Can Your Dog Get the Flu? The Symptoms You Need to Look For

sick Jack Russell in bed with a thermometor in mouth and ice pack on his head

Your dog can get the flu, too. | damedeeso/iStock/Getty Images

Spreading the flu to your dog is the last thing you want to do. But the truth is, dogs can get the influenza virus from you if you don’t take the proper precautions. As much as you want to kiss and snuggle your pet while you’re sick, it could compromise their health. Here’s what you should do to avoid spreading the virus, plus how common it is and what symptoms you should look for.

Can you give your dog the flu?

The short answer is yes. According to PetMD, bacteria like the influenza virus have “zoonotic potential” meaning they can spread between humans and animals, or vice versa. Specific strains of the influenza virus, like the swine flu, are more easily spread between humans and pets than other strains.

Next: Here’s how to avoid giving your pup the flu. 

How common is the flu in dogs?

sick dog under a blanket

There are some viruses you can pass to your dog. | igorr1/iStock/Getty Images

It is pretty uncommon for a pet to contract the flu virus from you, but it’s not impossible. If you practice proper precaution, your dog probably won’t contract the virus. When you’re under the weather, it’s tempting to lay with your beloved pup by your side. However, that might not be the best idea. You don’t need to stand 10 feet away from your pooch at all times, but don’t let him lick your face or mouth, and don’t share food with him.

Next: Here are the most common symptoms to watch out for in your dog. 

Mucous in the nose or eyes

Sad Lovely Dog French Bulldog

Symptoms are similar to what a human would experience. | bruev/iStock/Getty Images

According to PetMD, if your dog has a runny or stuffy nose, that’s a clear sign he is sick. Plus, mucous from the eyes is also common. It’s not odd to see a bloody nose, either. It’s easy to assume it’s just allergies or something along those lines, but during flu season, be extra aware of your dog’s behavior.

Next: This symptom is also common in humans. 

Coughing

Dog in a shelter.

A cough isn’t a good sign. | Halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images

Humans and dogs have similar flu symptoms. Dogs can get a bad cough just like humans. The style of the cough doesn’t say much — a wet cough or a dry cough can both be signs of the flu, and both are uncomfortable for your pet.

Next: Any sign of this could mean your dog is ill.

Labored breathing

Bernese Mountain Dog Puppy

It could be a sign of infection. | Foto-front/iStock/Getty Images

If your dog sounds like he is struggling to breathe, it could be a sign of the flu. Any increased respiratory effort frequently signals some sort of infection.

Next: If your pup lacks this, it might be time for a vet visit. 

Lethargy

sick dog lying down

You might first notice your dog is more tired than normal. | sanjagrujic/iStock/Getty Images

If your pup is usually up and about and always ready to play, then a lack of energy could be a big sign something is wrong. It might be the first sign you notice, too. When dogs lose their energy, it can signal any sort of health problem, so it’s best to take action quickly.

Next: If this is upset, your dog is upset. 

Upset stomach

English bulldog under a blanket

Look for a decrease in appetite, too. | Lindsay_Helms/iStock/Getty Images

Sometimes an upset stomach accompanies flu symptoms. If you’ve noticed your dog has been tired, or has a runny nose, and then starts to have vomiting or diarrhea, it could be the flu. Plus, a decrease in appetite is also a strong sign of some kind of health issue.

Next: Here’s what you should do if you think your dog could be sick. 

Take your dog to the vet if you suspect the flu

Dog leaning away

Don’t assume your dog can handle the virus on his own. | fotoedu/iStock/Getty Images

 If you think your dog may have contracted the flu, don’t assume it will pass quickly on its own. Just like in humans, the flu can be a very uncomfortable illness for your dog. PetMD says it’s important to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible, so they can diagnose the flu (and make sure it’s not a different health problem), and help you with the next steps in how to get your animal’s health back up to par.

Next: There’s another type of flu your dog could catch, too. 

