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Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM

Can My Dog or Cat Get H1N1 (Swine) Flu?

By September 18, 2009

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image courtesy Bonnie VengrowNovember 4, 2009 update:
Breaking News:
Yes, cats can contract H1N1

For the latest news, please see the H1N1 and Animal News Archive

Original post date: April 27, 2009

Information about H1N1 (Swine) flu and how to protect yourself and your family is readily available.

But what about our dogs and cats? Can they catch or spread H1N1 flu to each other or members of their human family? According to infectious disease experts, at this time the answer is most likely no. This is to say that to date there are no known dog/cat to human (or vice-versa) influenza transmissions.
Critical Udate: Now that story has changed - cat confirmed with H1N1

Care should be always taken to use proper sanitation and personal hygiene in all cases of illness, and especially for the ever-changing influenza viruses.

There are two types of influenza viruses: Type A and Type B. The Type A viruses are found in humans and many types of animals, usually strains specific to that species. The type B viruses circulate widely among humans1.

Dogs and cats do have their own versions of influenza viruses. The canine influenza virus is an influenza Type A H3N8 virus, and the feline version is Type A H5N1 influenza virus. (The numbers and letters after the type denote the numbers and types of proteins on the surface of the virus. The letter H stands for hemagglutinin and the letter N stands for neuraminidase.2)

Related Reading: New Dog Vaccine for H3N8 Flu

Who is spreading what virus? It is interesting to note that birds play an important role in the spread of all influenza A viruses. From the CDC: "Wild birds are the primary natural reservoir for all subtypes of influenza A viruses and are thought to be the source of influenza A viruses in all other animals." Read more

While rare, there have been human infections from pigs. In this current case of swine flu, a pig virus mixed with a human virus at some point in time to produce the new strain that is being passed human-to-human. This allows for quick spread of this virus in the human population. Because this is a newly created (reassorted) virus, humans do not have any immunity from previous exposures as with "regular" viruses.

Back to dogs and cats While they both have influenza Type A viruses that can infect and cause illness in dogs and cats, humans are not as similar of a species to share these viruses in the current forms. There have been no reports yet of any cases that have spread to humans or from humans to pets.

Read more about influenza viruses in dogs and cats:
H5N1 infection in domestic cats and a stone marten - Europe - from the CDC


H5N1 infection in domestic cats - from the CDC

Summary: "To date, there is no evidence that domestic cats have a role in the natural transmission cycle of H5N1 viruses" and "the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has issued preliminary recommendations for cat owners living in H5N1-affected areas. These include keeping domestic cats indoors to prevent exposure to potentially infected birds and avoiding contact with semi-domestic and feral cats living outside the home." Report from the CDC

Key Facts about Canine Influenza (Dog Flu) - from the CDC

Summary: "To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people and there has not been a single reported case of human infection with the canine influenza virus. However, human infections with new influenza viruses (against which the human population has little immunity) would be concerning if they occurred. Influenza viruses are constantly changing and it is possible for a virus to change so that it could infect humans and spread easily between humans." CDC Key Facts Sheet

What about pet pigs?
According to the AVMA Flu FAQ: "To date, the 2009 H1N1 virus has not been reported in pot-bellied pigs. However, the possibility of human-to-pig transmission of the virus warrants extra caution by pig owners."

What about birds?
In August 2009, it was reported that turkeys in Chile were infected with the H1N1 virus. It is believed that, as with swine, the turkeys were infected by a human source. It is not known at this time if humans can be infected from birds.

If your pet is sick
As always, if you suspect that your dog or cat is sick, please contact your veterinarian directly for an examination and to discuss any questions. Always use good sanitation practices (wash hands, etc.) when dealing with animals.

Related information about pets and H1N1 (swine) flu:

Comments

April 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm
(1) Kristin Hayes says:

Thanks for a well written and enlightening blog. With all the misconceptions about the swine flu, (Yesterday my brother asked me if he could get it by eating pork.), it’s good to know that our pets aren’t at risk.

