Cat & Dog Flu – What You Need To Know
Every time around this year, we start to see advertisements and posts reminding us that flu season is coming around, which had us wondering – can our cats and dogs catch the flu?
Well, yes, and no. If you have a sore throat and runny nose, you can’t pass on the human influenza virus onto your furry friends, but dogs and cats do both have their strains of canine and feline influenza, respectively. Likewise, they can’t spread their influenza through to us, so there’s no need to panic or quarantine them from the human family.
How is it spread?
Canine and feline influenza is spread through airborne droplets in the air, and contaminated objects like water bowls, collars or kennel surfaces.
What are the symptoms?
We all know the feeling of an oncoming cold: scratchy throat, fever, feeling out of balance. With our pets, it’s no different, but because they can’t communicate how they’re feeling there are some signs you have to look out for.
Loss of appetite
Rapid or difficult breathing
Loss of appetite
Mouth or eye ulcers
Discharge from the eyes
Loss of voice
It’s best to take your pet to the vet if they are showing symptoms of canine or feline influenza. Whilst not always deadly, your pets can get a lot worse before they get better, and won’t understand why. This might then cause them to go through mood changes and behaviour problems while also being sick.
How are canine and feline influenza treated?
Just like us, your pet can benefit from bed rest, fresh drinking water and getting the right nutrients in their diet, but your veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics, pain medication or eye drops to help alleviate the symptoms and fight off infection.
Some extra tips:
If you have multiple pets, it’s best to isolate them for 14-21 days, and wash your hands and change your clothes in between taking care of the sick and healthy animals.
Keep them drinking from a fresh metal or ceramic water bowl because plastic can absorb and cause a recurring infection.
If you can, try and reduce the need for your pet to bark or meow to prevent further strain on their throat.
Vaccinate your pets in advance. Whilst not always 100% effective, dog and cat vaccinations prevent most strains of canine and feline influenza and are great if you have multiple pets in the same household.
Is there a difference between Kennel Cough and Canine Flu?
While both Kennel Cough and Canine Flu are highly contagious between dogs, Kennel Cough is a term used to describe multiple viruses and bacterial infections, whereas Canine Flu is specific to two strains of the influenza virus that are only contagious to dogs. Both Canine Flu and Kennel Cough present themselves the same way, only your dog will tend to cough a lot more if it’s the latter and their treatment from the vet might look a little different.
How can I prevent my cat/dog from getting sick?
Check your local vet to see if there have been any local cases and avoid going out there, make sure your friends’ pets aren’t infected before a playdate and keep on top of your pet’s diet with Hypro Premium nutritional cat and dog food, and daily exercise to keep them in optimal health. In fact, healthy animals will recover quicker from influenza and might not even show symptoms at all!