Pets have a positive influence on our daily lives. They provide us with valuable companionship, help us get out and exercise, and can even lower our stress levels.

Dogs are one of the most popular types of pets. In fact, experts estimate that 38 percent of households in the United States have one or more dogs.

Like humans, dogs can catch a variety of illnesses. You may even have wondered if your dog can get sick from you. While dogs can catch some illnesses from people, it doesn’t happen that often.

Keep reading to learn more about the infections that dogs can get from humans, what we can get from them, and how to prevent the spread of these illnesses in your home.

The flu is a respiratory illness that’s caused by a virus. There are many types of flu viruses.

In fact, there are two specific types of flu viruses that can cause the flu, or canine influenza, in dogs. These viruses are different from those that cause the flu in humans. In dogs, they can cause symptoms like cough, runny nose, and lethargy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no cases of canine influenza in humans have been reported. But can dogs get the flu from us?

Research from 2014 and 2015 indicated that human influenza viruses can infect dogs, particularly 2009 H1N1 strains and H3N2 strains. However, while it’s becoming clear that dogs can contract some human influenza viruses, they don’t appear to actually become ill.

There are several bacterial infections that dogs can potentially get from people.


Salmonella bacteria can cause illness in both dogs and humans. Infection can lead to symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and vomiting in both species.

Transmission of Salmonella is fecal-oral. You can potentially pass it to your dog if you have salmonellosis and don’t adequately wash your hands after using the bathroom. In this case, touching your dog’s mouth or face may pass the bacteria to them.


The bacteria Campylobacter jejuni causes this infection in both dogs and humans. Symptoms in dogs can include watery diarrhea, decreased appetite, and fever. Like Salmonella, transmission is fecal-oral.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Humans can carry MRSA on their skin without any symptoms. However, potentially serious skin infections can occur if the bacteria enter through a break in the skin.

Dogs can potentially get MRSA from humans who have the bacteria on their skin. In dogs, MRSA can cause infections of the skin, respiratory tract, and urinary tract.


Tuberculosis is a respiratory illness caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In humans, symptoms of an active infection can include coughing, fever, and shortness of breath.

Transmission of tuberculosis from humans to dogs has been reported. In dogs, tuberculosis causes symptoms like cough, weight loss, and vomiting.

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are large airways in your lungs. A person with bronchitis experiences a wet cough, fatigue, and wheezing.

In people, viral infections like the common cold or the flu most commonly cause bronchitis. However, these human infections don’t cause bronchitis in dogs.

Dogs can still get bronchitis due to an infection even if they didn’t get it from you. Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough, leads to symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and fatigue.

Kennel cough can occur from the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica as well as a variety of canine-specific viruses. Dogs can pass the infection to each other through direct contact as well as aerosols from coughing and sneezing.

Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that appear on or around your lips. In humans, a virus called herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes cold sores. There are two types of HSV. HSV-1 mainly causes cold sores, although sometimes HSV-2 can cause them as well.

You can’t transmit HSV-1 or HSV-2 to your dog.

However, one type of herpesvirus is important in dogs. Canine herpesvirus (CHV) can cause genital lesions and mild respiratory symptoms in adult dogs, and can be serious or potentially fatal in puppies. Humans can’t get CHV.

In addition to the illnesses mentioned above, you can also potentially pass the following infections to your dog.


COVID-19 is the illness that’s caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In humans, COVID-19 can cause symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While most cases are mild, some can be severe and require hospitalization.

So far, reports have found that a small number of dogs have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. It’s believed that these infections were acquired from close contact with an owner who had contracted the virus.

According to the CDC, an animal that gets the virus may not have any symptoms, or may only have mild symptoms. Currently, the risk of a pet spreading the infection to other people is believed to be low.


Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, or nails. While ringworm is more typically spread from animals to people, you can also potentially pass it to your dog.

Ringworm is spread through contact with the fungus, either by touching the infected area or by coming into contact with a contaminated surface. Dogs that have ringworm can have bald, scaly patches that often appear on their ears, face, or tail.


Older research has found antibodies to the mumps virus in dogs, indicating that the virus can infect them. However, it doesn’t appear as if they become ill.

Mumps cases have declined by 99 percent in the United States due to vaccination. Because of this, it’s very unlikely that you’d pass it to your dog.

There are many illnesses you can get from your dog.