April 27, 2009 at 6:39 pm
(2) vetmedicine says:

Thank you. To be clear though – nothing is an absolute, especially where these types of viruses are concerned. Historically though (according to the CDC), there haven’t been any cases of human zoonotic transmission to/from dogs and cats.

There have been some questions about ferrets and pigs (i.e. pot-bellied pigs) that I can’t answer at this time. Both ferrets and pigs have similarities with humans with respect to viral infection, and it has been documented that influenza viruses have been spread zoonotically between these species and humans.

The most important thing is to remain calm, exercise excellent hygiene, be observant for signs of illness, and speak to your veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect that your pet is sick.

April 27, 2009 at 8:58 pm
(3) Mohala says:

What about the case of a dog whom caught swine flu in tailand?

April 27, 2009 at 10:46 pm
(4) vetmedicine says:

Thank you for your comment. I found a few references to a dog who died after eating ducks infected with avian H5N1 flu. From the AVMA in 2006: Dog dies of avian influenza

From an AVMA press release dated 24 April 2009 about the new swine flu:
“At this point, it appears to be human-to-human transmission only,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Read more

Medicine and viruses are not absolutes. The information is changing, being collected and studied. This is the information we have today. Keeping in touch with the news, discussing concerns with your veterinarian and monitoring your pet’s health daily are the best ways to protect your pet and yourself.

April 29, 2009 at 5:03 pm
(5) Father Daniel Beegan says:

Dr. Crosby,

I’m pleased to hear that, in all probability, my dog is safe. My people doctor, Thomas J. Deluca D.O., also said he was not concerned that, at this point, it appeared to be a pandemic in the making. Tom also said he by no means was implying that public health officials were over-reacting, simply there is no need to panic.

As a priest, I’ll be in the thick of it if it becomes a pandemic as the parish priest won’t be able to keep up with demand for sacraments. I am not scared, I survived a serious auto accident yesterday and if the Good God wants me, He’ll take me.

April 29, 2009 at 6:30 pm
(6) T Davis says:

My cat just caught and ate a sick, wild bird. Is he at risk for swine flu now (if that’s what ailed the bird)?

April 30, 2009 at 6:47 pm
(7) Anna says:

That’s odd because yesterday on CNN they did say that this virus could well be transmitted between the species.

I am keeping my dog (and myself) away from the neighbors etc…

April 30, 2009 at 8:11 pm
(8) vetmedicine says:

T Davis – hopefully your cat will not get sick. Eating anything sick(?) and dead poses risks to health in general, though, so be sure to watch for any signs of illness and speak to your vet if you have questions.

Anna – from my blog post yesterday(via the AVMA):

    Can my pet get swine flu?
    To date, there is no evidence that pets are susceptible to this new strain of influenza; it appears to be transmitted solely from person to person.

This FAQ was published by the AVMA on April 29th, and updated today, April 30. As new information develops, they will update.

Read full FAQ from the AVMA: Frequently Asked Questions About 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus

May 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm
(9) shaiasia says:

thanks because i just got a yorkie

August 7, 2009 at 10:20 am
(10) Faezal says:

Janet, you’re a life saver — I was real worried about my 2-month old Chow! God bless!

August 12, 2009 at 5:41 am
(11) regina says:

we have two cats, both of them are presently very ill with flu like symptoms. We are worried about our 1 year old German Shepherd dog. Is he at risk ?

August 12, 2009 at 11:27 am
(12) Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM says:

To both Faezal and regina:
While there haven’t been any cases of H1N1 flu (formerly called swine flu) in dogs and cats to date, then can and do get their own versions of flu – canine influenza or feline respiratory infections. Dogs can also get something called Kennel Cough.

As always, if your pet is sick, please call your veterinarian, even just to ask questions or determine if your pet needs to be seen. Sooner is better – for your pet and for your pocketbook.

October 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm
(13) Karen Massey says:

My 4 1/2 Pound Pomeranian has The swine flu vet says I could give her it but not her to me the reason he thinks she got it was She had major Surgery 3 weeks ago. Then My hubby got H!N1 Tuesday Then I got it Thursday. Friday My pom started coughing bad and runny eyes and nose. Took her to vet he put her on Baytril and nose Drops.

