A woman gives her dog a kiss.

At this time last year, most people had probably never heard of a “zoonotic disease,” which is one that can be passed from an animal to a human. After losing twelve months and counting to the global pandemic, however, we are all thinking differently about disease prevention and what we can do to keep our families safe.

The team at Clairmont Animal Hospital is here to help you keep your pets happy and healthy and to make it easier to avoid issues with zoonotic diseases that could potentially infect your family.

What Is a Zoonotic Disease?

Just like humans, our furry friends are susceptible to germs, bacteria, fungi, and even parasites that attack the immune system and could cause illness. 

Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are germs that can be passed between animals and humans. These germs might cause different kinds of illnesses in different species, and they can range from extremely mild to serious enough to cause death. 

According to the CDC, roughly 60 percent of known infectious diseases can jump from animals to humans, and about 75 percent of new infectious diseases are considered zoonotic. Before you get too scared to come into contact with your beloved dog or cat, there are plenty of ways you can minimize your exposure to these illnesses.

How Do They Spread?

One of the most important ways to bypass zoonoses is to understand how diseases can spread between species. These are some of the most common ways diseases are passed:

  1. Bodily Fluids: If you touch saliva, urine, blood or feces of an infected animal (or human), you are coming into direct contact with the illness and significantly increasing your chances of contracting it.
  2. Secondary Contact: You can be exposed to zoonotic diseases if you come into contact with something an infected animal has touched like water, soil, or pet food.
  3. Blood-Feeding Arthropods: Certain diseases are vector-borne, which means ticks, insects, and fleas can carry them and pass them onto humans or other animals by biting them.
  4. Contaminated Food: Food contaminated with bodily fluids from an infected animal sometimes finds its way into your home and, if consumed by you or your pet, could spread this disease to you.
  5. Contaminated Water: Similarly to food transmission, ingesting contaminated water could cause you or your pets to become infected with a zoonotic disease.

The Most Common Zoonotic Diseases

Since zoonotic diseases are incredibly common in every country, it is important to know about some of the most common ones so you can better equip yourself to keep your family (including the furry members) safe. Some of the prevalent are:

  • Rabies
  • Cat-Scratch Fever
  • Salmonella
  • Lyme Disease
  • West Nile Virus
  • Brucellosis
  • Zoonotic Influenza 

What Can You Do?

Now that you know what zoonotic diseases are and how they can spread, what can you do to prevent them in your home? Staying vigilant with disease prevention will be integral toward keeping your family and your pets healthy. Be sure to do the following to minimize your risk for contracting a zoonotic disease:

  • Stay up to date with vaccinations and preventives to keep your pets (and your family) safe from common diseases and parasites.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap, especially after cleaning up the litter box or backyard.
  • Schedule annual wellness exams at Clairmont Animal Hospital so we can make sure your pets are healthy.
  • Be vigilant with pest control to minimize your pet’s exposure to rodents and insects that could potentially be carrying a transmittable disease.
  • Avoid feeding your animals raw meat.

Our team is happy to answer any questions you have about keeping your pets safe from zoonotic diseases. Give us a call today at (404) 633‑6163 to learn more or to schedule an appointment for a veterinary visit.