6 Diseases You Can Catch From Your Dog or Cat


As cuddly as your pet may be, there are a few sicknesses that can spread from felines or canines to humans and it helps to be careful. Any infection that can spread from an animal to a human is referred to as “zoonotic.” Here are the details, and how to protect both your pet and your family from these diseases.

1. Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis in an infection caused by salmonella bacteria; it can infect cats, dogs, and spread to people. Dogs and cats who are immune-compromised, or who are very old or very young, are most at risk of picking up this gastro-intestinal distressing bug.

Feeding your pet raw or undercooked meat can cause the infection, or they can catch the disease from another sick animal. If your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea, then thorough cleaning, disinfecting, and hand-washing are all important precautions you can take to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

2. Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis, a parasite, is problematic for those with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy. “Don’t clean the litterbox!” many an obstetrician has told pregnant patients who are cat-parents.

Although millions are infected and don’t even know it, Toxoplasmosis is most known to humans due to the increased risk it poses to pregnant women in the form of miscarriage or birth defects to the fetus.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Truth About Toxoplasmosis in Cats

3. Cat Scratch Fever

You might have heard of Cat Scratch Fever due to the popularity of the Ted Nugent song by the same name. Also known as Cat Scratch Disease, Cat Scratch Fever is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans from the saliva of infected cats. While mostly asymptomatic in cats, swollen lymph nodes are the main symptom of the disease in people.

Cat Scratch Fever is normally mild and resolves on its own, although it’s possible to experience other symptoms such as a slight fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, rash, sore throat, or general malaise. To keep your cat from being infected, make sure you use a good flea preventative, since cats catch the disease from fleas.

 RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Common Skin Issues in Dogs, and When to Worry

4. Roundworm

Roundworms are parasites that can infect a dog or cat’s intestinal tract and cause malnourishment as the parasites consume the pet’s food and block the intestines. Diarrhea is the most common symptom as roundworms latch onto the intestines. When the worms travel through the lungs and throat, dogs and cats can exhibit coughing.

If your pet shows symptoms, take them to the vet to get diagnosed and treated with a deworming medication. If transmitted to humans, most cases of roundworm won’t cause severe symptoms.

RELATED ARTICLE: Parasites and Worms in Dogs and Cats

5. Hookworm

Hookworms are intestinal parasites that feed off of your pet’s blood. Prevention is easy! Keep your pet on a once-monthly preventative medication like Heartgard to prevent hookworm, heartworm, and other parasites. There are some great treatments out there for hookworms if your dog or cat is already infected.

While hookworm in humans is uncommon and generally clears up on its own, it can cause an itchy skin disease called “creeping eruption” (ew!)

RELATED ARTICLE: How Parasite And Worm Treatment Works

6. Ringworm

Scaly or inflamed circular bald patches on your dog or cat can signal ringworm, which is actually a fungal infection. While it’s not technically serious, ringworm is highly contagious and should be treated immediately to avoid infecting other pets or people.

Has your pet ever come down with a yucky infection and then given it to you? Let us know in the comments! Prevent and treat infections by signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.


6 Tips for a Stress-Free Vet Visit

It’s the rare pet who actually enjoys a trip to the vet. In fact, such an animal is probably rarer than a unicorn. However, there are ways to make trips to the vet slightly more pleasant for everyone, although it will take a little more work and foresight to pave the way for a smooth vet visit.

1. Touch your pet like a vet would.

One of the reasons vet visits are so startling to pets is that the vet touches them in ways and places they aren’t accustomed to. You can help your pet feel comfortable with these unusual methods of touching by playing doctor and rehearsing a veterinary exam.

Your vet will examine your pet from head to tail, and may palpate – or gently press down using the hands – different areas of your pet’s body, like the neck and the belly. Lift up your pet’s tail, and run your hands all over your pet, including the feet and nails.

RELATED STORY: The Ever-Important Dog Physical Exam

2. Don’t get nervous.

Be aware of you own energy, because your pet can feed off your anxiety. If you realize you feel nervous on the day of the vet visit, be sure to take some deep, cleansing breaths to lower your heart rate. Stick to your regular routine, including walks, which will help to burn off that nervous energy.

