Are you a dog lover who lets your dog sleep in your bed and shower you with kisses right on the mouth? After reviewing the potential diseases that you can catch from your dog, you might want to take it down a notch. Zoonotic illness is disease passed from animals to humans, and although that might not be too common of an occurrence, it is helpful to know what these diseases are and how to prevent them.
“If you wash your hands and handle your animals carefully,” said veterinarian Emilio DeBess, DVM, State Public Health Veterinarian for Oregon, “you shouldn’t have any problems.” The risk of disease is fairly low, and the health benefits from having a pet are plentiful. This list may be a bit alarming, but most diseases can be avoided with a little knowledge, prevention measures and common sense.
Seven diseases you can get from your dog
The most contagious of all zoonotic illnesses is ringworm. Ringworm spores can live without a host for months, making it easy for your pet to get this fungal infection. Despite its name, ringworm is a fungal infection, not a parasitic worm. Symptoms for pets include skin lesions or hair loss with redness. When people get ringworm, you will see a distinct red circular patch on the skin, hence the name “ringworm.”
A great natural remedy for both dogs and humans: Mix five drops of pure lavender essential oil and five drops of tea tree essential oil with 10 drops of almond or coconut oil. Apply three times daily to the area for one week or until completely gone. It is also a good idea to wash bedding in hot water frequently and don’t share bedding or grooming tools with other pets.
This waterborne one-cell organism lives in streams, rivers and lakes, and the main symptom in both dogs and people is extreme diarrhea. Giardia in the feces can contaminate the area and water and infect other animals and people. Avoid letting your dog drink from water you are unfamiliar with or is stagnant. Always take clean drinking water for your dog when you go on hikes and avoid shared water bowls at dog parks. And always wash your hands after handling your pet’s poop to avoid coming in contact with the disease. You can check your area to see if it is known for a particular parasite at Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC).
Peppermint essential oil is proving to be a great anti-parasitic agent according to researchfrom the University of Coimbra, Portugal.
Fleas, ticks and Lyme disease
The tick is a dreaded and disgusting eight-legged insect that lives in tall grass, jumps onto animals and clamps on with their jaws into the skin. They can be so small that you can barely see them but swell up to bigger proportions as they gorge on blood. It is imperative that you remove them quickly without squeezing their bodies or leaving their mouths behind, as they may carry the bacteria for Lyme disease. Dogs can’t spread Lyme disease directly to owners, but they can bring ticks into your home.
The CAPC Lyme Disease Forecast for 2015 predicts higher than usual threat in areas where the disease is currently widespread. Most monthly tick products contain pesticides, organophosphates and other toxic ingredients linked with thousands of pet deaths and diseases. In November 2000, the National Resource Defense Council recommended in a report that the EPA ban the use of organophosphates in pet products because they were killing our pets and posing a risk to the users.
Here is an all-natural tick repellent recipe you can use instead: 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil, 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 4 oz of water. Add all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray on shoes, socks, pant cuffs or fur, avoiding eyes, mouth and nose! Safe for humans and dogs.
Recent studies show lavender essential oil is both a tick deterrent and can be used as a method of preventing tick eggs from hatching. Additionally, Ohio State University recommends it for controlling fleas. A 2007 South African study found that formulas containing diluted lavender at rates of 10 to 20 percent lavender performed well as tick repellents when compared to artificial DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) sprays.