Feathers & fur Treating canine cough and cat flu
We all know how miserable colds, flu and other viruses make us feel, and it’s no different for our pets, as DR PETER KIRKPATRICK explains
While dogs and cats don’t experience quite the same flu as we do, they can suffer from debilitating symptoms of coughing, wheezing and lethargy, just like us. Here’s how to recognise when your pet is feeling poorly and what you can do about it.
Dogs can catch this highly contagious condition at any time of year. It used to be called kennel cough, because dogs often came down with it after being in a kennel environment, but it doesn’t just occur after they have been on holiday. Research shows that most dogs will contract canine cough at some point in their lives.
The main strains are bordetella and parainfluenza, and these cause a dry hacking cough that sounds like the dog is trying to bring up something caught in his throat. Thankfully, these two components are included in most vaccinations. While your dog may still contract canine cough, his symptoms will be far less severe.
Owners who consult us often describe some or all of these symptoms in dogs presenting with canine cough: Retching, as though trying to bring something up Coughing
Puppies, senior dogs and those with existing health problems are more predisposed to contracting canine cough. And dogs with compromised respiratory systems, such as pugs and bulldogs, will be worse off if they do become infected.
Surprisingly, most infected dogs still eat, drink and play normally. The cough usually goes away of its own accord, but if you’re concerned that it’s not clearing up, take your dog to a vet, who may prescribe some medication to relieve the symptoms.
This is a particularly nasty disease that can have a devastating effect on our furry friends. A number of different viruses are responsible for cat flu, but the most common are calicivirus and herpesvirus, both of which can result in severe respiratory problems.
Symptoms depend on which virus has caused the infection, but common signs in cats are:
Sneezing and nasal discharge
Discharge from the eyes
Loss of appetite
Ulceration, especially in the mouth
Salivation or drooling
Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
did you know?
The most common place for dogs to pick up canine cough is the park. After contracting the disease, it takes three or four days for any of the symptoms to show.