Zoonotic Disease

“Can my pet get my kids sick?” We hear this question a lot at Animal Care Hospital. As much as we would love to say no, the truth is there are a lot of health issues that can be transferred between humans and animals. With the aid of materials from Iowa State University, we have compiled some information on zoonotic diseases and how to best help your family stay protected.

What is a zoonotic disease and how does it affect me?

Zoonotic diseases are any disease that can be spread between different species. Most commonly, we think of zoonotics that are spread from our pets, usually cats and dogs. The ability of these diseases and pests to spread from our pets to our families is especially easy with younger children or those with compromised immune systems. Oftentimes zoonotics are passed via vectors, or a secondary organism that moves the disease between individuals. Examples of common vectors include ticks and mosquitoes.

Common Zoonotic Diseases

Routes of Transmission and Bite Prevention

The ways that humans can be infected varies on the pathogen, or disease causing organism. See the attached sheet for a diagram explaining the various routes of transmission, as well as ways to prevent animal bites.

How can I protect my family?

The best way to protect your family, and your pets, is to have your pets vaccinated. If they are not carrying the pathogen to begin with, it cannot be transmitted to humans. Hand washing and quick clean up of any bodily fluids will also greatly limit the chances of someone in your family contracting a zoonotic disease. Small children are especially prone to putting things in their mouths, so keeping areas free of animal debris and regularly cleaning with a disinfectant can make a huge difference in your family’s health. As your children grow, teaching them how to safely approach and handle animals will reduce risks as well.

Healthy practices for your household:

  • Hand Washing
    • Most effective way to prevent disease!
    • Warm water and soap for about 20 seconds – this is like singing your ABC’s or humming the Happy Birthday tune.
  • Outdoor Protection
    • Avoid contact with wild animals, including birds.
    • Wearing proper clothes and using bug repellant while outdoors minimizes risk of annoying bug bites and whatever diseases they may be carrying.
    • Be conscious of places for insects or rodents to nest and remove those areas.
  • Children, Animals, and Pet Health
    • Teach children not to touch animals and then put things in their mouth.
    • Keep pets vaccinated and healthy – your veterinarian is a great resource!


We hope this information has been informative and helpful. Our mission here at Animal Care Hospital is to provide our clients with the best service possible, including the most up to date information and service personalized to your needs. Should you have any questions at all regarding this information, or anything else, please do not hesitate to give us a call!

Animal Care Hospital

8565 Highway 64

Somerville, TN 38068