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Pets Can Catch Flu, But Different Strain

January 18, 2013, 5:54 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Pets Can Catch Flu, But Different Strain

For those with pets, they're part of the family, which may have you wondering whether they also share in sickness?  When it comes to the flu, dogs can, but it's a different form of influenza.

"Dogs cannot transfer that to humans and humans cannot transfer that back to dogs.  It is a completely separate virus," Veterinarian Mark Braunschmidt said.

While the flu is different for people and dogs, keeping it from spreading is quite similar.  In fact, if you believe your dog is sick, you're advised to keep them at home.

"We need to have owner protection in that fact that if your dog is sick, if your dog is having a running nose, if your dog is coughing, please stay away from those public areas.  That is not safe for the rest of the public or those other dogs," Braunschmidt said.

Braunschmidt of Horizon Pet Car in Brandon says flu vaccines are available for dogs, but they're not typically given in South Dakota because the risk of canine influenza is relatively low.  Flu season for dogs is year-round.  Right now 39 states have confirmed cases, but South Dakota does not.  However, if your dog is tired, doesn't eat or drink and coughs, it is time for medical help.

"When you take them in to your veterinarian, let them know that your dog is coughing so they can have an exam room that is dedicated to sick animals only with upper respiratory infections to protect the rest of the population that  comes in and out of the hospital," Braunschmidt said.

If your pets are having stomach issues, it is most likely a bacterial infection and not influenza.  The flu can be deadly for dogs, and like people, is hardest for young pups and elderly dogs to recover from. 

CDC Canine Influenza Information

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