Disgusting Things You Never Knew Your Pets Are Bringing Into Your Home

Your pet may be a beloved member of the family, but he could be making you sick — literally. A 2013 study found that homes with pets had a higher number of bacteria and a more diverse range of different kinds. The whole thing is enough to make you rethink adopting all those furry friends, even if they are super cute.

Not all bacteria that pets bring into your home is dangerous. But certain things can make you ill — or in rare instances, could even kill you. The diseases caused by these bacteria are more dangerous for pregnant women, children, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Knowing the probable culprits for getting you sick is the first step to prevention. Ahead, check out all the disgusting things pets are bringing into your home.

1. Salmonella


Salmonella | iLexx/iStock/Getty Images

One of the most common bacteria that pets can carry into your home? Salmonella, the same type of infection you get from raw meat or eggs. It’s spread from dogs to humans through fecal matter.

It’s not even like you need touch the feces to get salmonella. Your dog can track it into the house on his paws, and even if he’s infected, he won’t necessarily show symptoms. Meanwhile, you’ll know you came in contact because you’ll experience diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain.

Next: This gets spread through your pet’s poop.

2. Campylobacter


Campylobacter | Eraxion/iStock/Getty Images

This bacteria is similar to salmonella symptom-wise and is spread through contact with raw food or pet waste. Dog or cat fecal matter can be contaminated. Campylobacter can cause diarrhea in pets and owners, sometimes lasting up to ten days. The best prevention? Wash your hands — a lot.

Next: This can kill your dog.

3. Leptospira

dog urine

Dog urine | damedeeso/iStock/Getty Images

This bacteria is spread through pet urine, especially dog urine. The American Veterinary Medical Association says dogs are the most likely to contract Leptospirosis. It’s transmitted when your pet comes in contact with the infected urine of another animal — even outside. Occasionally, this can lead to kidney failure or death for your dog.

This disease can also spread to people if you’re not careful. Make sure you clean up pet accidents right away to avoid the chance of spreading it.

Next: You’ve probably heard of this type of infection on the news.

4. Staphylococcus/MRSA

superbug bacteria or Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

| royaltystockphoto/Getty Images

These antibiotic-resistant bacteria aren’t just relegated to high school locker rooms. The CDC warns that MRSA can be spread through contact with infected people or animals including cats, dogs, and birds. It most typically enters the body through an open wound.

Dogs may contract the disease and show no symptoms. You’ll know you have it when you exhibit signs such as red, irritated skin and a fever.

Next: Pregnant? You need to know about this one.

5. Toxoplasma gondii

Toxoplasma gondii

Toxoplasma gondii | Dr_Microbe/iStock/Getty Images

Ever wonder why pregnant women aren’t supposed to change cat litter boxes? It’s because of the Toxoplasma parasite, which infects more than 60 million people every year through exposure to cat feces. Those with compromised immune systems should be especially careful as toxoplasmosis can cause damage to the brain, eyes, and other organs. Symptoms may include blurred vision, muscle aches, and flu-like symptoms.

Next: Stressed out dogs are at a higher risk for this.

6. Streptococcus


Streptococcus | Bet_Noire/iStock/Getty Images

These bacteria are often present on pets but harmless, though occasionally they can do some damage. Dogs can contract it from other dogs when they’re sharing bowls and bedding. Dogs that travel or are under high stress, like show dogs, are also susceptible.

One rare complication that can occur from these bacteria is Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, a dangerous disease that necessitates an immediate visit to the vet.

Next: This type of infection is becoming more common.

7. Lyme disease

Encephalitis Virus

Lyme disease | nechaev-kon/Getty Images

Even the best tick remedies won’t completely protect your dog from picking up these parasites and carrying them into your home. Besides just being gross blood-suckers, ticks can carry a whole bunch of dangerous diseases such as Lyme disease. Some symptoms of these illnesses include a headache, chills, fever, muscle aches, and eventually heart and nervous system problems.

Next: This won’t hurt your pet, but it may hurt you.

8. Pasteurella

Norwegian Forest Cat Relaxed

Cat | Phil Lewis/iStock/Getty Images

These bacteria are found mostly in cats but sometimes in dogs. It’s usually harmless to animals but can cause minor skin, ear, nose and eye infections. When these bacteria pass to humans, the complications are worse.

Usually, these bacteria get passed through bites, so if you get bitten and the area becomes red or inflamed, get to the doctor immediately for treatment.

Next: Your pet probably has this bacteria in its mouth.

9. Capnocytophaga canimorsus

dog drool saliva

Dog drool | Wavetop/iStock/Getty Images

This type of bacteria lives in 74% of all dog saliva and 57% of cat saliva. It’s usually harmless to humans, but if you get infected it can be fatal. Symptoms of infection may include blood poisoning, shock, respiratory distress, and meningitis. These bacteria are passed through bites and scratches.

Next: This disease isn’t as fun as the song about it.

10. Bartonella henselae

cat scratch claws

Cat scratch | photosaint/iStock/Getty Images

Cat scratch fever isn’t just a catchy song — it’s a disease that can cause serious complications in people with weakened immune systems. Bartonellosis presents with swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and fever. You’re particularly at risk if you have a weakened immune system.

Next: Coming in contact with this could cause unpleasant symptoms.

11. Campylobacter jejuni

Campylobacter jejuni bacteria | royaltystockphoto/iStock/Getty Images

This is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. It’s spread through uncooked food just like salmonella but can also be transmitted through the feces of dogs and cats. The best way to avoid this type of bacteria is frequent and thorough hand washing.

Next: These bacteria could cause a miscarriage in your dog.

12. Brucella canis

Sad Lovely Dog French Bulldog

French bulldog | bruev/iStock/Getty Images

These bacteria are spread through vaginal secretions, urine, and possibly saliva in dogs. It causes miscarriages and stillbirths for animals. Humans experience symptoms in the form of swollen liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. This disease doesn’t typically occur in humans — or maybe it’s just not properly diagnosed.

Next: Bird owners need to know about this.

13. Chlamydophila psittaci

pet bird in cage

Budgerigar | Lusyaya/iStock/Getty Images

The snot and feces of your pet bird contain the bacteria C. psittaci, which can cause fever, headaches, chills, and pneumonia. Left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues such as hepatitis, arthritis, and respiratory failure.

Next: This can enter your bloodstream and cause death.

14. Leptospira interrogans

puppy accident urine

Accident | Cunaplus_M Faba/iStock/Getty Images

This type of bacteria lives in the urine of several different kinds of pets and can actually enter your bloodstream through your skin. Symptoms of infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, and if the illness is left untreated it can lead to liver failure, kidney damage, meningitis, or death.

Next: Rodent owners could have a problem with this.

15. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis

a brown pet hamster

Hamster | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

These bacteria are spread through rodents like hamsters and mice. An infection occurs when people are exposed to droppings, urine, or saliva through the eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound. An infection that starts with fever, vomiting, and diarrhea could quickly escalate to inflammation of the heart and brain, which could result in permanent neurological damage if it’s not treated.

Read more: The Secret to Keeping Your House Clean Even If You Have Dogs

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