October 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm
(14) koki says:

i want to know if the swine be a reservoir for all virus influenza please if you know send your comment….

October 19, 2009 at 1:57 am
(15) Jason Steel says:

Just lost my dog to swine flu right after my father was infected by it. The answer is definitely yes, your pets can get it from humans. I can tell you that for a fact. For those that do not wish to believe that, are you willing to bet your pet’s life on it? Keep them away from those that are infected.

October 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm
(16) ShellyB says:

My daughter was just diagnosed this week with Swine Flu and confirmed through lab tests. A couple of days before she got sick both my husband, another older daughter, and I were all sick with what started as a sore throat. Anyways…I am confident that during this last week all four of us have infact had swine flu. Our toy fox Terrier during this entire time went through 2 days of not eating, and vomiting. He drank, used the bathroom, and pretty much slept for 48 hours when he wasn’t getting sick. I believe that he too, had this flu.

October 26, 2009 at 12:38 pm
(17) Sheri Reynolds says:

I have had swine flu for over 2 weeks now. We have 3 dogs
and a cat, but my loyal constant companion is a little 5 year old male pug cross. He hardly never leaves my side and sleeps right next to the head of my bed in his own bed. Two days ago he started to throw up a little after eating, and needed to go out in the middle of the night to the bathroom. This is so unusual for this dog,he is healthy and is a great eater. All of our pets have had shots for regular stuff. I really think he might have my flu,this is so frightening to me. I have stayed home away from people and tried to stay away from my family too, so I would not spread this awful flu. Why are we not being warned about our pets? The part that scares me is how bad it will affect his lungs,and will it be a lighter case than mine has been.I never thought I could have spread it to my beloved pets,I would have been a lot more careful. But I just do not see how it could be anything else. People need to be warned!

October 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm
(18) Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM says:

To date, there are no known cases of H1N1 in cat or dogs.

The AVMA has a page dedicated to H1N1 (swine) flu and animals and they update it as soon as there is any new information for pets on this rapidly spreading, mostly human virus pandemic: Frequently Asked Questions About 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus

Here is the CDC H1N1 flu info page: 2009 H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)

Dogs can get their own version of “flu” – the H3N8 influenza virus and kennel cough.

October 29, 2009 at 9:28 pm
(19) brenda says:

My 11yr old shep/heelerX has been sick for 2 weeks now.Started out with loss of appitite,diarrea, and slight fever. Took him to the vet twice now, but can’t seem to find any reason why he’s like this, blood work has come back normal. I’m now sick with cold like symptons. Could my dog be sick for this long if he does have the H1N1 virus, and is it possible I have it to now?

November 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm
(20) vetmedicine says:

The story has changed.

I cannot comment yet on dogs, but H1N1 has been confirmed in a cat in Iowa

March 24, 2010 at 11:50 pm
(21) Mike in Pennsylvania says:

In addition to humans, live swine and turkeys, a small number of ferrets (which are highly susceptible to influenza A viruses), domestic cats and dogs have been infected with 2009 H1N1 virus.

March 24, 2010 at 11:51 pm
(22) Mike in Pennsylvania says:
March 28, 2010 at 11:17 am
(23) Kelly Pitt says:

Hi there, Just a quick question, I have 4 dogs aged 2yrs 22 mths 11 months and 14 weeks I also have a female cat about1 yr old all 4 dogs have had a flu like sickness passing down from the oldest to the baby and are all doing fine now, The cat and myself are now experiencing the same symptoms is this possible? I was confused by your article, but intrigued by it.Hope you could shed some light.
Thank you

April 28, 2010 at 8:49 pm
(24) vetmedicine says:

To Kelly – H1N1 has been found in cats, so it is possible that your cat and you are “sharing” an infection. Hopefully everyone has recovered now.

January 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm
(25) Connie says:

There was a guy on the news from Ontario whose dog contracted H1N1 from him . My toy poodle also had the same symtoms in October 2009 as me when I was sick with H1N1.

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