April 22, 2010

Can Pets get Swine Flu?

Filed under: flu virus,h1n1 virus,pets and swine flu,swine flu — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:08 am

Most commonly known as swine flu, the H1N1 virus has been dominating the health headlines over the past year. This flu virus was responsible for a pandemic in 2009 and it’s no surprise that pet owners around the world are concerned for the safety of their beloved animals. Early strains of the virus first affected humans as far back as 1918 when it was also associated with a pandemic.

Recent evidence suggests that cats and maybe even dogs are also susceptible to swine flu. Although very few cases have been reported, there are some visible symptoms to watch out for if you suspect your pet may be suffering from the flu. Clearly, the most obvious symptoms are going to be flu-like.

  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Cough
  • Runny nose

Still, there are a variety of illnesses, namely upper respiratory tract infections that can cause similar symptoms so it is incredibly difficult to determine if a cat is suffering from H1N1. There have been some high risk behaviors that researches have identified as putting your cat at risk of contracting the virus.

  • Close contact with infected individuals
  • Extensive contact with ill pets or humans
  • Access to environments that may be contaminated with the virus

Basically, as is the case with humans, it is important to ensure a germ free environment for your cat. If you have had sick visitors in your home you should disinfect surfaces like door knobs to prevent the spread of the virus. Try to observe the same vigilance for your cat as you would yourself. At the moment, there is no pet vaccine for the H1N1 virus so treatment is usually symptomatic. It’s always recommended to visit a veterinarian if you suspect your cat may be suffering from a serious illness.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.