The Flu: Not Just For Humans
According to news reports, this past flu season was a particularly bad one.
There have been a record numbers of hospitalizations and numerous deaths reported. Unfortunately, flu season isn’t limited to the human population. There has been an increase in dog influenza as well.
How can I tell if my dog has the flu?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your dog is sick. Many dogs instinctively try to hide the fact they’re sick because in the wild that could make them a target for predators.
The signs of flu in dogs can be similar to those found in humans. Your dog may start coughing. He may not be as interested in food as usual, or just generally lethargic. He may have a fever. A runny nose or discharge from his nose or eye, especially if it’s green, can signal the flu. He may just have a change of mood.
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, and especially if he has several symptoms, take him to the vet. The symptoms of dog flu are similar to those of kennel cough. You should have your vet check your dog out to diagnose exactly what his illness is, so he can receive the proper treatment.
How can I protect my dog?
Dog flu is very contagious. If your dog is exposed to the virus, it is very likely he’ll catch the flu.
The best prevention is to keep your dog away from infected dogs. If there is a dog flu outbreak in your area, keep him home from doggy daycare. Don’t go to groomers or dog parks. Keep your dog away from anywhere other dogs are, unless you are sure all the other dogs are healthy. If an infected dog coughs, sneezes, or even barks around your dog, your dog can inhale the virus and catch it.
Your dog can catch the virus by playing with the same toy as an infected dog. If another dog has come in contact with your dog’s toy, be sure to wash the toy before giving it to your dog.
You can pass the flu along to your dog. The flu virus can live on your skin and even your clothes. Be sure to watch your hands if you’ve been around an infected dog.
And, although, humans can’t catch the flu from dogs, dogs can catch the flu from humans. Stay away from your dog if you have the flu.
Although the flu is rarely fatal by itself, it can develop into pneumonia or other more serious illnesses. Dogs with “smashed in” faces like Pugs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, and Bulldogs can be more susceptible to any kind of respiratory illness, due to the anatomy of their faces. Senior dogs and puppies are also more likely to develop serious problems.
There is a flu vaccination available for dogs, however it is not recommended for every dog. Your vet can let you know if it is a good idea for your dog and your situation.
The flu is no fun for anyone. If you keep your dog away from infected dogs, you’ll greatly reduce the chance he’ll catch the flu. But if he does, let him take it easy, follow the vet’s instructions as you care for him, and be there for him while he rides it out. Before long he’ll be back to the furry friend you so enjoy.