Influenza is sweeping across the nation like a wildfire. It is hitting people hard this flu season. Hospitals have put up flu restrictions, schools attendance percentage have gone down, people are missing work because of it. The CDC reports that between October 2019 and January 25, 2020 there have been between 19 million and 26 million reported cases of flu illnesses. Not only that but there have been 8.6 million to 12 million doctor visits, 180,000- 310,000 hospitalizations, and about 10,000 deaths due to the flu. The flu is no joke, and has some people down and out for one to two weeks with symptoms.
Now if you have a furry friend at home with you while sick you may be inclined to want to snuggle and love all over your pet to help you feel better. Sadly, don’t. Your dog can catch the flu from you. You cannot catch illnesses from your pet, and common colds cannot be passed from you to your pet. But the flu certainly can get passed from human to pet. It is not unheard of for there to be animal to human diseases passed around, examples the swine flu or bird flu.
Once your pet contracts the virus from you it turns into the dog flu. This is different than the human flu, so your dog cannot pass the dog flu to humans. So what it is about human flu that can get passed to your dog is not quite understood. Dogs then can pass the dog flu virus among each other. It is very contagious just like human flu. The dog flu is passed between dogs from dogs sneezing, coughing, or barking at each other in close proximity. If your dog is just outside in your fenced in backyard barking at the dog down the street it is more than likely that your pet cannot pass or get the dog flu from that other dog down the street. It mostly affects dogs that spend a lot of time at dog parks, doggy day cares, kennels, or being boarded.
If your dog becomes ill they may show symptoms. Your dog may have a persistent cough, sneezing, high fever, loss of appetite, or eye discharge. Some dogs though show now signs or symptoms. If you suspect that your dog may be sick you will want to get them to your vet. The vet may give them IV fluids if they are showing signs of dehydration from not eating well. In most cases though dogs don’t need any intervention medically. They just need rest and water. The sickness can last in dogs from about 2-3 weeks so don’t be alarmed if it takes that long for your dog to bounce back to his normal self. Your vet will give you advice on how long to keep your dog quarantined.
To protect yourself and your dog make sure you practice cleanliness like normal. Make sure you wash your hands when sick after being around your dog. Try to keep your dog from licking you in the face. If you or your dog have immune disorders it can make you or your dog getting sick way easier. Unlike humans though most dogs don’t get a vaccine for the dog flu. Mostly because the chances of them coming in contact with the virus is very unlikely.
Though you can pass the flu virus onto your dogs it usually isn’t harmful for your pet. The death rate is less than 10% of dogs that contract the virus. Usually your dog will get over the virus without intervention. In rare cases your dog may develop a secondary sickness which can cause problems but this doesn’t usually happen. If your dog starts to show signs of sickness then you will want to get them to the vet to make sure they are alright. Dogs that spend a lot of time around other animals you may want to think about getting them vaccinated with the dog flu vaccine to decrease their chances of getting the dog flu.
The flu isn’t the only thing you can pass to your dog. There are other diseases you can pass to your pet. Diseases such as Mumps, Ringworm, Salmonella, Giardia, MRSA, and lyme disease. So when you are sick don’t think the best thing to do is to snuggle up with your dog. Make sure you are washing your hands a lot when you are sick or before contact with your pet to help cut down on bacteria being spread between you and your pet. Keep your pet away from other animals either in your home or at dog parks, or kennels if they have flu symptoms. Since there is no real way to prevent your dog from getting the dog flu make sure you keep your dog away from places that have had reported cases of the dog flu. Try to keep yourself and your pet healthy this flu season.