H1N1 Virus and Pets: Questions and Answers
FAQs About the H1N1 Virus (“Swine Flu”) and Pets Both at the Shelter and at Home
Michigan Humane Society Statement:
The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) has had no confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in any of its animals. MHS protocols call for the isolation and treatment of any animal exhibiting signs of upper respiratory illness. The Michigan Humane Society has the significant benefit of having a full service veterinary center within each of its three animal care facilities.
Has the Michigan Humane Society seen or suspected any cases of the swine flu amongst any of its animals within its three shelters?
The Michigan Humane Society has had no confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in any of its companion animals. Additionally, to our knowledge, there have been no confirmed cases of the “swine flu” amongst companion animals within the state of Michigan. Outside of Michigan, the virus has been detected within people, pigs, cats, ferrets and some avian species.
Do you have any measures in place to guard against the H1N1 virus at your shelters?
MHS is fully cognizant of the transmission risk of any viral disease among animals and has isolation, sanitation and treatment measures in place to help control the spread of these diseases. MHS works hard each and every day to minimize and prevent the spread of any disease within its facilities.
Will MHS test its animals for the H1N1 virus?
Like humans, there are many types of infectious diseases that can occur in dogs and cats. Animals within MHS facilities are evaluated and treated as symptoms and diagnoses are made on a case-by-case basis.
What is an Upper Respiratory Infection?
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) refers to a complex of viral and secondary bacterial diseases that affect the upper airways (trachea and bronchi). This type of infection is easily transmitted among cats and dogs that are within close proximity and therefore more common in shelters, veterinary hospitals and boarding facilities.
Can the H1N1 virus be transmitted between dogs and cats and ultimately between humans and pets?
Currently, many of the details and implications surrounding the transmission of the disease as it relates to common susceptible pets are unknown. To date, H1N1 has not been reported to occur in dogs.
Should pet owners be concerned and what should they do?
MHS recommends that pet owners stay informed relative to any issue that may affect the health of their animals but also cautions the public against overreacting.
Pet owners should understand that exposure to other animals does increase the risk of disease transmission yet socialization of our animal companions can be important to their overall well-being. Owners should evaluate the risks and benefits of each exposure situation on an individual basis.
The best thing for individuals to do is to pay attention to their animal’s health. If the animal displays any symptoms common to a URI infection, which includes sneezing, coughing, high temperature and/or discharge from the eyes or nose, seek veterinary care. Additionally, discussing your pet’s immunization plan with your vet is highly recommended.