It’s always a worrying time when your cat is showing signs of illness. Often in the back of our minds, we wonder if the cat’s disease will spread to our dogs as well. Luckily there are only a few pet infectious diseases of importance that can spread from cats to dogs. The few cat diseases that can be contagious to dogs are mostly curable, with one exception.
A common cat disease called ringworm is contagious to dogs. Now, you may think this is some sort of worm or parasite but ringworm is a fungal disease. Younger cats with low immunity or older, sicker cats are more prone to ringworm.
The signs to look out for with ringworm in dogs are:
- A round bald patch of hair on the head, neck, or feet.
- Crusting, scales, or scabs around the edges of the bald patch.
- Ringworm is not an itchy disease so scratching or licking is not a common sign.
Ringworm is very easily transmitted from cats to dogs and vice versa. You can even be the agent that passes on the infection from your cat to your dog if you are not careful. Once a diagnosis has been made, separation of your cats and dogs is advised. Wear protective clothing such as gloves and aprons for treatments and feeding.
Treatment Options for Ringworm
The good news is that this pet infectious disease is curable. Veterinarians prescribe medications or topical creams and shampoos to kill the fungal spores. Your veterinarian or online vet can help talk you through the options that will work best for you. Decontamination of your home is also important and tricky but prevents repeat infections.
Ringworm fungal spores can infect people too. Early detection and treatment reduce this risk to humans. Keep cats and dogs infected with ringworm away from children and seniors living in your home.
Fleas are another pet infectious disease that can spread from cats to dogs. Usually, a parasite will infect only one species, but no, not fleas! They are not picky and will hop from cats to dogs without a second thought! A flea infection is more common in the spring and summer.
Signs of a flea infection in cats and dogs are:
- Hair loss
- Black dirt on the skin or hairs
- Fleas in the coat
- A pink or red color to the skin
- Itching or scratching and biting around the base of the tail.
Treatment Options for Fleas
The good news is that a flea infection is treatable. Use a veterinary-approved flea treatment on the same day for all cats and dogs in the home. You will need to treat your home, as fleas lay eggs in their environment. Vacuuming will help the eggs to hatch. After hatching the fleas will try to feed on your pet, and the flea treatment will do its job to kill them. Hot-wash all your bedding and soft furnishings to kill eggs, larvae, and fleas.
Very severe or repeat infections will need a flea bomb for the home. Flea bombs kill eggs and reduce the number of fleas that will hatch, stopping the life cycle of the flea. Always remove pets from the area when using a flea bomb as the fumes can be irritating to their airways. Read the label and use the correct number of flea bombs for the size of your home.
Cat Bite Injuries
A cat’s mouth is full of “bad” bacteria. These bacteria can be very harmful if transmitted to dogs through biting. A cat bite will place bacteria deep under the skin. This bypasses the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Once under the skin, the bacteria multiply and form an infection or pocket of pus. The infection can be painful for your dog and veterinary care is advisable. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication can help your dog recover.
Rabies is a disease that can spread to dogs. If the cat is infected with the rabies virus, it can infect dogs by biting or scratching them. Dogs and cats need to have yearly vaccinations to protect them from this fatal disease. There is no cure, and any dog bitten by a rabies-infected cat has a high chance of contracting rabies. If your dog is bitten by a cat who may have rabies, contact your veterinarian straight away.
The last cat disease that can infect our doggy companions is worms. Signs of worm infection in dogs are:
- Licking at the bottom
- Dragging their butt across the ground (“scooting”)
- A rounded belly
- Feces with worms or small white segments are present; often they look like small grains of rice.
Cats get worm burdens by ingesting eggs on their coat, or in fecal matter. The worms multiply in the intestines, and some will pass through with the feces. Dogs who eat infected cat feces will then acquire a worm infection. We have all seen a dog sniffing around the cat litter box or roll in cat poop from excitement in the garden!
Treatment Options for Worms
Treatment is easy. Use any veterinary-approved product that treats all worm types, including tapeworm. Treat all the dogs and cats in your home at the same time. Clean all litter trays and pick up any poop in the garden to stop your pets from getting infected again.
As pet parents, we can take an active role in preventing the transmission of cat diseases to our dogs. By staying on top of vaccination, flea, and worm treatments you can protect your pets from disease. If you’re still looking for a vet to protect against these contagious diseases, find a veterinarian near you.