Can Dogs Get Sick From Humans?

Four Minutes
Feb 06, 2024

From using hand sanitizer to wearing masks, we’ve all heard about taking extra steps to prevent spreading illness to other humans. But should we be doing the same with our pets? Many dog owners may wonder, can dogs get sick from humans?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is yes.1 Some viruses can be transmitted from humans to animals, a process known as reverse zoonosis.2 Let’s take a look at some of the most common illnesses that can (and can’t) make the jump from human to pooch.

Can Dogs Catch COVID From Humans?

Yes — the COVID-19 virus is the most recent addition to the list of illnesses that can undergo reverse zoonosis. Recent research has shown that COVID-19 can spread from humans to animals, including dogs.3 Symptoms for dog COVID may include:

Fortunately, cases of dog COVID are rare and usually mild.3 If you have COVID, you can protect your pet the same way you would other people: by avoiding direct contact and not sharing things like contaminated food or drinks. Should your pup fall ill, contact your vet for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. They’ll likely suggest you keep your pet isolated at home while they’re sick to avoid spreading the virus to other animals.3

Can Dogs Get the Flu From Humans?

The good news is there’s currently no evidence to suggest that dogs can be infected with strains of the human flu virus.[4] The bad news? Our beloved dogs aren’t completely safe from the flu. Canine influenza does exist in the form of two strains: H3N2 and H3N8.4 Both are relatively new, having only been recorded within the last two decades. That means most dogs haven’t yet developed a natural immunity to canine influenza, nor is there an existing cure. However, there is a vaccine available for canine influenza to help protect your dog from these strains. Symptoms are often mild and can include:4

  • Coughing, either dry or wet
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing

If you observe these symptoms in your pup, it’s likely they caught canine influenza from another dog. Make sure they’re well-rested and hydrated, and talk to your vet to discuss further treatment options.

Can Dogs Catch the Mumps From Humans?

This highly contagious virus can make the leap from human to dog, although it’s a rarity.1 You may have experienced the unpleasantness of the mumps during childhood: headache, fever, and swelling of the salivary glands.1 Symptoms of mumps in dogs are similar and can include:1

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swelling behind the ears

If your pup is unlucky enough to catch the mumps, your vet may recommend treatment to help mitigate the symptoms during recovery. To avoid infecting your dog, keep them isolated from family members who currently have or recently had the mumps.1

Can Dogs Catch Colds From Humans?

Similar to the flu, the virus that causes the common cold — called rhinovirus — can’t be transferred from humans to dogs, but there are similar canine equivalents.5 A bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica (aka kennel cough) can cause respiratory infections with symptoms similar to the cold, as can the canine adenovirus and the canine parainfluenza virus.5

As recently as November 2023, there have also been reports of a “mystery illness” causing cold- and flu-like symptoms in 14 states across the country.[6] Dogs are more likely to catch these bugs when they spend time around other canines, such as at a boarding facility or dog park.5  In addition to isolating sick pets, the best way to keep your pooch safe is to make sure they’re up-to-date with their vaccines!

Can Dogs Catch Ringworm From Humans?

Ringworm is an itchy rash caused by a fungal infection.1 It can affect humans and animals alike, and it can easily be spread from one to the other. If you have ringworm, merely brushing against your dog could be enough to spread the fungus. It can even spread via objects you’ve both touched.1 This is also a case where the ease of transmission goes both ways, which is why isolation is so important. Combining that with doctor- or vet-recommended antifungal medication is the best way to stomp out ringworm before it can infect your dog or vice versa.1

Can Dogs Get Herpes From Humans?

Human herpes is caused by the HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus. HSV-1 causes cold sores and is especially easy to transmit — over 80% of people in the U.S. have been exposed to it at some point in their life![7] Fortunately, dogs can’t be infected by HSV-1 or HSV-2, and so they can’t get herpes from humans. They can, however, be infected by the canine herpes virus (CHV).[8]

CHV has an extensive list of potential symptoms, from bloody nasal discharge to shivering, seizures, and even sudden death.8 It’s typically transmitted between dogs via licking and other forms of close contact.8 If you suspect your pup may have been exposed to CHV, bring them to the vet right away for diagnosis. Younger dogs may require antiviral medication to combat CHV, while adults can sometimes recover on their own.8

Can Dogs Get Salmonella From Humans?

Salmonella, a bacteria that’s often responsible for food poisoning, can be transmitted to dogs through direct contact with an infected person. Symptoms of Salmonella infection in dogs are similar to those you would see in a human:1

●      Fever

●      Nausea

●      Diarrhea

●      Headaches

●      Abdominal cramping

The easiest way to prevent Salmonella from spreading to your dog is to follow good hygiene practices. Wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, and make sure your pup isn’t drinking from the toilet!1

Pet Insurance Can Help Cover Illnesses

Preventing your dog from getting sick can often be as simple as washing your hands and keeping your distance when ill. But for those times when your pup catches a bug anyway, dog insurance can help cover the costs of diagnosis and treatment. A MetLife Pet policy offers both accident and illness protection, so you can focus less on the vet bills and more on getting your dog back to their tail-wagging self. Fetch a free quote to see what you could save, or learn more about how our pet insurance works first.

Help Protect Your Pup From Illnesses

Dr. Hunter Finn is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. America’s favorite veterinarian owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends.

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).


1 “Can You Make Your Dog Sick?” PetMD

2 “What is Reverse Zoonosis?” News-Medical, 2021

3 “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and Pets,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023

4 “Does My Dog Have Canine Flu?” Wag Walking, 2023

5 “Can Dogs Catch the Common Cold?” PetMD, 2023

6 “What We Know About the ‘Mystery Illness’ Affecting Dogs,” PetMD, 2023

7 “Can Dogs Get Herpes?” Wag Walking, 2022

8 “Canine Herpes Virus Infection in Dogs,” Wag Walking

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