I know you've had a similar question before but I'm unsure about something.
A few days ago while out on his walk my dog picked up a heroin user's spoon,some cotton wool and a sticker saying something about 'Warning, syringes can damage your veins' wrapped up in tin foil. I think my dog may have had bleeding gums. Can a dog contract the human form of Hepatitis C and also pass it on to a person if the dog had or has bleeding gums.I asked an online vet and she said there is a small chance.This got me really scared. And I know HIV is a human virus but what if the dog's gums are bleeding? It's the fact he may have had bleeding gums that worries me.
Please can you advise me.
Dr. Marie replied:
Thank you for an interesting question.
It is virtually impossible for your dog to transmit HIV or Hep C to you, even if he did have bleeding gums.
These viruses are spread via direct contact with fresh fluid (usually semen, but blood is possible) from the infected person.
If a person reuses a needle that was originally used by someone with HIV, there is a risk that they could inject themselves with blood that is remaining in the needle. If there was spread of blood from the needle and into your veins then you could get the virus.
So, let's say that there *was* HIV or Hep C virus in the needle. The chances that blood from the needle mixed with blood from your dog's gums are really small. But, even if *did* happen, neither of these viruses can live in dog blood.
So, here is what would have to happen in order for you to get Hepatitis C or HIV in this situation:
1) There would have to be blood in the syringe.
2) There would have to be virus in the blood.
3) The blood would have had to mingle with fresh blood from your dog's gums.
4) IMMEDIATELY, the blood would have to be transferred to your blood stream.
I just did some research for you and could not find a single article where a dog transmitted hepatitis C or HIV to a person.
Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.
Thank you for your answer. I just wanted to check. What my dog had was a heroin users spoon wrapped in tin foil. Is he still safe?
Dear Dr Marie,
I forgot to ask does this mean that my dog can't be infected with the virus and be ill with Hepatitis C himself?
Sorry to bother you again.
Dr. Marie replied:
You're very welcome and you're definitely not a bother.
If a dog was to eat a significant amount of heroin it can definitely affect him. However, you would have been seeing neurological signs (dilated pupils, drunkenness, etc.) within minutes or hours of the ingestion.
It is quite unlikely that your dog ate enough for you to be worried about. In theory if he ate a large piece of tin foil it could cause an intestinal obstruction. But, if he simply picked up the spoon and tin foil then you really have nothing to worry about.
Dogs can't get HIV and they can't get hepatitis C. There is a form of hepatitis that dogs can get, but it is not the same as what humans can get.
Hope that clarifies things for you!
Dear DR. Marie,
Thank you so much your advice. You've been a real comfort and have relieved me of my worries.
Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.