I took my dog Birdie to the vet last week for a nail clipping when the vet asked me if I wanted to vaccinate my dog for the flu! I know it’s the time of year we humans take flu vaccines seriously, but dogs too? I declined and went home to research it a bit more. Can they really get the flu? If so, how? Where did it come from? Is it the same flu virus as humans? Here are some of the things I found out.
Can Dogs Catch the Flu?
Yes, they can catch the flu. There are two types of canine flu viruses. The first of these canine specific illnesses originated from horses and is called the H3N2 virus, otherwise known as the “horse flu.” The first dogs documented to catch the horse flu were back in 2004 and were primarily kenneled or sheltered greyhounds. Since then, that flu virus has adapted and another virus has taken shape called the H3N8, the “dog flu.” This virus jumps from dog to dog, and even some cats have been reported to catch this flu. Dogs and cats can also get sick from us, so it’s important to remember to be cautious around all of your family members when you’re feeling icky. Snuggling is ok, but make sure you don’t cough or sneeze in anyone’s face, and wash your hands before feeding.
How Can I Prevent My Fur Child From Getting Sick?
You can start by limiting the time they spend around other dogs. Since the virus is spread from coughing, sneezing, and panting it’s pretty much the only sure fired way to prevent it. Also, you could get your dog vaccinated. It is said to reduce the risk of them catching the flu, but still nothing is a guarantee. If you do frequent many dog parks, beaches, clubs, and malls 😉 it might be a good idea. Also make sure they get plenty of rest and proper nutrition to keep their little immune systems strong. They don’t have immune systems like we do, so if you have older or sickly dogs and you do frequent many dog populated areas, getting your pup vaccinated may be a very good idea.
What Are Dog Flu Symptoms and How Do I Treat Them?
Just like the flu in humans, the dog flu shows itself with a cough (wet or dry), wheezing, sneezing, watery eyes that look SO SAD, runny nose, lack of appetite, lethargy, and/or a fever. One way to tell if your pup has a fever is by checking their nose. A wet and cool nose is a healthy nose. Dry and warm could mean a fever. You can use a rectal thermometer to be sure. Note: You’d better have some favorite treats for them before, during, and after!
If your dog is not eating or drinking TAKE THEM TO THE VET. Like humans, dehydration can be deadly. Also a persistent cough or wheezing could be an indication that medication is needed. Usually though, all they need is some TLC and possibly a day or two in bed with mom or dad watching Lassie.
Stay well and prosper friends.
By Summer K.
About the Author
Summer is a life long pet owner, artist, and lover of nature/all things natural. She grew up in Southern California but recently moved to Vancouver, Canada with her husband, two children, and two dogs.