DON'T DOGS GET AS SICK AS PEOPLE?
We often hear in the news about people being harmed by contaminated
food or water. But other animals, including our family dog, can eat
or drink just about anything and apparently be unaffected.
will quickly snatch up discarded food on the streets, drink water from
dirty puddles and even eat wastes of other animals, all of which would
surely sicken any human. Yet our dog never catches a cold or the flu.
How is it pets and wild animals are immune?
A complete answer would require a long article that considered the different
evolutionary histories and physiological adaptations among species,
the countless types and origins of ailments and diseases as well as
our own perceptions about how other animals feel. But here are a few
to assume that other animals do not get sick is incorrect. Dogs and
many wild animals can get a host of diseases, including well-known ones
such as rabies, distemper and cancer.
can be sick without our knowing it and without complaining. Some may
hide away or simply remain immobile, so how would we know if they have
a headache? If you slept 12 to 14 hours a day like many dogs, would
people really know whether you were sick?
perspective, humans sometimes live under what we would consider unsanitary
conditions but do not get sick.
to countries without conventional sanitary conditions often get ill
from drinking tap water. Yet the native inhabitants are mostly unaffected
because they have become acclimated over their lifetime.
who grew up in a region with constant exposure to unhealthy living conditions
probably became sick at some point during childhood but developed immunity
to regional bacterial or viral infections.
recent news about contaminated water, the response to some contaminants
- for any animal, including people - cannot be corrected by early exposure.
Michigan, where children and adults drank lead-contaminated water, an
individual's health would get worse with continued exposure, not better.
historic example of heavy metal contamination was the mercury poisoning
in Minamata Bay in the mid-20th century when a Japanese chemical company
polluted the coastal waters.
of children and adults, as well as domestic pets and farm animals, died
or were seriously impaired by the steady consumption of mercury over
factor affecting whether an animal, including dogs and humans, gets
sick from certain diseases is simply whether living conditions are such
that contagious diseases can spread.
most wild animals do not live in high-density situations with others
of their species the way people do.
many ailments (colds, flu, intestinal disorders) people get that we
can directly attribute to exposure to other humans on airplanes, in
crowded stores, or on cruise ships. A family pet is seldom placed in
a crowded situation with other dogs.
the common ailments afflicting humans are contracted from other people.
Someone who was living alone in a cabin in the woods and never came
in contact with other humans would be unlikely to get sick from what
we consider everyday transmittable diseases.
injury, ingestion of something poisonous or genetic propensities toward
certain diseases such as muscular dystrophy or ALS, humans isolated
from other humans seldom get sick.
most dogs live relatively solitary lives and stay healthy, particularly
compared to overcrowded livestock.
has resulted in the extensive use of antibiotics to control contagious
diseases in cattle. Dogs in crowded conditions are more likely to get
and wild animals are not really any more immune from certain forms of
environmental contamination hazards than we are, although natural selection
has probably weeded out individuals that took ill and died from eating
like your dog comes from a lineage in which the survivors ate whatever
was available when they were puppies.
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