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Blog Post: Can my dog get the flu or covid? | Pet Medicus

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Dogs can indeed contract the flu, specifically from influenza viruses that affect canines, such as the H3N2 and H3N8 strains. However, they cannot contract COVID-19, which is primarily a human virus caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Here, we will explore the risk, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options for canine influenza and clarify why dogs are not susceptible to COVID-19.

Canine influenza, often referred to as the dog flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A viruses. These viruses can infect dogs of all ages and breeds. While the symptoms of canine influenza are similar to those of human flu, they do not pose a direct threat to humans. Dogs infected with the flu may exhibit symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, fever, and reduced appetite. In severe cases, it can progress to pneumonia, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

The virus spreads among dogs through respiratory secretions and contaminated surfaces, making it highly contagious in areas with a large dog population, such as boarding facilities, dog parks, and shelters. To prevent the spread of canine influenza, it is advisable to vaccinate your dog, especially if they are at higher risk due to their environment or interactions with other dogs. Canine influenza vaccines are available and can provide protection against both H3N2 and H3N8 strains.

If your dog shows symptoms of the flu, it is essential to isolate them from other dogs to prevent further transmission and seek veterinary care. Treatment typically includes supportive care, such as rest, fluids, and medications to alleviate symptoms. In severe cases, hospitalized care may be necessary.

In contrast to canine influenza, dogs cannot contract COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, primarily spreads from person to person. Although there have been isolated cases of pets, including dogs, testing positive for the virus, these instances are rare and typically involve pets in close contact with COVID-19-infected individuals. These pets often show no symptoms or mild, transient illness.

Scientists believe that while pets like dogs can carry the virus on their fur or skin, their role in spreading COVID-19 is minimal. The risk of a pet transmitting the virus to a human is considered low, and there have been no confirmed cases of pets serving as a significant source of infection for humans.

To safeguard both your pet and yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is advisable to maintain good hygiene practices, including washing your hands thoroughly after handling your pet and avoiding close contact if you are ill. Additionally, if you test positive for COVID-19, consider limiting close contact with your pet and having another household member care for them temporarily.

In conclusion, while dogs can contract the canine influenza, they cannot get COVID-19. It's crucial for dog owners to be aware of the signs of canine influenza, vaccinate their pets as recommended, and practice good hygiene to prevent its spread. In the context of COVID-19, the risk of transmission between humans and pets is minimal, and responsible pet ownership, including basic hygiene practices, can help ensure the health and well-being of both pets and their owners.