Getting sick is the pits. Sure, it’s nice to have an excuse to do nothing but sleep. Sure, it’s cool to have an excuse to not shower or brush your teeth for five days.
But that gets old in, like, six minutes. Because all the things that you thought would be great if only you had a day to when you are forced to do nothing suddenly are zero fun.
Sleeping all day, for instance, isn’t fun because your body aches everywhere, in places you didn’t think possible (how do my armpits hurt? Why do my kneecaps feel chilly?).
Distracting yourself on social media only reminds you of all the great time healthy people are having eat bagels.
Binging on Netflix ain’t cool anymore either because you’re so tired of watching Lorelai and Rory talk super insanely fast about coffee and subsequently feeling a thousand years of shame when Netflix asks if you’re still watching Season 3 of the show you’ve watched hundreds of times (yes, okay, Netflix, we’re still watching, go put your head in the sand).
You know what makes being sick kind of okay, though?
Sleeping on the couch all day with your dog friend. That’s because dogs are like Xanax that loves you back. They are literally walking hugs that melt into a puddle of love when you walk in the room.
So, when you’re sick and suddenly have to have some down time at home, this magical woofer gets you for the next 72 hours. Meaning it’s cuddle city: all day, every day, and you’re at the mercy of his agenda, which includes licks, farts, snores, musings on passing squirrels, pawing you in the face when you aren’t doing anything fun, and silent staring contests.
Which got us thinking about what it’s like to be sick when you’re a dog. And it made us all kinds of sad.
Like, you can’t explain to your person how you’re feeling. Which means you can’t ask for what you need, tell someone where it hurts. You can’t zonk out on cough syrup and have the super awesome drugged out dreams.
You don’t get to watch TV or drink Ginger Ale and eat soda crackers and have someone bring you a bucket to barf in and rage when Rory takes Logan back (come on, Rory). You can’t run or play or sniff butts or chase squirrels or bark at shadows and tree stumps and road signs.
You don’t get to do any of those things when you’re a dog at home with the flu. Which is what hundreds in Canada are doing right now.
This January, the first ever case of the canine flu was reported in Canada after a shipment of rescue dogs arrived from Asia. And just this past month, a confirmed outbreak was announced in central Ontario and everywhere, doggo parents hugged their canine counterparts tightly to their chests.
But there is good news, frens, so fear not and put those doggie space suits away — we will all be okay.
Here’s what you need to know about dog flu…
The canine flu strain (H3N2) is highly infectious and once introduced can spread faster than a SQUIRREL.
While it isn’t a severe disease, just like the human flu, it isn’t pleasant. And it spreads easily: through contact. And since dogs are typically nose to nose/nose to butt’s kind of peeps (weirdos), it can spread a lot easier than, say, Chad not washing his hands after sneezing and touching the office water cooler (gross).
But humans can also spread it, too. After touching an infected dog (or dog toy) and then touching another without washing their hands (really, Chad?), so always wash your hands after touching any dog that you think may be infected, as it can remain viable for up to 12 hours (24 on your clothes, but no one expects you to wash your clothes after every dog you pet — that would be a lot of laundry).
Canine Flu Symptoms
Since dogs don’t possess basic syntax and can’t tell us when they’re sick, and as they have yet to learn the powers of telepathy to tell us with their minds that they aren’t feeling right, the canine flu can be tricky to identify. Like, is your bestie just feeling the Monday blues? Is he experiencing an exponential crisis, watching others live their best life on social media? Or is it kennel cough? (The two are highly interchangeable).
If you aren’t sure, watch out for any of these symptoms:
- Runny nose, runny eyes
- High fever (103 degrees)
- Loss of appetite
How you can protect and prevent the flu from reaching your floof
We know you’re just like us: you’re not a regular mom. You’re a cool mom…with a flair for helicopter dog-parenting. Which is why we know you’re already eyeing your dog, wondering if their eyes look extra weepy.
Everything will be okay — you don’t suddenly need to pull them from doggie daycare, burn all your clothes, and creep up to their faces at night to make sure they’re still breathing (but it’s also okay if you do).
If you’re out and about and think a dog appears to be coughing or, just generally, looks a tad under the weather, then keep your dog away. Easy peasy!
If, like us, you hover on the socially anxious spectrum of human-people emotions, and you worry about offending any humans for refusing to let your dog smell their dogs butt, use our built in, fail safe excuse to avoid any hurt feelings, canine or bipedal: We just finished a killer round of puppy yoga — we’re doing a meditative walk right now to cleanse our auras. Namaste.
What to do if pupper gets sick
The best thing you can do for your best friend (and other doggos) is to keep them away from others. That means no dog parks, no kennels, no play dates, no daycare (try explaining that one to doggo). Infected dogs can remain infectious for up to three weeks after onset, so it’s the quarantine life for him.
Poor pariah pupper.
Before you take him to the vet, make sure to call them up to warn them. This will give them time to make sure they can prevent any contact with others. Unfortunately, your vet will tell you what you likely already know: the flu just needs to run its course. While there is a vaccine, it’s a preventative one, much like the non-fun human flu-shot.
Which means: rest, fluids, as much TV as your doggo wants (no more Gilmore Girls, only Ru Paul’s Drag Race, please kthanxbye) and all the love you can give to your most loyal friend who is also made of rainbows and has a heart of sunshine.
Kirsten Barkved is a writer who thinks that the best way to solve all your problems is to melt some cheese on them. She lives in Vancouver with three very hairy boys, two of which are dogs. Her goal in life is to pat as many dogs as possible.