All the Diseases You Can Spread to Your Dog

When you get sick, you might want to just lay on the couch and cuddle with your dog. However, depending on your illness, there’s a chance you could actually spread it to your precious pup. While some illnesses won’t infect a dog, such as the common cold or strep throat, there is still a wide variety of sicknesses you can spread to your pup. If you have one of these eight diseases, don’t hold your pooch too close.

Dog breed Welsh Corgi Pembroke

Some human diseases can make your dog sick, too. | Anna-av/iStock/Getty Images

The flu

It used to be believed that the flu could not infect a dog. That’s because dogs have a separate virus, known as canine influenza, that can infect them. It is spread mostly through droplets of respiratory secretions, such as coughs or sneezes, and is highly contagious. Dogs typically contract the virus if they’ve been in close contact with other dogs, such as at the dog park or the kennel.

However, recent studies have shown that dogs can actually get the human influenza virus, too. That’s because the virus is constantly changing and has the ability to adapt to new environments, such as a dog’s body. However, the chances of your dog catching the flu from you are pretty small. But if your pup has a weak immune system, you might not want to cuddle with it while you’re sick.


Most people get the MMR vaccine when they’re very young, which prevents them from ever getting mumps. However, if you did not get vaccinated, you risk contracting the disease. And in rare cases, it can be spread to dogs. Dogs show similar symptoms to humans — neck or jaw swelling, loss of appetite, fever, ear pain, headache, etc. There is currently no mumps vaccine for dogs. You’re better off staying away from your dog if you’re sick with the mumps, because nobody wants to pass that discomfort on to their pup.

Food poisoning

You can get food poisoning from undercooked foods. But one specific type, salmonella, can be spread from you to your dog. Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can infect many different animals (hence how you can get it from undercooked chicken). And some research suggest about 20% of dogs have gotten the disease. But there is some good news: Dogs generally don’t get the infection as badly as we do, so it might just end up as diarrhea for your pup, but you might show symptoms like diarrhea, chills, fever, and weakness or fatigue.


It’s important to note that it’s not as easy to spread a disease to a dog as it is to a human. But with something like tuberculosis, it’s possible. Dogs typically get TB from being exposed to the air of a TB patient. If you have TB, keeping your dog in the house could eventually get it sick. (TB can also be spread to your cat.) Fever, weight loss, anorexia and coughing are the most common symptoms of TB in your dog. If you’ve had TB and think you may have spread it to your pup, see a vet.


Ringworm is a fungus that’s easily spread from human to human. But it’s also easily spread from human to dog and vice versa. Direct contact with the skin is the main way it’s spread, but it can also be spread by coming in contact with something that has the infection on it, such as a towel. Luckily, ringworm isn’t too serious, but your dog will need a trip to the vet if it has it. Also, make sure to treat your dog for as long as the vet recommends. Though the ringworm may not be visible after a few days, the infection takes a while to clear up. The most common symptom is a ring of red, scaly bumps on the skin.


MRSA is a staph infection that can be extremely serious because it’s antibiotic resistant. Skin-to-skin contact is the typical way MRSA is spread, so you definitely won’t want to cuddle with your dog if you have the infection. But it can also be spread through things like used bandages, so make sure your pup can’t get into your garbage. The most common symptom in both dogs and humans is a skin or wound infection. If you suspect your dog has it, make sure to take it to the doctor. In most cases, MRSA can be treated despite its antibiotic resistance.

Second-hand smoke

Second-hand smoke isn’t only a risk for humans. The exposure can make your dog sick, too. Believe it or not, your dog can contract nasal and lung cancer from breathing in second-hand smoke. Plus, respiratory problems are common in dogs who live with smokers. Research suggests about 30% of dogs live with a homeowner who smokes, and the consequences can be just as bad for your pup as for another human.

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