Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only beings susceptible to the flu. Your dog can get it too—but luckily there are plenty of ways to ensure your furry friend stays healthy and safe.
Canine influenza virus H3N2 can be transmitted “when dogs are barking, sneezing, or even playing with the same toy.” —Michael Topper, American Veterinary Medical Association president
First things first: Because canine influenza is different than the human version of the illness, you don’t have to worry about getting each other sick. Dog-to-dog (or dog-to-cat!) transmission, on the other hand, is worth your concern though: Michael Topper, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), told Time it can happen “when dogs are barking, sneezing, or even playing with the same toy.” So just how widespread is this doggy disease?
There have been confirmed cases of canine influenza virus H3N2 in California, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan in the past 45 days, according to data from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. But the stats aren’t necessarily cause for alarm—it’s just good to be aware and take necessary precautions.
Since dog flu isn’t just a seasonal thing, Topper recommends keeping your eyes open for symptoms—fever, runny nose, cough, low energy, and reduced appetite—year-round. Basically, the signs of a flu-stricken pup mirror a version of what you would experience with the same ailment. Also similarly, the sooner you catch the problem, the easier it is to treat.
While most dogs are back to normal within a few weeks, others have complications—particularly if they’re young, old, or have other health issues—putting them at a higher risk of death: “Some get a more severe form, with a higher fever and signs of pneumonia,” Topper said.
To ease your pup-parent worry meter, there’s a vaccine your vet can administer to protect your pet against the known strands. It’s an especially smart precaution to take if your dog spends time with pooch peers. And while you’re at it, stay healthy by snaggin a vaccination for yourself too (and smile through it!).