Dogs can get human ailments

April 14, 2004

"Can dogs have allergies? Can they get other human ailments?" a reader asked recently. The answer to both questions is yes, they can.

Taking the second question first, there are a number of ailments that both humans and dogs contract, though not necessarily from one another.

Although there are too many to discuss here, I will name a few to give you an idea. Both humans and canines suffer from various organ diseases, such as heart, kidney, liver and pancreas. Both species are able to develop diabetes.

Each one of these organs can exhibit different diseases. I learned that dogs have tonsils when my first pet came down with tonsillitis. Since then I have discovered that dogs can have pituitary gland shutdown, as well as something that I haven't heard, as yet, that humans suffer from, bloat and gastric volvulus where the stomach swells and then flips over, strangling the blood flow and killing the dog unless immediate surgery is performed.


Allergies can be caused by a variety of substances from inhalants, like pollens, to contact dermatitis, such as irritating chemicals, in both humans and canines. In dogs, the common contact irritants are acids and alkalis, insecticides, detergents, solvents, soaps and petroleum by-products according to Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook. Dogs with fleas can become allergic to flea saliva and break out in a rash. Because of this reaction, there is a delay in healing after the fleas have been eliminated.

The flea and tick season is just around the corner and it pays to watch your dog for signs of itching distress.If routine scratching doesn't relieve the itch, the dog will often locate a table or bench or other objectwhere they can rub the itchy spot. This may cause open sores which will attract flies that lay eggs in the open lesions. Dogs have died from the poisons produced by the maggots.

Occasionally dogs become sensitized to flea powders and collars. If the skin is inflamed around the neck, it might be wise to give the dog a bath in mild dog shampoo and use another product that the veterinarian recommends. There are some oral medications that kill fleas or else sterilize the mature flea so it can't reproduce.

Both humans and canines can suffer from contact with poison ivy and poison oak. It is important to remember that even if your dog is immune to the irritants of these plants, the substances can rub off onto the dog's coat and infect you as you pet or groom the animal. Therefore, it is important to constantly walk your property and remove any poison ivy or oak plants that pop up. I say "constantly" because birds eat the berries and drop the seeds wherever they are, so the plants spring up quickly, especially in a good growing season.

I use a grubbing hoe and a "pooper scooper" (made to clean up after the dog), to lift the poisonous plants into a plastic bag. Then, with gloves on, I tie the bag closed.|3/16/04|***

Central Kentucky News Articles