3. Use a calming collar.

If your pet seems to really panic at the idea of a trip to the vet, then consider purchasing a calming collar for your cat or your dog. The soothing scents of chamomile and lavender may help to comfort and relax your pet.

RELATED STORY: How To Know If Your Dog Has Anxiety

4. Don’t use a carrier only for vet visits.

If your pet only sees the inside of the carrier when it’s time for the vet, then that little box is going to represent a cage of panic and grief for your animal. If you use a carrier at home as a safe place for your pet to snuggle and nap, then it won’t seem like such a big, stressful deal to hop in the carrier for transportation to the vet.

5. Practice car rides for other fun reasons.

Likewise, if your pet only rides in the car on the way to the vet, it’s going to be a very long car ride for both of you. Try taking your pet on other excursions in the car, for example, to drive your dog to a meadow for a hike.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog

6. Use treats strategically.

If your cat enjoys catnip, then plan on using it strategically, because the effect only lasts about 5 to 15 minutes. Figure out the worst part of the vet visit for you; is it coaxing your cat into the carrier, or the part where you open the carrier for the vet? Use your kitty treats or catnip with those circumstances in mind to keep the effectiveness high.

Likewise, if you know you have a visit to the vet approaching, get a little stingy with your treats for your dog until it’s ‘go time’ for maximum effect. A dog with a belly that’s already loaded with treats isn’t going to be too interested in your bribery.

How do you keep your pet calm for a vet visit? Let us know by leaving a comment below! Sign up for PetPlus and save up to 75% on your pet’s medications plus discounts on boarding, supplies, and more. 


Got the Pet Healthcare Blues? This Pet Parent Did

Jazz and Blues are big dogs, and their owner, Emily McVeigh, has an equally big heart. Since rescuing the dogs in 2009 and 2011 respectively, Emily estimates that she has spent over $15,000 on the dogs’ health care, not including the $1,000 she spends monthly on prescription foods and medications.

And because Emily does not have pet health insurance or a membership plan like PetPlus, these are all out of pocket costs.

“When I adopted Jazz I was not aware of pet insurance,” Emily says. “By the time I became aware of it, she had already bloated and had too much health history to really make it cost effective.” Jazz has been plagued with a number of health issues from a young age, starting with a diagnosis of hip dysplasia at 11 months, followed by bloat at 12 months. Despite having two procedures to prevent future bloat, she has suffered many more episodes. Jazz also has Cushing’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, food allergies, and irritable bowel syndrome. And last summer, she tore her ACL and a tumor was discovered on her abdomen.

From left: Jazz, Emily, her Yorki mix Preston, and Blues

From left: Jazz, Emily, her Yorki mix Preston, and Blues

“Jazz’s health status is a daily struggle,” Emily says. “She is my heart and soul. I hate to see her so ill. Jazz has also taken a significant toll on my finances. That brings a whole different level of stress. Not knowing what the next round of testing will bring, what new medications she will be needing.” But there’s more. The same summer that Jazz tore her ACL and a tumor was discovered, Emily’s other Great Dane, Blues, was diagnosed with cancer. “My world stopped spinning when I found out Blues had cancer,” Emily says. “I was actually notified on my birthday. Blues was my travel buddy, we went everywhere in town [together]. We volunteered together, trained together, at the house he was velcroed to my side. The thought of him no longer being there was almost more than I could handle.”

Coping With the Unexpected Costs of Pet Illness

Emily picked up extra shifts at work and asked family for help so that she could pay for both Jazz and Blues’ treatments simultaneously. Jazz needed surgery, and Blues needed both surgery and radiation to have a chance at survival. “Trying to get funds together for that treatment when we only had a 30-day treatment window — from day of surgery to starting radiation for treatment to work — was horrific stress,” Emily says. Today, Emily is happy to report that Blues is cancer free and only suffers from seasonal allergies. All of Jazz’s illnesses and treatments, however, are still a lot to handle without insurance. “Knowing we are in a chronic state so that costs will never go down only up is hard,” Emily says. “With Blues it was a one time hit; it hurt but it was over as quickly as it came. Jazz’s financial strain is here to stay, so I just constantly look at alternative income sources [and] cost saving measures.”

