What Are the Most Common Diseases Pets Can Catch from Wild Animals?

When your pet comes into contact with wild animals, you may be worried about all of the diseases that your pet could potentially contract from them. Some of these diseases are readily preventable with certain steps and some are not preventable and can cause death. That is why it is so important to be aware of the various diseases that wild animals can spread to your pets. Continue reading to learn about some of the more common diseases.

domestic cat next to wild animal trap

Dead Animals

This first paragraph is more of a general item to be aware of than any particular disease. It is important to realize that dead animals can spread diseases to your dog or cat. There are all kinds of diseases that can be spread by dead animals, such as bacterial infections, tularemia, leptospirosis, and even rabies, as these diseases often persist a long time after an animal has died. If you believe your pet has come into contact with an animal, dead or alive, it is important to be sure you pay attention to any potential health complications, both for you and your pet’s sake.

Rabies
Raccoon
Rabies is obviously one of the most common diseases that wild animals can spread to your pets. While animals like rats and mice are not known to spread rabies, almost every other wild animal can spread rabies to your pet. Luckily, rabies is an easily preventable disease, as a simple series of vaccinations throughout your pet’s life will keep them protected from this nasty viral infection of the brain. In unvaccinated pets, rabies will eventually cause death, as there is a slow progression of the illness until the pet is driven mad. At this point, the pet can even attack its owners and can spread rabies to them. As can be seen, rabies is a very serious disease that can be easily prevented by simple vaccinations. It is important to have pets vaccinated for rabies since many bites and scratches that wild animals inflict on your pet may go unnoticed by humans, giving you no warning as to the potential for rabies. Once you notice your pet is sick, it could be too late.
Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is a very serious illness that can be spread to your dogs and cats from wild animals. This disease is a bacterial infection that can cause a whole host of nasty issues in humans, potentially being fatal. While many dogs and cats will not exhibit serious symptoms or health complications from leptospirosis, some could potentially have health problems because of it. In fact, this disease is easily spread by dogs and cats to the humans they live around, as the bacteria spreads very easily through an animal’s urine. This can generally be treated, though it may take some time for the complications to pass.
Tularemia
Squirrel Foraging
This bacterial infection is found in a variety of wild animals that can easily spread this illness to pets and humans alike. Tularemia is often carried by rodents, rabbits, squirrels, and many other small game animals. This infection is most often spread through direct contact with an animal through a bite, contaminated water, or even inhalation of bacteria, from both dead and alive animals that were infected. There are very few cases throughout the United States in a year, but it can be a very serious disease if not treated quickly. Again, one of the biggest concerns is the spreading of these diseases from your pet to you or your family.
Plague
Yep, the plague. It might be surprising, but the plague can spread to your dogs and cats by the bite of a flea. Fleas often carry the germ known as yersinia pestis. When your pets have fleas, the plague can easily be spread to pets. Luckily, the plague is treatable with antibiotics, but it is important to stay vigilant in protecting yourself and your pets from this disease. One of the biggest risks involving the plague is that it can be spread to humans through their pets. Humans will experience abscesses and other nasty symptoms but can be treated if you act quickly.

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Rat-bite Fever
Rat in the Snow
Due to its name, it is likely that you can guess how your dog or cat can contract rat-bite fever from wild animals. Rats and mice carry this bacteria and can easily spread it to pets and humans through direct bites or scratches. This disease can be contracted by cats and dogs, which, in turn, can spread to humans quite easily. This disease can be serious if it is not treated, potentially causing death to pets and humans. It might be hard to tell if your pet has rat-bite fever because many times cats and dogs do not show symptoms of getting the bacterial infection.
Salmonellosis

Salmonella is commonly known for causing food poisoning in a wide variety of food products throughout the United States every year. This bacteria can cause serious illness, if not death if it gets severe enough. Generally, the way that salmonellosis is contracted by humans and pets, is if they come into contact with any areas where rodents or other critters have eaten, drank, urinated, or defecated. It is important to keep on guard for any signs of salmonella infections, as young children, elderly people, and people with weak immune systems can die from a small case of salmonella bacteria. Pets can spread this disease to you and your family easily, as they get their slobber all over you and your house.
Lyme Disease
Tick on Blade of Grass
Lyme disease is more of a concern for the owners of cats and dogs, as the animals do not seem to be directly affected by this disease. When a pet comes into contact with a wild animal, it is possible that a tick will make its way from the animal to your pet, and this tick could potentially be a tick carrying Lyme disease. This is a very serious illness in humans, causing all kinds of problems that can be very serious. It is important to always check your pets for ticks if they have come into contact with wild animals.
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