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  • Kelly Daniel

Canine and Feline Flu

This week flu has struck the Kling house. It started with a call from the nurse at Wrights Mill Road Elementary; letting me know that my nine-year-old, Katie, said her throat hurt and that she didn’t feel well. I got her home and in bed and decided, to err on the side of caution and make an appointment with her doctor. By the time we got to the office, you could look at her and tell she had a fever. One nose swab later and my worst fears were confirmed. Flu. The next day just after lunch I started feeling a little off, and immediately ran for urgent care to get a diagnosis of my own. We’ve both been down for a couple of days. But because we both were vaccinated early this flu season, the worst of it was alleviated. Effects were mild, and were gone rapidly. Because everyone else in our house also got their flu shots, they seem to have gotten lucky and avoided it altogether (knock on wood). If you haven’t yet gone to get your flu shot, go now. Get vaccinated, folks.

Just like people, our pets are also susceptible to their own versions of the flu.

Our doggie friends can catch "canine influenza," which just like the human version; not only makes them feel bad, but can be dangerous to them.

Just like when people get the flu, you can expect your dog to sneeze, have a runny nose, and cough. Your dog may also be tired and not have his usual appetite. Some dogs also can have a fever of 104-106 F. Canine influenza can cause more serious illness than the average respiratory infection. In some cases, this type of flu can turn into pneumonia. At that point, the disease becomes more dangerous. Puppies and older dogs are more likely to get severely ill once they’re infected.

Dog flu is very contagious. Your pup can catch it when an infected dog sneezes or coughs on him. Since the virus also can live on objects, he could get it by putting an infected ball or toy into his mouth.

It's possible for people to give their dogs the virus, too. If an infected dog coughs or sneezes on you, the virus can survive on your skin for 2 minutes and for a day or longer on your clothes -- and then it could be passed on to another dog. Just like people, dogs need rest and fluids. Make sure your pet has a quiet, comfortable place to recover and plenty of water to drink. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if your dog gets a bacterial infection along with the flu.

If your pet shows any signs that he’s sick, it’s important to keep him away from other dogs. Avoid dog parks, kennels, or any other place where he’ll be around a lot of other dogs, Adalja says. Most dogs get better in 2-3 weeks.

If you live in an area where there has been an outbreak of dog flu, or your pet often comes into close contact with other dogs, it might be a good idea for them to get vaccinated.

Talk to your veterinarian and see if he or she recommends it.

Cats can be infected with influenza viruses, including avian influenza viruses, and can spread influenza viruses to each other (cat-to-cat). Influenza in cats is thought to spread the same way that human flu spreads: through direct contact (playing or sleeping together, licking, nuzzling); through the air (droplets made from coughing or sneezing, including nasal discharge); and via contaminated surfaces (such as shared food and water bowls, cage surfaces). Some scientific studies suggest that it is not uncommon for people to infect cats with seasonal influenza viruses. Less is known about the risk of an infected cat spreading flu to people. Influenza infection in cats has generally resulted in mild illness in cats. What is more commonly called the “flu” in cats is actually an upper respiratory infection

A cat’s upper respiratory tract-the nose, throat and sinus area-is susceptible to infections caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. By far, viruses are the most common causes and are prevalent in shelters, catteries and multi-cat households. These viruses can be transmitted from cat to cat through sneezing, coughing, or while grooming or sharing food and water bowls.

Symptoms differ depending on the cause and location of the infection, but some common signs

of upper respiratory problems in cats include:

Sneezing

Congestion

Runny nose

Cough

Clear to colored nasal discharge

Gagging, drooling

Fever

Loss of or decreased appetite

Nasal and oral ulcers

Squinting or rubbing eyes

It’s important to bring your cat to a veterinarian if you think she may be suffering from an

upper respiratory infection. A brief exam by a veterinarian will help to determine if your cat

requires medication, has a fever or is dehydrated. Avoid self-diagnosis, since your cat may be

infectious and require isolation, antibiotics or additional veterinary care.

To prevent your cat from getting upper respiratory infections:

Keep your cat indoors to minimize the risk of exposure to infected animals.

Properly isolate infected cats to protect other pets living in the same environment.

Minimize stress.

Keep your cat up to date on vaccines as recommended by your vet. Vaccines for upper

respiratory disease in cats may not actually prevent infection, but they help lessen the severity

of the disease in some cases.

Make sure your cat receives regular veterinary exams. Preventive care can help catch and treat

problems early. A cat’s best defense against upper respiratory infection is a healthy immune

system.

Practice good hygiene and wash your hands thoroughly when handling multiple cats.

Weekly Wish: Lee County Humane Society has partnered with Woof Avenue to collect supplies for those affected by Hurricane Michael. We are specifically asking for garbage bags, high quality breathing masks, heavy duty or rubber gloves, shovels, tarps, brooms, cleaning wipes, batteries, camp stoves and propane for them, paper plates, disposable plates and utensils, baby wipes, diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, conditioner, soap, feminine hygiene products, sunscreen, bug spray, adult diapers, toothbrushes, tooth paste, and hand sanitizer. Please drop off all donations by the 24th at the shelter at 1140 Ware Drive, Auburn; or Woof Avenue at 1027 Opelika Rd Suite A, Auburn.


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Auburn, AL | lchs1140@leecountyhumane.org | 334-821-3222

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