There are times, Emily says, when there is no spending outside of basic necessities. She has also made some significant life changes to pay for the dogs’ health care. “I switched full time jobs to one that had better pay and more flexibility so that I could get the dogs to the vet more efficiently,” Emily says. “I started working weekends to earn extra money, did odd jobs, more competitive shopping — anything to ease the burden.” Emily has also looked for ways to save on the dogs’ medications. “We call local pharmacies for [the] lowest price and take advantage of discount programs. I also use manufacturer coupon/rebates, [and] buy in bulk from warehouse stores for non prescriptions to save money.” While none of it is easy, it is all worth it for Emily, who keeps two blogs about her dogs — bluesfightscancer.com and jazzandbluesblog.com. “The dogs are such an important part of my life,” she says. “First and foremost they are my family and I treat them as such.”

Lessons Learned

When asked if she had any advice for other pet parents about how to pay for their pet’s health care, Emily said: “Get pet insurance; [a] savings account does not prepare you for catastrophic events, especially if you were to have more than one, which can and does happen. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a pet due to financial hardship.” Here at PetPlus, we were so moved by Emily’s story that we decided to offer her a free year of PetPlus coverage. “That is absolutely amazing!” she said. We think so too and are honored to be help! We’ll look forward to checking back in with Emily after she’s had a chance to take advantage of all the benefits offered by PetPlus. For now, check out a video of Jazz and Blues playing in the snow below, and head over to Emily’s blogs to keep up with the whole gang.

Have a story you’d like to share or know a pet-family deserving of a free trial of PetPlus? Contact the Pet Savvy editors at content [at] petplus {dot} com or leave a note in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you. 


Pet Med Legislation: The Battle For Transparency

Pet Med Legislation is coming that might make your pet meds more expensive! 

Do you always get your pet medications from your veterinarian? Most people don’t even know that there are other options.

Drawn to the $7.6 billion-a-year pet medication market, more competition is quickly stirring up the old standby formula of getting a prescription from the vet and buying the medication right there.

Big box stores, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, and online pet stores not only sell pet medications, they often have more competitive prices. Consumer Reports has found that vet markups on prescription medications are often 100% or more, sometimes hitting as much as 1,000%.

This host of new options for buying pet medications, and a battle over national legislation, are poised to allow pet parents to find the best deals for themselves.

Karen Sable, a Munhall, PA pet parent to a 12-year-old cat, picked up her cat’s antibiotics from the local grocery store, where a Giant Eagle pharmacy carried the antibiotic for no charge.

At Target, customers can apply pet medications to a promotion offering 5% off a day’s purchases.

PetCareRx.com carries hundreds of pet medications, and is Vet-VIPPS certified, meaning the site is recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)–an organization that makes sure online pharmacies meet state and federal licensing requirements.

Not all veterinarians are pleased by this new competition. Deb Otlano, a West Mifflin, PA pet parent, who breeds Doberman Pinschers, says that she does feel push-back when asking a vet for a prescription so she can purchase the medications elsewhere.

Changing the Status Quo

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that this changing pet medication landscape reflects “the willingness of cost-conscious pet-owners to step out on their vets.”

The status quo has long been that veterinarians both prescribe the medication and sell the medication to the pet parent. In fact, some pet medication manufacturers only sell their medications through vets. Elanco has said this is its policy in order to preserve the integrity of pet owner-vet relationship.

The battle for transparency in pet medications began in 2011, when Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, introduced a bill that would require vets to provide written prescriptions that clients could fill wherever they wanted. That bill faced strong opposition from The American Veterinary Medical Association, and the bill died.

Just last month, Mr. Matheson reintroduced the legislation, along with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. The Fairness to Pet Owners Act, if passed, will mean that pet parents will automatically receive a copy of their pet’s prescriptions without having to ask for it, signing a waiver from the vet, or paying a fee.

What Do You Think?

Where do you buy your pet’s medications? Do you always shop for the best price?