Illustration for article titled How To Avoid Common Pet Diseases From SpreadingPhoto: VP Photo Studio (Shutterstock)

Pets are lucky enough to be cute (usually) because humans will go to all possible efforts to keep them happy, healthy, and comfortable. Sure, this is your favorite chair, but it’s also your dog’s favorite chair, and when she looked you in the eyes and sighed, you gave in and let her have it. Such a thing.

Another part of having a pet is understanding the potential risk of illness because you have ingested something from your dog, cat, or bird. A current article in Real Simple describes some of the most common diseases that pets can have and what you can do to avoid getting sick.

Roundworm and hookworm

Yes, roundworm and hookworm are very common in pets – and that’s exactly why Sally Haddock, DVM, founder of St. Marks Veterinary Hospital in New York, says we must take both conditions seriously to prevent an outbreak in our homes.

In addition to using common sense (like washing hands after touching your pet and not letting your pet lick you in / on / around their mouth) and getting your pet treated as soon as they are diagnosed with roundworm or hookworm, Haddock points out the need to thoroughly sanitize your home to prevent it from spreading. “You want to vacuum and throw away the vacuum bag,” Haddock tells Real Simple. “We usually tell people one part bleach to ten parts water solution on the floor to try to kill the spores.”


This unicellular parasite that lives in undercooked meat can cause symptoms, according to pregnant and immunocompromised people Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common type of pet-to-person transmission is when people come into contact with their pet’s stool. And while both dogs and cats can get this parasitic infection, it is more common, according to cats an article from 2019 in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

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“If you clean the litter box or pet your cat, you can get stool because they can have microscopic pieces of stool hanging on them, especially if they have had diarrhea,” Haddock explains on the skin and dries. “For this reason, it is important to change your cat’s litter box regularly (Haddock recommends doing this daily) and to always wash your hands after touching your pet (and of course after any contact with the feces).


Some pet birds – particularly parrots, macaws, cockatiels, and budgies – can be infected with a type of bacteria called Chlamydia psittaci. It can also affect live poultry such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys. This bacterium can find its way into humans and cause a disease called psittacosis, which is typically associated with flu-like symptoms.

In addition to the usual advice to wash their hands immediately after touching a bird, Haddock recommends that people clean their bird’s cage twice a day to prevent the bird’s stool from hardening. Hard bird droppings are bad news, she says, because when the birds flap their wings, “the bacteria are aerosolized”. No thanks.