Can You Catch a Stomach Virus from a Dog?

can you catch a stomach virus from a dog

With so much talk going on about viruses at the moment, you may have heard discussions about dogs and their viruses and the potential for sicknesses to jump between species. In fact, just the other day I read a news article about whether we can catch a virus from our dogs and vice versa.

I asked a vet friend of ours what the truth was, and what follows are my notes from the discussion we had about humans catching a stomach virus from a dog. Here’s what I discovered.

Can you catch a stomach virus from a dog? Studies are inconclusive about humans catching viruses from dogs. However, a bacterial intestinal infection can be caused by Campylobacter jejuni or Campylobacter upsaliensis. This results in vomiting, diarrhea and fever in humans.

Around 1.3 million Americans are affected every year by these bacteria. It’s spread to humans via dog or cat’s feces so it doesn’t take a leap of faith to think that you can get sick from your dog being sick.

Whether it’s a virus or bacteria, it’s interesting to note that some of our stomach bugs could be because of our dog.

Read on to find out how you can catch a stomach bug from your dog, what are the symptoms and why hygiene in the home is important. I’ll also talk about whether dogs can get a virus from their human friends or not.

Can I get a stomach virus from my dog?

My research and conversations came up with some interesting facts. A few studies have been conducted on norovirus. This is the nasty stomach virus that spoils many happy cruise ship holidays! Also known as stomach flu, it’s most commonly spread through contaminated food.

It does seem possible for dogs to have their own strains of norovirus and their symptoms are similar to humans. These can be vomiting, runny diarrhea and even fever.

Evidence has shown signs of human norovirus binding to canine gastrointestinal lining. What these studies haven’t been able to prove is if transmission is possible from dogs to humans.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence, it does make sense to practice hygiene when you have dogs around. This means washing your hands often especially after playing or cuddling with your dog.

Can you get sick from your dog being sick
Make sure you wash your hands properly after play to avoid getting a stomach bug from your dog.

What stomach bugs can I get from my dog?

As the verdict on stomach viruses being caused by dogs is still pending, you do need to know you can still get gastroenteritis from your fur-baby. This stomach bug is caused by little, mean bacteria otherwise known as Campylobacter jejuni or Campylobacter upsaliensis.

Infection happens through contaminated dog (or cat) feces. As some dogs don’t present with symptoms, you may be unaware that your pooch has these bacteria lurking in their body. So, the next time it’s your turn to pick up the poop, make sure you wash your hands afterwards.

Even if your dog doesn’t present with symptoms, you’ll most likely feel them and even end up in bed with a nasty case of the stomach bug. These symptoms show up 2 to 3 days after exposure and include:

  • Diarrhea which can be bloody
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

You can expect to be feeling down for about a week and most times, you won’t need antibiotics. Doctors do advise you drink plenty of water to replace fluids and get some rest.

For interest sake: Your dog doesn’t always need to carry the blame for spreading this stomach bug. Campylobacter infections can also be caused by unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat and contaminated water.

Hamsters, birds and some farm animals are also known to pass this on to their human owners.

Is it true I can get salmonella from my dog?

Another bacterium that can cause severe stomach upsets in humans is salmonella. How many times have you be warned by your mother to always cook that chicken well? That’s because salmonellosis is known to spread through poultry and other contaminated foods.

Salmonella can be found in your fur-baby’s favorite doggie treats, in their kibbles and even on their toys. While your dog may not present with symptoms, if you catch it, you’re going to know all about it. Salmonella in humans can be a severe illness.

The most common route of transmission is from feces to oral contact. However, evidence has shown you can get it through direct contact. So, grandma had a point about dogs licking faces!

How do you know if you have been infected by salmonella? Symptoms normally present about 72 hours after expsoure and you can expect the following to happen:

  • Vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramping

You can expect to have serious gastrointestinal upsets for anything between 4 to 7 days. Your doctor will likely advise you to keep yourself hydrated by drinking extra fluids. Most times, a specific treatment is not required.

Handy Hint: I also recently researched whether dogs can catch colds from their human owners. Here’s what I found out.

How do I keep my home hygienic for my dog and family?

Common sense tells you to always wash your hands after handling anything that may carry germs. With the prevalent of viruses doing the rounds, it makes even more sense to wash your hands as often as possible. Warm water and soap does the trick and always make sure you wash for at least 20 seconds.

But, what are the other ways of keeping your home hygienic for both you, your family and your fur-baby?

Here are some tips to help you out.

1. Manage the kissing and licking

Okay, this is a difficult one especially when your pooch is showering you with love. Letting your dog kiss and lick you all over your face can pose some health problems. So, do your best to make sure they don’t lick inside your mouth or up your nose. Most infections do transmit through saliva.

can a human catch a stomach virus from a dog
You might get a stomach bug from your dog when kissing them and the potential transfer of fecal matter.

2. Keep inside and outdoor areas clean

We all know we have to pick up dog poop every day. Not only does it keep the stink away but it keeps you and your dog safe from any nasty bugs. Make sure you also keep inside living areas clean. This includes areas where your dog sleeps and plays. Remember, infections can be transmitted when your dog rubs his butt on your couch or carpet.

3. Wash your dog in his own bath

Here’s an area we often don’t think about. It seems so much easier just to wash your dog in the kitchen sink or your own bath. However, this is another way infection can be transmitted from dogs to humans. Get your dog his own bathtub or wash him outdoors under the hose. You could also send him to a professional pet groomer whenever he needs a bath.

4. Keep your dog away from the kitchen

Another area where infection can take place is in the kitchen especially when you’re handling food. Keep it hygienic and keep your dog out of the kitchen whenever you’re preparing food. If your pooch does like to be with you while you’re making dinner, then make sure you don’t touch him while handling food.

5. Watch the kids closely

No matter how hard you try to keep your home clean, there’s always going to be germs lurking around. Watch your kids closely when they’re in the garden or playing on the floor with your dog. Kids love to kiss doggies and they’re always putting dirty fingers into their mouths. They’ll even join in when fur-baby is having dinner. These are all ways you kids can pick up a stomach bug from your dog.

On that note, if you have a baby in the house, you should never let your dog lick their face as the saliva can make them sick.


It kind of makes sense now why my grandma would tick me off for letting the dog lick my face. She could never tell me why I shouldn’t allow it though! Us dog owners love to cuddle with our dogs But, how hygienic is this behavior?

Well, not very as we can see – and it carries the risk, that yes, you might catch a stomach virus from your dog.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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