Following the recent revelation that sleeping with your pet dog can result in you contracting lots of exotic and interesting diseases, we at Dream Dogs thought that we would take a closer look at what risks you expose yourself to by not handling your pet in a hygienic manner.
Dogs can harbour over a dozen forms of diseases that can be transmitted to humans (or zoonotic diseases, if you want to get technical). There’s no doubt that there are health benefits granted by dog ownership, such as lower blood pressure, but we still should be vigilant when handling our canine friends.
Common zoonotic diseases include Campylobacter, which can cause gastrointestinal problems and, in severe cases, blindness. It can be contracted by not thoroughly washing your hands when handling dog mess, and is another good reason (as if you needed another one) to do your duty and get scooping after a pooping. Ringworm is also commonplace; a fungus as opposed to an actual worm, it manifests in the form of a skin infection, and can be transmitted through sharing things like towels or hairbrushes.
Ticks and fleas manage to spread some of the nastier zoonotic diseases. Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are deadly and relatively common, and can also be spread to dogs from a human host.
There is also a risk from intestinal parasites. Tapeworms can be spread if a person accidentally ingests a flea carrying their eggs, and Hookworm and Roundworm can be caught by walking barefoot in an area that is littered with dog faeces.
Amongst the rarest diseases to catch are Salmonella and Giardia. Rabies is thankfully rare in the UK thanks to our strict quarantine laws, but is fairly common in many non-industrialised countries.
Whilst these diseases are the stuff of nightmares, it’s relatively easy to make sure that you don’t catch them. It’s vital that you wash your hands after coming into contact with dog faeces and saliva, and you can help deter fleas by regularly washing your pet’s dog bed or fluffy dog toys. One of the best things to do, however, is to make sure that your dog has a good diet and gets plenty of exercise; as with humans these have been shown to boost the immune system.