Category Archives: zoonosis

Is It OK to Kiss Your Pet?

By Julia Williams

It goes without saying that we all love our pets and they love us back. I don’t think anyone would ever argue about that. Yet we may have a difference of opinion on the appropriate ways to give and receive that love. Some pet owners like to hug their dog or cat, while others say that pets don’t really like or want hugs. (I believe it depends on the pet).

Some people let their pets show their love with copious licks, even smack dab on their mouth. Others, like me, are uncomfortable with the thought of letting a dog or cat’s tongue come into contact with our lips. I do let my cats lick me on my face, but I draw the line at mouth kissing.

Opinions aside, is it really safe to kiss your dog or cat? Are there any health risks to letting your pet give you a wet kiss on your mouth? Considering where dogs and cats often put their mouths, should we be letting them shower us with affectionate licks?

Veterinarian, dog lover and author Dr. Marty Becker admits to kissing his pets, but he also says “I know I probably shouldn’t.” Dr. Becker says veterinarians are divided about the issue of kissing pets. In a veterinary publication, Dr. Christina Winn recommended that vets kiss their clients’ pets as a way to foster better relationships with them (the people, not the pets). Other vets vehemently disagreed, on the grounds that it is actually possible to catch something from kissing your dog or cat. Zoonotic diseases – those that are transmissible from animals to humans – do exist. Nobody disputes that. The difference of opinion is in regard to the risk, i.e., the likelihood of getting a zoonotic disease from kissing your pet.

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Can You Give Your Pet the Flu?

By Linda Cole

No one looks forward to the flu. The chills, aches and pains can send even the hardiest person to bed for a few days. We try to do what we can to avoid the flu, but when symptoms appear, we know people around us are at risk of catching what we have. It was thought at one time that pets in the home couldn’t be infected, but new research is raising a red flag that says it is possible to pass the flu bug to our pets.

So how do you know if you’re dealing with a cold or the flu? After all, they have common symptoms. Colds enter the body via the nose and primarily affect us above the neck with runny nose, sneezing, congestion and sore throat. Some people might have an achy feeling, with a low grade temperature. You know you’re coming down with a cold because symptoms develop over a period of a couple of days. The flu hits you like a brick. One minute you’re fine and the next you’re wrestling with muscle aches, chills, fever, fatigue and tightness in your chest, all of which are likely to send you to bed. Other symptoms can include a running nose or cough, but not as severe as with a cold.

The common belief for years was that our pets couldn’t catch the flu from their owner, but new research has challenged this with studies that show it is possible. When an infectious disease moves from animals to humans, it’s called zoonosis. Reverse zoonosis happens when humans infect animals. In 2009, the H1N1 flu virus, also known as the swine flu, had the first ever recorded case of a human transmitting the flu to her two cats. The woman recovered, but her cats died. Since then, 11 cats, one dog and a handful of ferrets have been infected with the flu after having contact with a sick human.

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