A woman washing her hands in the sink.

Should I Wash My Hands After Petting My Dog?

2 mins |

Cuddles, belly rubs, and ear scratches with our furry friends are all part of the joys of owning a dog! But how do we ensure we don’t become ill after petting our dogs? In other words, should you wash your hands after petting your dog, for example?

Always wash your hands after any contact with your dog or their belongings, especially after picking up their poop and even with gloves on. Dogs can be a source of microorganisms that are harmful to humans.

Why Should I Wash My Hands After Petting My Dog?

A man washing his hands in the sink.
Washing your hands is a good idea anyway.

As much as we love our dogs, they can be a source of potentially harmful microorganisms.

Examples Of Harmful Microorganisms

Some diseases which you can catch from your pet include:

  • Ringworm
  • Brucellosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Campylobacteriosis

The symptoms of the above diseases vary from mild gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea and cramps) to skin changes. Don’t worry, a human doctor can usually diagnose them and prescribe medicine to treat them.

If you suspect you have caught an infection from your pet, contact your doctor immediately. 

How To Reduce Risks

Here are some tips to help reduce the chance of becoming unwell:

  • Don’t let your dog kiss your face (or kiss theirs).
  • Don’t let your dog sleep in your bed.
  • Always pick up your dog’s poop promptly.
  • Wash your dog’s bedding and bowls frequently.
  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations and parasite control up to date.
  • Take your dog for regular health checks with its veterinarian.
  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap after contact with your dog or their belongings (or after picking up their poop, even with gloves on!).

Conclusion: Should I Wash My Hands After Petting My Dog?

To reduce the chances of catching something from your pet, always wash your hands using soap and warm water after petting them!

Before you start to worry, remember that every day we come into contact with potential disease-causing microorganisms. The thing to remember is you can easily help reduce risks by adopting good hygiene habits! 

So, what do you think about washing your hands after petting your dog? Let us know your thoughts and why in the comments below!

Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte Stiles
Charlotte is a final-year veterinary medicine student at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She has been a volunteer at her university's clinic for 4 years, and completed internships in Spain, Belgium, and Austria. She is also an editor of her university's scientific journal, and dog mum to 13-year-old Chiki, who she rescued from a shelter.