Following the publication of an alarming study into the potential threat of our beloved four-legged friends passing on life-threatening influenza strains to humans, pet owners are likely to be understandably concerned for the health of their families.
The research, which was conducted on companion canines, presented at veterinary practices in China, showing signs of respiratory distress, tested the animals for the presence of strains of influenza A viruses.
As in the case of pigs in the 2009 swine flu pandemic, this study suggests dogs could be a likely carrier of the next pandemic flu virus and recommends ongoing evaluation needs to be conducted, as well as protecting dogs from flu by utilising vaccinations.
This study highlights the risk of influenza being found in pet dogs kept in family homes, where previous studies found this disease to mainly associated within breeding animals kept for consumption.
Being aware of the potential risks hopefully raises the need for better hygiene protocols in the home to protect against the spread of germs.
Healthy pets = healthy families
There are fortunately several ways for pet owners to minimise the risks to the health of both their families and their beloved pets;
- Keep up with your dog’s vaccinations, some are required annually – ask your vet for advice
- Clean home and pet environment areas regularly with a pet-friendly disinfectant – but check the labels, as bleach, phenols and ammonia-based products could all harm your pet
- Minimise the time food is sat in bowls – particularly important if your dog is fed a raw diet
- Clean and dry your pet’s food bowl after use – E.coli and Salmonella can breed quickly even in bowls used for dry food
- Wash and sanitise hands of all family members involved in feeding, grooming and cleaning up after pets – ideally with a non-alcohol hand sanitiser which offers long-lasting protection
- Take your pet for regular health checks and see a vet immediately if you think your dog may be ill