What are Colds and Flu?
Pets, just like humans tend to be susceptible to colds and flu. Very often respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or congestion develops as a result of a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. However, in cats and dogs, cold and flu symptoms occur as a result of a virus.
If left untreated, cold and flu symptoms can lead to serious secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia. Consult your vet for prompt treatment and take preventative measures to boost your pet’s immune system.
The common symptoms and signs of colds and flu in cats and dogs include:
- Nasal congestion
- Eye and nasal discharge
- Breathing difficulties
- Moist, soft cough
- Thick, nasal discharge
- Rapid, labored breathing
What Causes Colds and Flu?
In cats, common cold symptoms are caused by various organisms, either the feline rhinotrachetitis virus (herpes virus or FRV) or the feline calcivirus (FCV). Other cold infections are caused organisms such as Bordetellabronchiseptica, Pasturella multocida, Mycoplasma (parasitic bacteria), feline coronavirus, or Chlamydophila felis. In dogs, cold symptoms are caused by the Bordatella and flu virus.
More recently, canine influenza (dog flu) which is a highly contagious respiratory illness has been documented, and as yet there is no immunity against this disease. Respiratory infections often occur as a result of overcrowded, humid conditions with poor ventilation like in kennels and pet shelters. Poor sanitation and nutrition as well as stress on your pet’s immune system can contribute to cold and flu infections.
Diagnosing Colds and Flu
The diagnosis of colds and flu is based on the symptoms presented and a thorough physical examination of your pet. Certain tests such as a complete blood count, the laboratory testing of microorganisms may be performed.
Help for Colds and Flu
The treatment for viral infections usually involves good nutrition, plenty of fluids and keeping your pet warm and comfy with bed rest. Warm you pet’s food as they may experience a loss of smell, use eucalyptus treatments as an inhalant for the respiratory system and bear in mind that proper sanitation remains important to ward off infection and disease.
Regular vaccinations will also help to keep these infections at bay. However, if a secondary bacterial infection develops as a result of the viral infection; your vet may prescribe antibiotics.
Natural and holistic treatments have proven to be highly effective in providing relief for humans as well as pets with respiratory problems. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies are safe and gentle to use without any negative side effects.
Carefully selected herbs such as Verbascum thapsus (Mullein leaves) and Sambucus nigra (Elder flowers) strengthen the respiratory system including the nose, lungs and throat. Homeopathic ingredients such as Calc.sulph, Ferrum phos and Hepar.sulph help to maintain open airways, clear noses and eyes, and support a healthy immune system.
More Information on Colds and Flu
There are several things that you can do to prevent colds and flu in
pets and promote a healthy immune system:
- Feed your pet high quality commercial food or a well balanced, natural diet that contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
- Make sure that your pet always has plenty of fresh water available
- Exercise your pet regularly to promote overall health and wellbeing
- Clean and disinfect your pet’s food and water bowls and sleeping environment regularly
- Incorporate immune building herbs such as Echinacea, garlic, elder or astragalus into your pet’s diet to strengthen the immune system and prevent infection
- Ensure that your pet has the appropriate vaccinations before taking them to into overcrowded situations such as boarding facilities, kennels, puppy school or dog or cat shows as this will increase their risk of infection
- If your pet attends a dog or cat show, make sure that the area is well ventilated because there chance of infection will also be increased
- Use a humidifier in your home to alleviate congestion in your pet and ease his breathing
- Avoid smoking around your pet as second-hand smoke aggravates the respiratory tract
- When using toxins and chemicals such as household detergents around your home, remove your pet from the area as they will make your pet more susceptible to infection