Dogs and cats have a flu season of their own...

Dogs and cats have a flu season of their own this time of year. Credit: Dreamstime

Flu season is in full swing, but it’s not just humans who are at risk. Our furry friends have a flu season of their own.

Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a respiratory disease in dogs. But don’t fret: There is no evidence reported of canine influenza viruses being transmitted from dogs to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of canine flu include coughing, runny nose, lethargy, fever, eye discharge and reduced appetite. However, not all dogs show signs of the infection. In severe cases, the dog flu can result in pneumonia and even death, although the percentage of dogs that die from the disease is very small.

Canine influenza began in horses before spreading to dogs, and can be transmitted among canines. It is now classified as the dog-specific H3N8 virus. Another strain, H3N2, began in birds and also can affect dogs, as well as cats.

Cats can also become infected with multiple strains of influenza viruses, including the H3N2 strain. Like humans and dogs, the disease is spread through direct contact, air, contaminated foods and surfaces.

While some studies suggest humans can spread the flu to their cats, it's an uncommon occurrence. However, it's not known whether cats can spread the disease to their owners.

While the disease results in mild illnesses for cats, for dogs, treatment consists of support and care for your precious pooch and veterinarians may prescribe antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.

Testing for both canine viruses is available. Consult your veterinarian to see if testing may be appropriate for your pup.