Be careful, it’s flu season for your furry mates too

NEXT time you wake up with a splitting headache, aching bones and a runny nose, take a second to consider your furry friend sitting outside.

While flu season has arrived for the human population, it's also peak time for our furry friends.

Experts say dogs, cats and even hamsters are likely to catch their own version of the flu this winter.

But they won't be catching it from us.

While animals' illness tend to set in around a similar time to their human companions - and have similar symptoms - pet owners need not feel guilty they may have passed on the germs.

Buderim Vet Surgery vet Dr Sue Coote said pets rarely caught illnesses from their owners as sicknesses were usually passed on within a species.

"Dogs get gastro, dogs get flus - but they don't catch them from humans commonly," Dr Coote said.

"At the moment we have dog flu going around, but it's not to be related to humans.

"They have similar illnesses to us and they're mainly gained from one another."

Like humans, Dr Coote said dog owners needed to take precautions to try to ensure their pets didn't pick up a dose of "doggy flu".

"In dogs, you'll notice a flu coming on with a runny nose, a cough, fever or even depression," she said.

"It's important to have your pets vaccinated against influenza."

Dr Coote reminded owners to be careful when allowing their pets to mingle with other potentially sick animals.

Off-leash parks and popular walking areas were key danger areas.

Keeping pets warm, healthy and on a good diet were important to help prevent illness.

In rare cases, pets can transmit disease or illness to humans in close contact - an occurrence known as zoonosis.

"Any illness that goes from one species to another is quite uncommon," Dr Coote said.

"You can't just say your dog has gastro because you have gastro. I haven't seen many cases of zoonosis in my 30 years as a vet."

DOGGY SICKNESS SYMPTOMS

  • Persistent constipation or diarrhoea that lasts for longer than 48 hours
  • Persistent sickness or choking when eating
  • Vomiting can be a sign of a developing allergy or a more serious infection, particularly in old dogs
  • Irregular eating patterns - refusing food for more than a day
  • Unusually excessive thirst and frequent urination
  • Reddened or swollen gums, particularly when associated with bad breath
  • Sneezing, panting, runny eyes and nose or other flu-like symptoms may be signs of respiratory problems


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