This article originally appeared on my ongoing series of articles for Flexcin International, Inc as Can Dogs Get The Flu?
Flu season is upon us. Since many forms of the Influenza virus exist there is no one vaccine available to prevent all flu viruses from infecting us. Similarly, our pets are exposed to a variety of infectious organisms, including the Influenza virus, from both people and other pets. This may leave you wondering, can my dog catch my flu? Yes, your pet could get your sickness this flu season.
Dogs can be infected with Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) or Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPV), for which vaccinations are available.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, or other agents (prions, such as those that cause Mad Cow Disease) all have zoonotic potential, meaning they can spread between animals and humans, or vice versa.
Although it is relatively uncommon for animals to contract viral or other infectious organisms from humans, it does happen. A specific example of this occurrence was in 2009 when humans contracted H1N1 (swine flu) influenza virus from swine (pigs), pets were then sickened after contracting the H1N1 from people. Ferrets and cats were the most adversely affected with numerous deaths; most dogs survived the flu.
It’s important to note that there were no reported cases of pets infecting their human owners with H1N1, nor was there transmission from pet to pet. Should the H1N1 virus become capable of horizontal transmission (between members of the same species), then large numbers of dogs and cats could become infected.
Places where animals are contained in close quarters (kennels, boarding facilities, hospitals, etc.) are capable of becoming “hot zones” for the spread of zoonotic diseases.
Dogs can be infected with Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) or Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPV), for which vaccinations are available. It is still relatively uncommon for the average house dog to receive the vaccine for CIV because most dogs just won’t be exposed to it. It is much more common for dogs to receive the vaccine for CPV, as it is included in the DA2PP vaccination given during puppyhood and at three-year intervals during adulthood. In fact, the DA2PP vaccine helps to protect against multiple agents that infect the canine respiratory tract (Distemper and Parainfluenza) along with other potentially fatal illnesses of other organ systems (Adenovirus 2 and Parvovirius affecting the liver and gastrointestinal tract, respectively).
Juvenile, geriatric, and pets having compromised immune systems are more prone to contracting infectious diseases. Pets suffering from cancer or immune mediated (i.e. autoimmune) diseases may not be able to fight off infection as well as a dog with a healthy immune system.
If your cat or dog shows clinical signs of a respiratory tract illness (cough, sneeze, nasal discharge, lethargy, etc.), schedule an examination with your veterinarian. Otherwise, have your pet examined by your veterinarian at least every 12 months for an annual wellness exam. Sick and geriatric (older than seven years) canine and feline companions should be examined more frequently, approximately every six months.
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Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.