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Can Dogs Get Cat Flu?


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Cats get sick, just like the rest of us. Kitties are susceptible to viruses like the flu and all sorts of other bacterial Infections. If you have both feline and canine family members, you may get a bit worried if one of them starts to sniffle, sneeze or have tummy troubles. Can bugs bounce back and forth between the two? It's a question worth asking, as it's a lot more stressful dealing with two sick pets than one! But what exactly is “Cat Flu”, and can your dog get it?

Can Dogs Get Cat Flu?


The answer for this actually gets a bit murky. Dogs can indeed get “cat flu”, but it's not what you'd think. Cat flu is the name that many call canine parvovirus enteritis, a nasty and contagious viral infection. But here is the strange part, this “cat flu” is something that dogs can get, but cats generally can't! Viruses, in general, have a more difficult time hopping from species to species-- cats are more likely to suffer from a similar disease, feline panleukopenia, which is often referred to as feline parvovirus. But if your cat is showing signs of sickness, it's still better to be cautious because bacterial infections can definitely switch between dog and cat hosts, and exhibit a lot of the same symptoms early on that viruses do.

Does My Dog Have Cat Flu?

If your pup shows any of the signs of cat flu (parvovirus), take him to your vet immediately, especially if your dog is under one year old! This virus can be a serious health threat to any dog.

At first, your pooch may just act a bit under the weather after contracting parvovirus, staying away from food and acting less playful than usual. Once the virus starts to do its thing, your dog will likely start to vomit or have bad diarrhea. Dehydration starts to set in fast, which is another reason to get your fur-baby treated quickly.

Puppies who have not had their shots have the highest risk of getting cat flu. If your dog gets into any animal poop or if he goes nose to nose with an infected animal, the virus can easily spread to him. Dogs who are under stress also seem to get this virus more often than those who are stress-free.

Parvovirus is very easy to diagnose! Your vet will need a sample of your dog's blood to send to a lab for evaluation. They will likely be able to determine if the dog has produced antibodies that match cat flu from it's blood.

If you're looking for more info about diagnosing parvovirus in your dog, give this article a read: Parvo in Dogs.

How Do I Treat Cat Flu in My Dog?

Unfortunately, parvo has no known cure. That being said, with basic life support from a hospital or clinic, some dogs do survive this devastating disease.

A dog with parvo will need constant fluid support to fight against dehydration from all of that stomach upset. This may be done with an IV tube for faster help! Sugars and proteins can also be put into the tube to help build the body up. Medication can be prescribed to help keep out other infections and limit nausea.

The first four days of the infection are the most crucial. If your pup gets through this difficult time, a full recovery is likely. Being with your dog to soothe them can really make a difference in the healing process. Foods that are easy on the tummy can be given to your pooch after he’s stopped vomiting. Be careful though, dogs who have had cat flu stay contagious for up to six weeks! Because of this, it's best to keep other dogs away during this time.

Have any questions about cat flu that you'd like to ask a veterinarian? Or would you like to read other owners’ stories about dealing with this scary virus? If so, check out Parvo in Dogs.

How is Cat Flu Similar in Dogs and Cats

While the actual sickness may be different, many of the warning signs that your four-legged family member is sick are the same no matter if they bark or meow. Similarities include:

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

How is Cat Flu  Different in Dogs and Cats?

Because cats and dogs do not typically contract the same parvovirus, there are some differences to watch for in dogs:

  • Stomach upset that will not stop

  • A swollen abdomen

  • Weak pulse

  • Signs of dehydration

  • Hypothermia

Case Study

One three-month-old poodle pup started to show signs that he wasn't happy when he refused to eat any of his food. Shortly after, he started throwing up and having bloody diarrhea. The owner was quick to bring him to the vet, who gave the pup medication and some intravenous help. Five days later, the puppy was beginning to drink on his own, and was starting to act a bit more normal. The owner promptly bleached all of the floors and outside areas to protect her other dogs, and got rid of any toys that the puppy had played with before getting sick.

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