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As it turns out there are plenty of illnesses you can transfer to your pet! I’ve frantically researched and this is what you need to know.

illnesses you can transfer to your pet feature image. Man facing away from camera hugging a golden retriever with landscape in the background

In the search for cat and puppy care, I was researching things to avoid for dogs and came across the fact there is a thing called a ‘zoonosis’.

A zoonosis is a disease or illness that can be passed from humans to animals (and back again.)

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we’ve only dealt with the dreaded flea before which is a ‘sharing is caring’ situation I prefer to avoid.

However, there are actual illnesses that can be transferred from humans to animals!

So, I thought I would share a closer look at 5 of what I consider to be the worst, (plus I’ve listed some more down the bottom) that I found in my research. Empowered by this information, hopefully, you’ll be able to take extra precautions when you’re sick. 

Cold & Flu

Flu is something that commonly affects birds (ever heard of bird flu? Turns out that’s the H5N1 strain) but viral infections, such as the common cold are an illness you can transfer to your pet too. They are easy to spread between humans, particularly during winter, but some strains have also proven fatal for cats. The H1N1 strain, also known as swine flu, has caused respiratory problems and even death in cats, ferrets and dogs in the past, with an owner accidentally, and fatally, passing it on to her cat back in 2009. 

One of the other concerns is the flu or cold mutating and then vulnerable humans getting a different form!

So, If you begin showing the signs of cold or flu, it’s best to keep away from your pet. This helps to prevent an opportunity for the virus to spread, and it stops fur and other allergens from exacerbating your symptoms too.


This classic had to be on the list, and I knew about this one before from the vet! Ringworm, unlike tapeworm etc is a fungal skin condition and is one of the rare infections that can actually pass between humans and their pets in both directions. It’s transmitted by both direct and indirect contact; towels, bedding, and other soft furnishings can act as conduits.

The symptoms of ringworm, according to the NHS website are predominantly a rash that looks like a ring, but it can develop in other areas. Check out the website here to check your symptoms if you’re worried.

If you notice symptoms of ringworm in yourself, a family member, or your pets, make sure to seek treatment as soon as possible, restrict contact, and isolate materials used by the infected party.

Bovine Tuberculosis

The life-threatening lung infection Bovine Tuberculosis is often caused by the bacteria M. bovis, which originates in cows. Any mammal, including humans and pets, can contract M. bovis from living cows and this is more likely from drinking unpasteurized or raw milk. However, it’s also thought that the virus can pass directly from humans to pets.

Those suffering from active tuberculosis will be taking precautions around friends and family; but, it’s also important to ensure that pets are kept away too.


This one was probably the most surprising to me, given the type of food dogs and cats consume.

Salmonella is one of the bacteria responsible for cases of food poisoning in humans and there are over 2,000 types. Like ringworm, it can be passed between humans and animals in both directions (zoonotic), and affects both dogs and cats quite severely! 

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is a serious infection caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The condition can present as a skin infection, pneumonia, septicaemia, or a range of other illnesses. It has been found in a wide array of animal species and if left untreated can be a recurring nightmare (apparently, luckily we don’t have MRSA). 

Avoiding cross-contamination is a must if you, a family member or pet is found with MRSA. Proper heigene can limit the spread!

Other illnesses you can transfer to your pet include:

  • Tapeworm
  • Roundworm
  • Lyme Disease
  • Hookworm
  • Rabies
  • Anthrax
  • E. coli

Hopefully, this information will allow you to keep yourself, furbabies and real babies, sickness-free or avoid sharing the nasties.

For more cat care, visit Cat Corner here