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The Potential Dangers of Fecal and Other
Contamination From Pets in Your Home

We love our pets like a part of the family, and welcome them into just about every part of our homes, from our kitchen to our bedrooms. Of course, pets bring great joy to their owners and typically are very safe to live with.

pet dangers

Pets are generally very safe to live with, but it's important to know the potential risks (especially if you fall into one of the higher risk categories below).

There are, however, some diseases that humans can contract from animals, including their pets; these are known as zoonoses. Most people have little risk of contracting these illnesses, but you may be at a slightly higher risk if you:

  • Have a compromised immune system

  • Have AIDS/HIV or are undergoing chemotherapy

  • Have received an organ or bone marrow transplant

  • Are elderly

  • Are pregnant (as fetus' immune systems are not fully developed)

Potential Health Risks of Different Pets

Different animals carry different, albeit small, risks to their owners. Here we've described the potential dangers surrounding some of the most popular pets.


Dog feces can transmit a number of bacteria and parasites to people, including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, cryptosporidia, Giardia, Salmonella and Campylobacter. You can minimize this risk by keeping your pet and your pet's environment clean using the commercial-grade PerfectClean terry cloths, which have patented built-in antimicrobial protection, and are able to pick up contaminants that can't be seen with the naked eye.

Meanwhile, you can further reduce your risk by only getting dogs that are older than 9 months (puppies are more likely to harbor diseases) and having their stool tested by a veterinarian.


Cats are also generally very safe pets, but they can transmit several diseases via feces, scratches or bites. These include Cat Scratch Disease and Bacillary Angiomatosis (BA), bacterial infections (Salmonella and Campylobacter), some intestinal parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, hookworms, and roundworms), and, in very rare cases, plague.

There is also a rare risk of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Though toxoplasmosis generally only causes mild symptoms in healthy adults, it is a risk to pregnant women because it can cause birth defects and miscarriages.

People can rarely contract toxoplasmosis by coming into contact with cat feces, but, much more commonly, they acquire toxoplasmosis by eating undercooked meat and unwashed fruits or vegetables, or by accidental ingestion of contaminated soil when gardening.

You can drastically reduce your risk of contracting an illness from your cat by keeping it indoors only (many of the diseases are contracted when your cat eats a rodent or other animal outside).

Keep Your Home -- and Your Pets -- Perfectly Clean!

PerfectCleanPerfectClean cloths, mitts, and dusters are the preferred choice in hospitals, schools and other commercial organizations because they clean down to a microscopic level. Now these amazing cleaning tools are available for you to use in your own home, and they're even gentle enough to use on your pet!

Find out more about the cleaning power of PerfectClean now!


Diseases that humans can potentially catch from birds include Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC, a disease similar to tuberculosis), parrot fever, Cryptococus and Salmonella. These can be contracted by coming into contact with bird droppings and nasal discharge, or by breathing dried, powdered droppings.

You can reduce the risks of these diseases by keeping your bird clean (and changing the bird's cage liner daily) and healthy.

Aquarium Fish

People can potentially contact mycobacterial infections (a type of tuberculosis) and some skin infections by coming into contact with infected fish and/or aquarium water.

Wearing gloves while cleaning the tank and handling fish will help to reduce your risk.


Intestinal parasites in young ferrets can be potentially spread to humans. Meanwhile, ferrets can catch the human flu, and then pass it back to its owner. Keeping your ferret clean and healthy will help to reduce any risks.

Rabbits and Rodents

Most rabbits carry pasteurella bacteria, which can infect any human scratches or bites. Meanwhile, rabbits can potentially transfer parasites such as fur mites and ringworm to humans. Rodents (guinea pigs, mice, and rats) can occasionally transmit a variety of intestinal ailments to humans, including some bacterial infections (Salmonella and Campylobacter) and intestinal parasites.

Keeping your pet clean and healthy, and washing your hands after handling them, will reduce your risks.


Snakes, turtles, lizards and other reptiles can transmit salmonella to humans through handling (reptiles can carry salmonella all over their bodies).

You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling a reptile and never wash it in your kitchen sink or bathtub.

Finally, remember that pets generally pose few risks to healthy people, yet can provide many positive benefits to your physical health and well-being.

Recommended Reading

How Can Having Pets Improve Your Health? Let Us Count the Ways...

Is Pet Insurance a Good Investment? Find Out Why the Answer Depends on YOU


Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS)

U.S. FDA News April 6, 2007

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