People attending dog social events can be at risk of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that spread from animals to people. Some of these diseases can be spread directly from dogs to people, while other diseases may come from the environment where the dog social gathering is taking place.
All dog bites should be immediately cleaned with soap and water and the rabies vaccination status of the biting dog should be determined. If bitten, consult your physician. Some states require animal bites to be reported to local health authorities, so be sure to notify them as well, if necessary.
People can also become infected with the mange mite that causes sarcoptic mange in dogs and develop itchy, reddened skin.
Roundworm infection in people can cause serious, even life-threatening, illness when the parasites enter the organs. Lung, liver or brain damage can occur. If the parasites enter the eyes, permanent blindness can result.
Hookworms can cause severe itching and tunnel-like, red areas as they move through the skin. If they are eaten, they can cause intestinal problems.
People can become infected with canine ringworm caused by the fungal organism Microsporum canis through contact with an infected dog. Symptoms include itching, scaly skin, hair loss and possibly "ring-like" skin rashes.
People can also develop leptospirosis from exposure to water contaminated with Leptospira-contaminated urine. Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting,
Although the possible disease issues to be transmitted from dogs to humans may seem overwhelming, veterinarians are experts on zoonotic diseases and animal-related health hazards. Please consult with your veterinarian if you have questions or need more information about any of the diseases described here. Your veterinarian may also wish to consult with your physician regarding any health issues to ensure that both you and your dog remain as healthy as possible.
Dogs' Social Lives and Disease Risks
Protect Your Dog, Yourself and Others
Disease Risks for Dogs
The AVMA would like to thank the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Robert Belden, Dr. Ron Schultz, the American College of Veterinary Behavior, and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior for their roles in developing this document.
This information has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Redistribution is acceptable, but the document's original content and format must be maintained, and its source must be prominently identified. Please contact Dr. Kimberly May (800.248.2862, ext 6667) with questions or comments.