Can Your Dog Get the Flu and What Can You Do About It?

Yes, your dog can come down with the flu; and it is surprisingly similar to ours.

It’s bad enough on my caring wife when she has to take care of me when I get the flu, but what does she have to do when our dog comes down with it? Well, she sure will have an easier time because my dog is a lot more of a man than me.

Is Dog Flu For Real?

Just as we have heard of bird flu and swine flu, it seems these dog flus have come from other animals first. There are two different viruses that can cause the dreaded dog flu, according to Petmd.com. One is called H3N8 and comes from an equine virus from among American horses. The other, called H3N2, comes from birds and has also shown up in some cats. The latter one is causing the most concern lately.

Similar Symptoms

Since your dog can’t just tell you he or she feels bad like I do over and over to my wife, you have to be on the lookout for symptoms. A cough, similar to and sometimes falsely attributed to Kennel cough, will at times be accompanied by a fever that could last one to three weeks. Also, look for a decreased appetite, lethargy, and a greenish discharge from the nose and eyes. Though your dog will usually muddle through it as we do, if there are pre-existing or underlying medical conditions, then seek immediate help from your vet, as these symptoms can lead to many other diseases which can be even more serious than the flu.

Treat Me Like A Dog

Treating your dog that has the flu is pretty similar to how my wife treats me, except I get the chicken soup and he gets way more belly rubs. Keep your dog quiet, warm, close by, and keep an eye on him—he should be okay soon. If your dog has pre-existing conditions or is in his senior years, you may need to seek a veterinarian’s help.

It’s a Catchy One

It’s very contagious to other dogs, as about 80% of dogs who come into contact with the virus get sick, as stated by Dr. Bridget Schuler, Medical Director of Banfield Pet Hospital in Colorado in a recent Denver Post article. Just as we catch it at school, the gym, or work, dogs are highly likely to come into contact with the virus at kennels, doggie daycares, the groomers, or the dog park. They can be contagious for up to three weeks, and since they need rest just as we do, it’s best to keep them home for a while.

Catchy for Who?

I know I blame a lot of things on our dog but getting the flu from him is not going to fly. While the dog flu can be very contagious to other dogs, your pooch will not give you the flu. Their flu viruses are slightly different, so Fido cannot get you sick, and conversely, you are not going to infect Fido.

Shots For Everyone

There is an influenza shot for dogs just like humans have. The canine influenza vaccine is a bit different than ours, though, so don’t expect to be able to get your dog a shot the same time you do at your local drugstore. You’ll definitely need to chat with your veterinarian for this one. As with humans, dogs are less likely to get the flu if they’ve had the shot, and if they do get sick the symptoms should be less severe and recovery will be quicker. As to whether you wish to immunize your pooch, that is as personal as the decision we all make for ourselves; it’s up to you and your pet to decide.

Meet the Author: Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan is a full-time musician along with a humor, travel and outdoor recreation columnist. He's also an avid skier and golfer and has traveled extensively around the U.S, the Caribbean and Europe. His musical career takes him all over the U.S. and his wife drags him everywhere else. His weekly columns “The Life of Ryan” ran in the Transcript and Sentinel newspaper chain for several years and have been featured in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Mile High Magazine. He is the co-founder, editor and humor columnist for ColoradoLocalLegends.com and currently resides in Morrison, Colorado.

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