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January 29, 2012

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The Healthy Hound and Frisky Feline: Protecting Your Pet from the Flu

By Natalie Lester, PetSafe Brand Marketing Specialist

Natalie wants all pet owners to be mindful of their pet's health unlike she has been of her own during this flu season.

January hasn’t been too cold here in Knoxville, and it doesn’t seem too many people have been sick. Yet, I have been extra careful about germs this month because I forgot to get my flu shot last season. And, who has time to be stuck at home sick for a week?

Even if you do have time, why on earth would you want to? As I was thinking about my lack of planning for that shot yesterday, I reached down to pet one of my favorite office dogs Ellie (Laura wrote about her here).

I started to wonder about what would happen if our dogs got the flu, and what measures should be taken to prevent it. I thought it must be similar to our experience with a week of a fever, stuffy nose, and body aches. Boy, was I wrong! I called Dr. Monica Webb at Countryside Vet Services here in Knoxville to set the record straight.

There were a few things I was right about, but for the most part I had it all wrong. Read on to find out how to keep your dog from getting the flu and what to do if he gets it, along with other helpful facts:

Puppies should be vaccinated for the flu along with their other shots. It is a two part installment with 2 to 4 weeks between the shots.

After they are vaccinated, it is an annual shot just like us. Depending on your clinic, the shots will typically cost you between $20 and $40.

Poor sick puppy!! (Courtesy of

There isn’t a “flu season” for dogs like there is for humans. So, don’t be fooled by the warm weather in the summer. Dr. Webb said there was an outbreak in Atlanta a few summers ago, and she was right. In fact, the disease spread across the U.S. in 2009, but there have not been very many outbreaks since then.

Symptoms are somewhat similar to what we experience including coughing and running a fever. However, the flu will also lead to vomiting for dogs. It may also lead to pneumonia.

If your pet does catch the disease, treatment is quite different for our pets than it is for humans. Dogs must be hospitalized and administered antibiotics and fluids through an IV, which makes our week on the couch with over-the-counter meds sound like a piece of cake. They also have to be patted on the chest, referred to as coupage, to loosen up the flem from their respiratory tracks.

If you suspect your dog has the flu, visit your vet immediately. Dr. Webb recently treated a dog with the virus and she said he is perfectly healthy now.

Has your dog ever had the flu? What steps do you take to be sure he stays healthy?


ABOUT NATALIE As the PetSafe Brand Marketing Specialist, Natalie manages The Paw Print blog and generates other brand related content including public relations and promotions. Before PetSafe, Natalie worked in the local media covering politics, education, and religion. She is a substitute pet owner to a German shorthaired pointer named Bedford in Abingdon, VA, Frenchie the schnoodle in Lenoir City, TN, and all the office dogs at PetSafe's headquarters in Knoxville. As a pet lover, she is currently searching for the perfect puppy to join her home.

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