Your dog is also susceptible to canine influenza virus

girl spending time with lovely jack Russel Terrier dog

It’s highly contagious. | Artem Tryhub/iStock/Getty Images

A separate, dogs-only flu virus can also make your dog ill. It’s known as the canine influenza virus, and it has two common strains: the CIV strain and the canine parainfluenza virus (CVP) strain. Dogs contract it through infected dogs, typically if they’re in close contact, such as in a kennel, groomer, or shelter.

The virus sticks around for up to 48 hours on surfaces, which means your dog can contract it the same way you’d contract a cold or flu virus. It has an incubation period of one to five days. If your dog was exposed to an infected dog, look for potential symptoms (respiratory distress is the main symptom; fever is also common) for at least five days after contact.

Next: Here’s how to tell if you should vaccinate your dog for the dog flu.

Should you get your dog vaccinated for the dog flu?

Happy vet holding french bulldog puppy

If your dog will be in contact with other canines, the vaccination could be a good idea. | hedgehog94/iStock/Getty Images

 If you frequently put your dog up in a doggy day care, or hire a dog walker who walks multiple dogs at once, it wouldn’t hurt to have your pup vaccinated for dog flu. There are bivalent vaccines available for dogs that protect against both strains of the virus. However, if your dog is not frequently in contact with other dogs, the vaccine is unnecessary. The American Veterinary Medical Association considers the vaccine to be a “lifestyle vaccine” that they would only give to dogs with a high risk of exposure.

Next: There is some good news and some bad news for cats. 

There is no influenza virus strain for cats

White Persian Cat

Cats still can get certain viruses though. | Airubon/iStock/Getty Images

Luckily for cat owners, cats do not have their own flu virus. However, they can still contract the flu from humans. Believe it or not, it is also possible for cats to contract the dog flu. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine yet for cats to prevent the dog flu. If possible, try to keep your cat away from high risk areas, such as kennels or pet day care spots with a lot of dogs.

Next: Here are a few other diseases that humans can easily spread to their dogs. 

MRSA

bacteria in culture medium plate

Owners can pass MRSA to their pets. | iStock.com/jarun011

This antibiotic-resistant bacteria strain has appeared in numerous pets. Most often, pets contract the bacteria from their owners. According to Newsmax, most the owners who spread the virus either work in health care, had recently been hospitalized, or were caring for someone who was recently hospitalized. Symptoms of MRSA include red, swollen, painful patches on the skin, which are typically accompanied by fever.

Next: If you’re not vaccinated for this, you can easily spread it to your pets. 

Mumps

they are the best friends

Humans can pass mumps to dogs. | BilevichOlga/iStock/Getty Images

Mumps has a different name in dogs: parotiditis. It’s inflammation of the parotid glands (salivary glands), and can be spread from a human infected with the mumps virus. Swelling of the parotid glands is the biggest sign of the disease. However, dogs can show other symptoms, like loss of appetite and fever. Mumps is no joke; take your pup to the vet right away if you become aware of any symptoms.

Next: Humans and dogs contract this the same way. 

Salmonella

Border collie drinking water

Watch for salmonella in your dog’s environment. | Oneinchpunch/iStock/Getty Images

Although humans don’t spread salmonella to dogs, humans and animals contract the disease the exact same way. Salmonella is a bacterial infection that is typically spread through contaminated food or water. If both a human and a dog drink contaminated water, they’re at the same risk of contracting the disease. Symptoms of salmonella in dogs include fever, vomiting, and lethargy.

Next: This serious disease can be spread to pets, too. 

Tuberculosis 

border collie on a couch under a blanket

Infected humans can transmit tuberculosis to dogs. | Lindsay_Helms/iStock/Getty Images

If a dog contracts tuberculosis, there is a good chance it was from a human. Most dogs contract the disease from repeated exposure to the air shared with an infected person (such as living under the same roof as the infected person). Symptoms of TB in dogs include fever, weight loss, and a harsh, dry cough.

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