Diseases transmitted by dogs by saliva
Surely you love to pamper your dog as much as he gives them to you, and this includes letting him fill your face and hands with kisses. Keep in mind that dogs’ saliva is not free of bacteria (like ours), what’s more, they always have bacteria in their mouth and even more so if you don’t take good hygiene from it. So, it’s normal to ask yourself some things like: what happens if a dog licks your mouth? or what diseases in dogs can be spread to people (zoonosis)?
Capnocytophaga, a disease transmitted by the saliva of dogs
This is a disease caused by a bacterium (Capnocytophaga canimorsus) that is part of the bacteria that are in the mouth of dogs naturally and is found in the natural flora of the mouth of dogs, mainly in their gums, and is transmitted from dogs to humans by saliva, any lick or bite can mean the transmission of this bacteria from a dog to a human, especially if the dog bites you or if he licks your mouth or hand and later you touch your mouth without realizing it. In the dog no symptoms will be observed, since it is part of its oral flora, but if a human is infected, symptoms will surely appear such as:
- High fever.
- Back pain.
- General discomfort.
- If there is a bite wound, it will be infected.
Sometimes the disease is mild, but special care must be taken if you are a person with a weakened immune system since it can affect you seriously, so it is especially recommended to avoid licking and biting dogs if you are an immunocompromised person. Treatment should be based on an antibiotic regimen indicated by the doctor.
Worms are commonly spoken of in dogs, although they are not always worms per se, but there are several types of parasitic worms. They can be found in the digestive system of dogs that are not given antiparasitics preventively, but also in the lungs, liver and heart. Those that are most at risk of being transmitted to humans are commonly called intestinal worms, since they are the most frequent. There are two types of parasitic worms: round or nematodes and flat or tapeworms. The genera Toxocara, Ancilostoma, Ascaris, Dirofilaria, etc. are nematodes.
The eggs of these worms are eliminated by the feces, so it is possible to spread by breathing near stool contaminated with these parasites. Although contagion may seem more difficult between dogs and humans through the saliva of dogs, the reality is that it is not so difficult if, for example, your dog licks the anal area, its stool or sniffs some stools in the street carrying nematodes and their eggs. In these cases, the eggs can remain in your mouth and through a lick in your face, mouth or hands, they can pass your mouth, eyes or nose and infect you with intestinal parasites. In addition, nematodes are transmitted transplacentally to fetuses and through breast milk, both in the case of dogs and people. Therefore, most puppies whose mothers did not have strict control of deworming have worms at birth. For all this it is so important to follow the deworming guidelines indicated by your veterinarian.
Tapeworms are a type of tapeworms that appear in the feces of the dog, but they can also be on their beds or near the animal’s anus. It is common to see parts of tapeworms that look like ”rice grains” in their stool, in their blankets and beds, etc.
The contagion occurs as in the previous case, either by being near feces or materials contaminated with these pieces that contain their eggs or by the saliva of a dog infected with tapeworms. The clearest symptoms of this intestinal parasite are to see these pieces and eggs in these areas and that the dog eats a lot of food but does not gain weight or even thins weight, because the parasite removes nutrients. Treatment and prevention is also to carry out a deworming plan, as in the case of nematodes. So, now that you know how dog parasites are transmitted to people, try to have the greatest possible hygiene to avoid it.
The cause of this disease is the parasite Echinococcus granulosus, known as the hydatid worm, hence the name of the disease “hydatidosis“, or the tapeworm of the dog, because it is common among these when they are not dewormed. Until a few years ago this disease was very common, but today it is less widespread thanks to the control campaigns that municipalities and communities have carried out.
In carnivorous animals (definitive host), this parasite develops to adult form as intestinal tapeworms. These tapeworms lay eggs in the intestine of the host that go outside with the stool. The intermediate host is herbivorous animals and humans, among others. The egg is ingested and once in the intestine, the eggs release oncospheres that pass into the bloodstream through the intestinal mucosa. Infested blood reaches different organs, such as the brain, lungs, liver, etc., where hydatid cysts develop and produce with thousands of larvae.
People can get infected in the same way described above, if the eggs are in the dog’s mouth and lick or bite us or by touching an infested pet, since the eggs can also remain in the animal’s hair, passing these to our hands and when we touch the mouth, nose or eyes we get infected.
Giardias are protozoa that are transmitted mainly through feces, in which infecting cysts are released, but are also transmitted by the dog’s saliva. The contagion occurs in the same way as in nematodes and tapeworms, if the dog has these protozoa in his mouth and licks your mouth or hand and then touches your mouth, eyes or nose.
The main symptom is diarrhea and the diagnosis should be made by coprological analysis of the stool of several days, since these parasites are eliminated intermittently. The treatment for giardias or giardiasis is to take metronidazole.
Rabies, one of the viral diseases that dogs spread by saliva
This is perhaps one of the best-known diseases transmitted by dogs through saliva. This disease caused by a virus is widespread throughout the world and affects all mammals. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, since the virus is eliminated by saliva, so it can infect us with the bite of a dog but also that of a raccoon or other animals.
The inoculated virus replicates and enters the nerves of the area, advancing neuron by neuron to the brain at a slow speed. This means helps you not to be easily detected by the immune system. In addition, it will also reach the salivary glands where it multiplies and releases, so the rabies virus is spread by saliva.
Initially the disease is asymptomatic. The first symptoms of rabies that can appear are:
As the disease progresses, an angry phase occurs with symptoms such as:
- Excessive salivation.
Finally, the paralytic phase occurs when coma and death occur.
There is no treatment for rabies. If an animal bites a person, he should be kept under observation for symptoms for 10 days. The bitten person must be washed the wound with soap and water, given serum with rabies antibodies and vaccinated. Rabies vaccination is mandatory for dogs in almost all communities in Spain and always to go abroad.
Leptospirosis is a disease that dogs can transmit through saliva indirectly, since mainly the contagion occurs through contact with urine. It is caused by bacteria and, more specifically, the contagion occurs by contact of infected urine with skin lesions or by ocular, nasal or oral mucous membranes.
The first phase of leptospirosis is similar to a cold in humans and can go unnoticed. If the immune system does not control it or treatment is not instituted, the disease progresses and the kidneys, liver and other organs are affected, producing jaundice, bleeding, kidney failure, arrhythmias … death can occur. Faced with this disease, the animal has symptoms such as:
- High fever.
- Dark and sometimes hemorrhagic urine.
- Gastroenteritis with diarrhea and bloody vomiting.
Leptospira is eliminated through the urine, so if your dog has this pathology he can lick his genitals to clean traces of urine and then when licking yourself you you could get infected. In addition, there are many more animals that suffer from it and can spread it, such as rats.
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