicrobial therapy because this disease is self-limiting. Your doctor may suggest taking supportive fluid therapy for the correction of electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.


Most importantly, you need to be aware of the potential zoonotic importance associated with your dog. With any emergency, consult with your medical professional for further advice.


  1. Ghasemzadeh I, Namazi SH. Review of bacterial and viral zoonotic infections transmitted by dogs. Journal of medicine and life. 2015;8(Spec Iss 4):1–5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28316698%0Ahttp://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=PMC5319273

  2. Cherniack EP, Cherniack AR. Assessing the benefits and risks of owning a pet. Cmaj. 2015;187(10):715–716. doi:10.1503/cmaj.150274