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Keeping our Families Safe: Illnesses Pets & People Can Catch from Each Other

There are some pretty universal rules when it comes to being a pet guardian and keeping our families safe. Don’t abuse or mistreat them. Never make them live in a shelter that requires them to fight the elements and risk exposure. Feed them nutritious foods and make sure they always have clean water available. Take them to the vet when needed. Most importantly, give them love. Right? And there are a few rules we all know, but often break, either by accident or by cheating. We understand we shouldn’t feed our pets people-food, but sometimes we can’t resist their little faces. And we are supposed to avoid certain garden variety plants, avoid people-products on our pet’s skin, keep a close eye on human-medications, and we all need regular exercise and socialization. But what about illnesses? There are so many illnesses that cross the species barrier, yet we often don’t think about it when it comes to our pets. Don’t worry; we’re not here to scare everyone into hoarding antibiotics and fearing the next pandemic. This is a pet-human friendly list of the top treatable illnesses that can cross the species barrier, right in our homes, and easy ways to treat them. That way we keep our entire family, furbabies and human-babies, happy and healthy.


When we think about animal flu, we think about Avian Influenza and Swine flu. It can be scary when we hear about these big dangerous cases of flu that cause so much damage. Keeping our families safe can also just be considered at home. Cross-species flu transmission is more common than most of us would think, just not as deadly. How many of us stay home when we have the flu and let our pets snuggle with us for comfort? More and more researchers are discovering that flu transmission to household cat and dog populations are a real concern. We can’t give our pets flu shots to help protect them, so the best course of action is to be aware of our habits and adjust to avoid exposure:
  • Avoid breathing on our sweet cuddle monsters.
  • Be careful to wash our hands when preparing their food.
  • Don’t let them lick our hands or face while we are sick.
  • If we notice flu-like symptoms in our pets, we should take them to the vet to get checked.

We can’t give our pets flu shots to help protect them, so the best course of action is to be aware of our habits and adjust to avoid exposure


Yup, colds can pass the species barrier, but it’s rarer that the flu. Dogs can get colds but are not affected by the viruses that cause human colds. Cats, on the other-hand, can catch colds from us and we can catch colds from them. It’s still considered rare, but it does happen. The respiratory tract of felines is similar enough to humans that we can share colds and respiratory diseases. The best things to do if either of us has a cold:
  • Get comfortable with a soft, quiet place to lay down, food, and clean water.
  • Clean the litter box more often in the case of cat colds, to minimize reinfection.
  • Consider a humidifier to help alleviate stuffiness.
  • If the cold persists or is extra harsh, experts recommend that we go to the doctor and vet for cultures, a blood test, and treatment options.

Dogs can get colds but are not affected by the viruses that cause human colds. Cats, on the other-hand, can catch colds from us and we can catch colds from them.


This is much more common than people would like to know and luckily, it’s really easy to treat. Ringworm sounds gross because of the name, but it’s not actually a worm. It’s a fungus that causes skin infections called, tinia corporis. Cats, dogs, guinea pigs, cows, and humans are the biggest culprits. And all it takes is skin-to-skin contact. There’s no downtime with this one. There are plenty of antifungal medications and topicals. Our tried and true is EcoRingworm because recovery is fast and comfortable. Keeping our families safe is important and easy when it comes to this particular infection.


Yeast infections can be internal or dermal, meaning only skin-deep. Yeast infections are known to cross the species. It’s not just humans and household pets, but farm animals and wild animals that can end up sharing this discomfort. The most important thing to remember is to keep hands clean. Use common best practices and common sense, such as always washing after using the restroom and keeping litter boxes clean. Most cases can be treated with topicals. In the case of our pets, we should keep a topical on-hand for suspect scratching and as always, consult a physician and vet in more extreme or long-lasting cases.

Keeping Our Families Safe from Bacteria, Viruses, Parasites, Fleas, Mites, Fungus, Yeast

Keeping-Our-Families_safe All of these are possible, but keep in mind that transmission is more common than we might realize and treatment is simple. Keeping our medicine cabinets stocked with trusted staples, so we are prepared for the possibilities, is the safest way to a fast remedy. And remember to use common sense about consulting a vet or physician. For example, if the flu is passed on to our cat or dog needs to be documented. Mutations are certainly not always dangerous, but tracking illnesses and noting their patterns can help healthcare professionals on both sides of the industry, animal, and people, better understand how diseases work. This adds to the body of knowledge that helps to prevent future large-scale breakouts. This April 26th is National Kids and Pets Day. Let’s celebrate keeping our families safe by using #vetorganics and #nationalkidsandpetsday on social to talk about our experiences, health, wellness, and other topics about healthy human-pet families. We can stock our medicine cabinets to ensure we are prepared. And we can educate our families about health and illness best-practices.

Michelle Lievense

Michelle is a writer and ghostwriter, specializing in wellness, sustainability, and global social change. She is particularly fond of serving ethical organizations who contribute to a better life for people and animals through humane and environmentally responsible missions. At Vet Organics, Michelle uses her time as a vet tech, her academic studies in animal science and behavior, and nearly a decade working on a ranch teaching animal husbandry to write on a variety of cat and canine health topics. When she isn't writing, Michelle can be found hiking in the mountains of Colorado with her dogs or snuggled up with a good book and her cats.

What Customers Are Saying


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*Results may vary based on factors such as age, size and physical condition of your pet.