Posted in cats, dogs, ferrets, H1N1, pet health, pets

Shoo, flu!

If you’ve been washing your hands plenty of times lately in order to avoid getting the flu, keep it up. And if you’ve already succumbed to the viral beast of the season, keep it up still. Your pet’s health may also depend on it.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA.org), the reason is that influenza has, in recent years, been shown to be passable on to our pets, with several discoveries of cats, ferrets and dogs suffering influenza since the H1N1 virus began causing great concern in 2009.
We love our pets, in fact, many people live with them like members of the family. They’re on – and in – our beds, lounging in our living rooms, they even come close to eating at the dinner table with some of us. They come in close contact with us, whether we’re well or sick, and that may be putting our pets at risk for serious illness. In some instances, even death  may occur from flu, if a pet’s immune system is not up to par.
I know we usually think about it the other way around, that we might be exposed to disease by our pets. So far no evidence suggests that companion animals transmit the influenza virus to humans.
If you follow the caution the Centers for Disease Control recommends for pet owners, you’ve been washing your hands after handling your pets right along. (CDC works with domestic and international public and animal heath partners to continually monitor health issues between humans and their pets, and more information is made available on its website at cdc.gov.)
Here are some suggestions to consider:
•    Get your annual flu shot, when available, to protect against getting the flu.
•    If you’re ill with flu-like symptoms: fever, respiratory problems, sore throat, cough – wash your hands BEFORE you handle your pet.
•    Cover up your cough around your pets too.
•    Keep your pet’s sleeping area clean and avoid sleeping in close quarters when you are ill.
•    Wait at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to resume close contact with your pet.
•    Consult a veterinarian as soon as possible if your pet shows any signs of illness.
•    Remember, a healthy pet is less likely to become ill. Make sure your pet always has fresh water and clean food bowls daily.
If you’re feeling ill, you probably just want to curl up and sleep and let your immune system do its job. It’s said that deep sleep is where your body recovers from whatever is ailing it. So even if you have to keep your distance from pets until your fever has passed, your four-legged buddies can at least join you in your dreams!

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Owned by three cats over age 13