Can dogs get the flu? Cats too?


We know Fido and Fluffy tend to get sick once in a while–usually, it’s from eating something they shouldn’t have. But new research proves that our pets can get the influenza virus just like us, and the sickness can even be passed between humans and animals.

Scientists have known since the 1970s that cats can get the flu (along with other funny cat facts). A Fox News article reports that 30% of cats in Ohio were found to have been infected with the flu at some point (including the H1N1 strain). They also suggest that infection rates have been increasing since 2009. Researchers at the Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine are conducting a survey of feline blood samples across the U.S. These samples will provide unprecedented detail of exactly how often cats get infected.


And can dogs get the flu too?


Yes, according to research since 2000. Dogs tend to be more resilient to the infection than cats, but they certainly do get sick. Animals have the same symptoms humans do: fever, muscle soreness, fatigue, and respiratory problems. And as with humans, the flu can be deadly to animals with weak immune systems, the old and the young, especially in cats.

The possibility of flu strains jumping from owner to pet or back is particularly worrisome to scientists. There have been 13 confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus being transmitted to pets during the 2009 pandemic. Whenever a disease crosses species, it has the potential to mutate into possibly more dangerous strains. It also means the disease can be spread more widely and quickly.


What can I do?


Can dogs get the flu?

While it may be tempting to snuggle with your pooch or kitty when you’re feeling sick, remember that they can catch it too. If you have the flu, take precautions to keep the virus to yourself and away from other humans and animals. Stay home for the first few days or until the worst has passed. Isolate from the rest of your household anything that touches your hands or face such as glasses, napkins or tissues, and wash your hands frequently. Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place.

Your pets–and fellow humans–will thank you!