Now that cold and flu season has arrived, you might be asking if dogs can get the flu as well. For those who are concerned about their dogs catching the flu from them, rest assured, it is highly unlikely. There are some canine viruses that cause flu-like symptoms in dogs, but cross-species viruses are rare. To help you better understand why your dog is safe regardless of how sick you may feel, continue reading more about the interaction between the human flu and dog illnesses below.
A Quick Overview of Influenza (Flu) Viruses
Influenza comes in four different virus forms: A, B, C, and D. Humans can get A-C, and dogs are reported to get only A. There are two main influenza A viruses that infect dogs.
H3N8 and H3N2 are the names of these two canine stains. These illnesses originated in horses and spread to dogs; they can now spread from dog to dog. There has never been a report, however, of these viruses spreading from dogs to humans.
So, can dogs get the flu from you? The short answer is no. Viruses are highly mutable; they go through many mutation processes throughout the year. This is how humans become infected with novel viruses like swine flu and bird flu. Dogs can become infected when the virus mutates in you and is able to cross species, but the occurrence of this is low.
Can Dogs Get the Flu Like I Do?
While a dog is not going to get the flu from you, they can get the flu from other dogs. Canine flu functions the same as human flu viruses. They tend to spread in a seasonal fashion. Canine influenza A is very contagious. You may want to think twice about bringing Spot to the dog park if you have heard about other dogs getting sick.
Canine influenza is not dangerous for most full-grown dogs. Canine influenza can be dangerous for:
- Elderly dogs
- Dogs undergoing cancer treatment
- Dogs that are otherwise unhealthy
Canine flu can be dangerous for puppies because their immune systems have not been fully developed yet. If you believe that your dog is sick with the flu, you should call your vet for advice on how to treat your sick animal.
Symptoms and Precautions of the Flu
Again, if you believe your pet is ill, give the vet a call. Your dog will have flu symptoms that mirror human symptoms. They will also have discharge from their eyes and nose. Overall, they will be:
Coughing from the flu can remain in dogs for up to a month after the flu virus has been beaten. You can take your pet to the vet to be sure that a bacterial infection has not set into the lungs.
If you have other dogs or pets in your home, you will want to be sure that they don’t get sick as well. Be sure that you separate their feeding stations. You may also want to gate off the ill animal, but be sure that your sick animal is still getting the appropriate amount of attention they need while they are being quarantined.
It is important to note that the H3N2 version of the canine flu can infect cats. Be sure to safeguard your cats and dogs from the infected animal. Cats have not yet been widely affected, so it is reasonable to say that the virus has not successfully mutated to cause an endemic among cats. But, it is still something to be aware of if you have cats in the same house with a sick dog.
Caring for Your Sick Dog
There are many great ways to care for your sick dog. The way that you choose will depend on convenience and how sick they are. Some dogs can get very anxious and upset when they are not feeling right. Once you have determined that your dog has the flu, you can do the following.
Keep Your Dog Calm and Relaxed
When your dog is sick, it is vital to make sure that they know that everything will be all right. You should speak to them in a calming and relaxing voice. Even though they may not fully understand, you can tell them that you love them and that you care about them. They will feel loved and appreciated, and that will help them to feel better.
If your dog is cooped up in the house all day with low energy, make an effort to spend some time with them when you get home. It may not be the most fun playtime you have ever had, but at least sit and spend time with them, so they feel secure and loved.
If your dog is feeling well enough to leave the house, try not to introduce them to new pets or people. Stay away from other pets during the course of their sickness and immediately after. Your dog could infect them with the flu as well. Just like they say at work, if you are sick, stay home.
In addition to quality time and affection, you can play soothing music for your dog while you are not home to help them relax.
Make Sure They Are Comfortable
The most important thing to remember here is to make sure that your dog does not become dehydrated. They will feel worse if they are not drinking enough water. If they refuse to drink, you can wet their gums with a damp cloth or see if they will lick ice cubes. In the case that your dog is drinking, you will have to bring them to the bathroom more often than usual.
If your dog has been vomiting, you will want to reintroduce bland foods between 12 and 24 hours after the last event. You can give them things like boiled chicken, rice, or potatoes; do not season this food. You can also try giving them reduced portions of their regular diet. Once you give them a bit of food, wait 30 minutes to see if they can keep it down. If the vet has given you medication to give to your dog, give it to them with their food if they have been vomiting.
Your dog will need a comfortable and clean place to sleep. You can wrap your dog in a blanket if they are cold or put a fan on them if they are hot.
If they are unable to use the bathroom outside, you can use a changeable puppy pad. In this case, you will want to make sure your dog is clean as well. You can bathe them gently with warm water and soap to be sure that they are not covered in their own excretions.
The Bottom Line: Dogs and the Flu
Can dogs get the flu? Yes, they can. However, it is rare that they catch their flu from humans. If your dog is sick, take care of them as you would a human child. Call the vet, make sure they are comfortable, and keep them hydrated and clean. If you have any stories about a sick pup you would like to share or tips that helped you cope with your dog’s sickness, leave them in the comment section below!