The term “zoonotic disease” covers a variety of serious contagious illnesses affecting both humans and animals. You’ve probably heard of many of these diseases, but some are less common. It’s important to be aware of every zoonotic disease in order to protect yourself – and your pets.

At East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, our mission is to keep your pets safe and happy. We’re here not only to treat whatever issues may arise, but to educate you. Here is what you need to know about zoonotic diseases.

Defining the Term “Zoonotic Disease”

“Zoonotic” is an umbrella term referring to a disease that can be transferred from animals to humans. Zoonotic diseases stem from an external source, such as parasites or bug bites. 

Symptoms, severity, and prognoses vary, but most of them are devastating conditions – and many are deadly. And what’s worse, these diseases are often easy for you to contract via your pet, and vice versa. 

Types of Zoonotic Disease 

Frighteningly, at least 150 zoonotic diseases exist in our modern world. But fortunately, as veterinary (and human!) medicine evolves, more of these illnesses will be identified. New treatments will be developed, and these diseases will become a thing of the past. But until that time, protect your pet from conditions like these:

  • Rabies 

    • It’s terrifying to watch your animal suffer through this fatal condition. Common symptoms include foaming at the mouth, aggression, and limping. 
  • Worms (ringworms, tapeworms, hookworms, etc.) 

    • Worms are quite common in dogs and cats, especially those who are allowed to roam outside. An animal with worms may experience bloating, diarrhea, lethargy, and more.
  • Lyme disease

    • Any human who has lived through Lyme disease knows it’s not pleasant. Unfortunately, Lyme disease is not always easy to identify in animals because there may be no symptoms at first. Eventually, both humans and dogs may exhibit fever, lethargy, and lack of appetite. 
  • Leptospirosis 

    • This bacterial infection is most commonly transmitted through animal urine. Both animals and people may experience lethargy, dehydration, and frequent urination. 

If your dog, cat, rabbit, or other animal displays any of the above symptoms, call a vet immediately. When it comes to saving your pet’s life, time is precious. Be sure to act as soon as possible. 


Zoonotic diseases are extremely contagious. Germs travel between pet and person through either direct or indirect contact. Otherwise, such diseases are often spread via food or water.

  • Direct contact refers to touching an infected pet or accidentally ingesting its bodily fluids. Oral contact, such as a bite or a lick, is another example of direct contact. 
  • Indirect contact refers to germs that spread when a person and pet are close together. Common areas fill up with the germs, putting both human and animal at risk.

If you or your pet are diagnosed with a zoonotic disease, your vet will determine whether quarantine is necessary.

Treating Zoonotic Diseases

Because zoonotic diseases are caused by several different types of bacteria, treatments vary considerably. Veterinarians and doctors alike will often prescribe antibiotics or other medications to prevent further infection or pain.

The sooner that a zoonotic condition is diagnosed, the better. We cannot stress this enough! Prompt action could save a life.

Preventing Zoonotic Diseases

Follow these tips to prevent the onset and spread of zoonotic diseases: 

  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Never miss an appointment with your doctor, or your vet.
  • Be mindful of the plants, parasites, and insects that your dog may encounter. 
  • Consider restricting your pet’s outdoor access to lower the risk of infection. 
  • Arm yourself with knowledge! Be aware of these issues and all their symptoms. Keep the risks and preventions in mind at all times. 


Friendly Vet in Gilbert 

Our team at East Valley Animal Hospital cares about your pet’s safety – and yours! If you believe your pet has contracted a zoonotic disease, give us a call at 480-568-2462. Don’t wait – it may be a matter of life and death. 

Image by Henry Bell on Pixabay.