Understanding zoonotic diseases

Written by Dr. Colleen Fisher  | Published on: 9/29/2020

Animal Health Week runs from October 4 to 10, 2020. This year we teamed up with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) to highlight the importance of understanding zoonotic diseases and its impacts on community health and pets.

What is a zoonotic disease?

Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are terms used to describe an infection or disease that can be transmitted from an animal to a human. Although rare in North America, there are over one hundred diseases that can be transmitted from animals, including dogs and cats, to humans.

Can I catch a zoonotic disease from my pet?

Zoonotic diseases may be transmitted from animals to people, but they can be prevented. Cats and dogs are increasingly identified as close family members, and this reality creates the potential for illness transmission between people and their pets.

What are the most common zoonotic diseases of dogs and cats?

  • Rabies
  • Ringworm (multiple fungal species)
  • Roundworms (multiple parasite species)
  • Hookworms (multiple parasite species)
  • Salmonella spp infection
  • Campylobacter spp infection
  • Giardia spp infection
  • Cryptosporidium spp infection

How can I reduce the risk of contracting a zoonotic disease from my dog or cat?

Most potential zoonotic diseases can be avoided by practicing basic hygiene principles such as always washing your hands after being around animals, even if you did not touch them.
  • Schedule regular veterinary wellness checks
  • Bathe and groom your pet regularly
  • Give your pet a broad-spectrum deworming product routinely
  • Use flea and tick control products routinely
  • Pick up and dispose of any feces on your property and when you take your dog for a walk
  • Scoop out droppings and clumps from the litter box at least once a day
  • Wash pet bedding frequently

Can I transmit a disease to my pet?

Reverse or bidirectional zoonoses are diseases that people can transmit to other animals. Veterinarians have seen rare cases of COVID-19 in our pets, although illness in cats and dogs has been mild and of little concern to date. People have also been reported to spread ringworm, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Influenza A (H1N1), and tuberculosis to companion animals.

Talk to your veterinary team for information on zoonotic diseases

Veterinarians have valuable perspectives as knowledge leaders in the fight against zoonotic diseases. Medical expertise combined with understanding the human-animal relationship allows for integrated action strategies whether zoonoses are found in the food chain from farm to table or in the home with companion animals.

Petsecure can help

Petsecure products allow veterinarians to examine, diagnose, and treat pets according to individual needs. Unlike some pet insurance companies, Petsecure covers examination fees and taxes. Petsecure also provides coverage for any zoonotic disease a dog or cat may develop while the animal is insured under a Petsecure policy.

If you are hospitalized and unable to care for your pet, Petsecure plans include $1000 per year for boarding fees to help protect the health of you and your pet. 

Find out more about Petsecure’s wellness plans that include coverage for routine vaccines, parasite control, and routine health testing.