Bacterial diseases

Some examples of bacterial diseases that can be passed from dogs to people include:

  • Brucellosis. Brucellosis typically causes a flu-like sickness in humans. Although rare, it can be spread through contact with infected animals, including dogs.
  • Campylobacteriosis. This illness causes digestive symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and cramps. It can be spread through contact with the feces of an infected dog.
  • Capnocytophaga. In rare cases, these bacteria can spread to humans through a bite or scratch. Symptoms can include blisters, pain, and swelling in the affected area.
  • Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of an infected dog. It can cause symptoms like high fever, aches and pains, and digestive discomfort.
  • MRSA. You can get MRSA via direct contact with a dog that’s carrying the bacteria. If the bacteria enter a break in the skin, it can lead to a skin infection.
  • Salmonellosis. Salmonellosis causes symptoms like fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. It can be spread to humans through contact with an infected dog or its feces.

Viral diseases

Rabies can be spread through a bite or scratch from an infected dog and causes a variety of serious neurological symptoms. By the time these symptoms appear, it’s often too late for treatment.

Rabies is rare in the United States due to vaccination.

Fungal diseases

Ringworm is a fungal disease you can get through contact with an animal that has the infection. In people, it often causes a ring-shaped rash that’s itchy and scaly.

Parasitic diseases

There are several parasitic diseases that can be transmitted from dogs to humans. Many of them are present in the feces of an infected dog. They include:

  • Cryptosporidiosis. Cryptosporidiosis is spread through ingesting feces from an infected dog. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, cramping, and nausea or vomiting
  • Echinococcosis. This infection is rare and is spread through contaminated feces. It can potentially cause the development of cysts within the body.
  • Giardiasis. Giardiasis causes gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. You can get it from the feces of an infected dog.
  • Hookworm. You can get hookworm through skin contact with soil that’s been contaminated with dog feces. Dog hookworms can’t survive in the body for long periods, but they can cause a condition called cutaneous larva migrans.
  • Roundworm. You can get roundworm by swallowing eggs that are found in the feces of an infected dog. Roundworm can affect the eyes or other organs of the body.
  • Tapeworm. This parasitic infection can be spread through ingesting infected fleas. Tapeworms infect the digestive tract but rarely cause symptoms in people.

There are several diseases you can get from dog feces. These include:

  • campylobacteriosis
  • cryptosporidiosis
  • echinococcosis
  • giardiasis
  • hookworm
  • roundworm
  • salmonellosis

Additionally, leptospirosis is a bacterial infection you can get from contact with the urine of an infected dog.

Some illnesses can be passed through direct contact with an infected dog or contact with a contaminated surface.

Although unlikely, doing things like sleeping in the same bed with your dog could increase your risk for these infections:

  • brucellosis
  • MRSA
  • ringworm

There are several strategies you can use to avoid passing illnesses back and forth with your pet:

  • Pick up the poo. Always pick up after your dog. Dispose of dog feces in a sealed bag, if possible.
  • Wash your hands. Try to wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling a dog or their feces, food bowls, or toys.
  • Limit contact if you’re sick. If you’re currently ill with something you can pass to your dog, try to limit close contact with them until you’ve recovered.
  • See the veterinarian regularly. Regular checkups with your dog’s veterinarian can help identify health problems, including parasites or infectious diseases.
  • Vaccinate. Keeping both yourself and your dog up to date on vaccinations can help prevent the spread of illness. If you’re unsure of what vaccinations your dog needs, speak with their veterinarian.
  • Prevent bites and scratches. You can help do this by asking before petting another person’s dog, avoiding interactions with a dog that seems scared or angry, and not approaching unfamiliar dogs.

There are some illnesses you can potentially pass to your dog, causing them to become ill. These include things like salmonellosis, MRSA, and ringworm.

Research indicates that dogs can sometimes contract human flu viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and mumps. However, they often don’t appear to become ill due to these infections.

There are many illnesses you can get from your dog. These are often spread through close contact, or contaminated feces or urine.

There are things you can do to help prevent spreading illnesses between yourself and your dog. These include things like frequent handwashing, seeing your dog’s veterinarian regularly, and limiting close contact if you’re ill.

If your veterinarian has diagnosed your dog with one of the illnesses listed above and you feel you may have been exposed, reach out to your own doctor to determine if you need to schedule an examination.