Can My Dog Catch the Flu?

Dogs can catch the flu

A question that pet owners often have is whether their dog is vulnerable to the flu. The answer is more complicated than a simple ‘yes’, but canines are able to catch the flu.

The strain of the flu that dogs are vulnerable to is Canine influenza A H3N2 virus which is appropriately called the ‘dog flu’. Unlike other flu strains that originated with animals, such as the bird flu, dog flu is not transmittable to humans.

So even though your best friend might be feeling under the weather you don’t need to be afraid of giving them a few extra cuddles and pets because you can’t catch the flu from them.

Dogs show many of the same symptoms as humans when they have the flu. They will often have a fever, a persistent cough, be lethargic, and excessive sneezing. Symptoms can last anywhere from 10 to 30 days, although fever and lethargy should not last more than ten days.

If your dog has a fever for more than 48 hours, you should call your vet. Any time you think your dog might be sick you should contact their vet, especially if they are coughing or there is discharge from their nose or eyes. These might be symptoms of the flu but could also be symptoms of other illnesses as well.

Dogs cannot catch human flu strains

Similarly to you not being able to catch the strains of flu your dog carries, your dog cannot catch human strains of the flu. So when your furry best friend wants to lay with you and give you some much-needed cuddles you don’t have to worry about getting them sick, too.

While your human caretakers and well-wishers are keeping their distance in order to avoid getting sick, your canine friend doesn’t have to worry about the same fate.

There are very few illnesses that can pass between dogs and humans. The most common illnesses that can be passed between humans and dogs are mumps, ringworm, salmonella, giardia, and MRSA.

With the exception of ringworm, all of these illnesses are pretty unusual and rare and are not typically something to be concerned about. Ringworm, despite the name suggesting otherwise, is a fungal infection that is easily treated through prescription anti-fungal ointment.

Cats are vulnerable to the flu, too

Similar to dogs, cats can catch the flu. There is a variant of the dog flu strain, H3N3 virus, that cats and dogs are both vulnerable to. It is very important that your cat is kept isolated from any dog that is suspected of having any form of the dog flu as the virus is more dangerous to cats.

As most cat owners are aware, cats are very good at hiding injury and illness from even their favorite people and they can get very sick before the symptoms are caught.

Don’t worry about your cat catching the flu from you, though. They are not able to catch human strains of the flu, either. Lucky them!

Dog flu is active in every state but Hawaii

The influenza virus travels quickly and can be found all across the country. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the dog flu virus is just as prevalent.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that evidence of the H3N2 & H3N3 viruses has been found in all 49 of the contiguous United States. Hawaii is the sole exception because it is an island. They have successfully avoided transmission of the virus to any animals on the island.

Vets will usually prescribe an antibiotic

Although there is no effective cure for any strain of the influenza virus there are treatments that can help symptoms and to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease to others.

A veterinarian might prescribe an antibiotic or other medications to help reduce fever, treat persistent cough, or to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other dogs or cats in the household.

As with humans, it is very important for your dog to take all medicines as prescribed, including finishing all of the antibiotics even once they start to show signs of feeling better. There are not currently preventative flu shots for dogs or cats.

Isolation is important to keep other pets from getting sick

While you might not be able to catch dog flu from your canine friend, other pets in the household are not so lucky. Dog flu is highly contagious to other dogs and can also be contagious to cats. Isolate any dog that is showing symptoms early to hopefully avoid the disease spreading.

As anyone with young children can tell you, having an illness spread through the house from person to person is chaotic and exhausting. Save yourself the headache by isolating any sick dogs early on.

Make sure to remember to provide food and water bowls just for the sick dog so there isn’t cross-contamination. It may be a good idea to lay down puppy training pads in case your dog isn’t feeling well enough to warn you when it’s time to go outside.

Keep them comfortable until they feel better

Watching our furry friends be sick and knowing you can’t fix it is hard. What you can do to help them feel better is to provide a warm, comfortable place for them to rest that is quiet and away from other pets.

Make sure that they are taking any medicine recommended by their vet and ensure they are staying hydrated.

It isn’t uncommon for a dog to lose their appetite when they are sick. Offer wet food if it is an option as it might be more enticing than dry food.

Don’t forget to check on them frequently. Dogs are social creatures and they will get lonely all by themselves.

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