PET SAFETY: Keeping them warm & healthy this winter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

PET SAFETY: Keeping them warm & healthy this winter

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Not only are people affected by the flu, but your pets can catch it too.

For the most part dogs and people get the same symptoms when it comes to the flu, but the good news is the dog flu is no where near as wide spread as the flu affecting people.

Dogs, like their owners can get some of the same sicknesses.

"They can experience hypothermia and that can life-threatening, if it's severe enough," said Veterinarian Dr. Erin McCormick, Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center.

Dogs can get the dog flu, also known as canine influenza. Their symptoms are similar to what people experience when they get the flu.

"Coughing, sneezing, discharge from the eyes or nose and sometimes they will be lethargic...sometimes they will run a fever," said Dr. McCormick.

Doctor McCormick says there have been a few cases of the dog flu in Iowa this year.

"I know a lot of people are worried about canine influenza, thankfully there hasn't been an outbreak in the area," said Dr. McCormick. "Thankfully dogs do not get the human strain of influenza, so you can't pass yours to your dog or vice versa. Canine influenza does not seem to be as big as an issue this winter as human influenza."

Pets can also get hypothermia if they stay outside too long, Dr. McCormick says it's important to keep your animals inside.

"If you are cold, they are cold," said Dr. McCormick. "When they do go outside, short haired dogs sometimes like to have a coat or a sweater on, that could be helpful, long haired dogs...leaving their coat longer may be nice for them in the winter."

Not only does Dr. McCormick say it's important to keep your pets warm while they are outside, but she says it's important to clean their paws when you get them back inside.

"They can get abrasions on their paw pads from being out on the ice and the snow so protecting their paw pads is important in the winter," said Dr. McCormick. "There are paw pad waxes or you can rub petroleum jelly on their paw pads, that could be helpful, and then cleaning off their paw pads when they come in from outside."

Vets say canine influenza germs can be spread at dog parks, boarding facilities and the groomer. They urge you to be cautious of these places if there is an outbreak.

Doctor McCormick says there have been a few cases this year where cats were taken into the Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center in Cedar Rapids for hypothermia and ended up dying. She says so far she hasn't treated any dogs for the flu. 

Experts say there are options available for a dog flu shot, just ask your vet. To see a map of where dog flu outbreaks have occurred CLICK HERE.

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