Although dogs can pass germs to people, you are not likely to get sick from touching or owning dogs. To best protect yourself from getting sick, thoroughly wash your hands with running water and soap after contact with dogs, dog saliva, or dog feces.
Dogs can carry a variety of germs that can make people sick. Some of these germs are common and some are rare. For example, puppies may pass the bacterium Campylobacter in their feces. This germ can cause diarrhea in people. Puppies and some adult dogs often carry a variety of parasites that can cause rashes or illness in people.
Less often, dogs in urban or rural areas can carry the bacterium Leptospira (lep-TO-spy-ruh). This germ causes the disease leptospirosis (lep-to-spi-roh-sis) in people and animals. Dogs can also carry rabies, a deadly viral disease. Rabies from dogs is rare in the United States.
Some people are more likely than others to get diseases from dogs. A person's age and health status may affect his or her immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. People who are more likely to get diseases from dogs include infants, children younger than 5 years old, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and people being treated for cancer. Special advice is available for people who are at greater risk than others of getting diseases from animals.
Many groups support the health benefits of pets. These groups provide a lot of information on how pets can help people be healthy to people in many ways. They make wonderful companions.
Below, you can learn more about dog-related diseases.
Brucella canis Infection (brucellosis): A bacterial disease rarely associated with dogs.
Campylobacter Infection (campylobacteriosis): A bacterial disease associated with dogs, cats, and farm animals.
Cryptosporidium Infection (cryptosporidiosis): A parasitic disease associated with dogs, especially puppies, cats, and farm animals.
Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm): A parasitic disease associated with dogs, cats and fleas.
Giardia Infection (giardiasis): A parasitic disease associated with various animals, including dogs and their environment (including water).
Hookworm Infection: A parasitic disease associated with dogs and cats and their environment.
Leishmania Infection (leishmaniasis): A parasitic disease associated with dogs and sand flies outside the United States.
Leptospira Infection (leptospirosis): A bacterial disease associated with wild and domestic animals, including dogs.
Lyme Disease: A bacterial disease that can affect dogs and ticks.
Q Fever (Coxiella burnetii): A bacterial disease occasionally associated with dogs.
Rabies: A viral disease associated with various animals, including dogs.
Ringworm: A fungal disease associated with dogs.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A bacterial disease associated with dogs and ticks.
Roundworm: See Toxocara infection.
Salmonella Infection (salmonellosis): A bacterial disease associated with various animals including dogs.
Tapeworm (flea tapeworm): See Dipylidium Infection.
Toxocara Infection (toxocariasis, roundworm): A parasitic disease associated with dogs and cats and their environment.