H1N1 and Your Pets (Really!)

The H1N1 virus has everyone concerned, and with good cause. Luckily, it appears that the virus won’t pose a big risk to dogs and cats. It can spread to other pets however, such as turkeys and pigs. You should also be careful if you have a pet bird as they have sensitive respiratory systems that are susceptible to other human illnesses (such as colds.)

“Many species can become infected with influenza viruses, but the current 2009 H1N1 virus, which is a mixture of genetic material from different species, has not been identified in animal populations in the United States to date,” says Dr. Miranda Spindel, Director of ASPCA Veterinary Outreach. “These viruses are notoriously unpredictable, though, and it is important that we remain vigilant.”

It is still important to pay attention to your pets however, as the virus could mutate. What can you do to make sure your pet stays safe? Here are some suggestions:

Ask your vet about vaccinations for your pets. Keep your cat indoors, or keep a close eye if you let them outside. Just like in people, pets spread germs through saliva, so avoid sharing bowls and toys with other animals. Keep an eye on your dog/cat to make sure they are behaving normally. If you do notice that they may not be feeling well (not eating, drinking, playing as usual), check with your vet right away.

If you are feeling flu symptoms, you may want to limit contact with your pet until you are feeling well again. Even though the spread of the virus is unlikely between human and most animals, it’s still better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of your pet. 

EDIT: Since the writing of this article, there have been confirmed cases of H1N1 in dogs. Please be sure to visit your vet if you suspect your pet has been infected.

To learn more, please visit the ASPCA’s official statement on swine flu.
Read more:


Swine Flu Vaccine: What to DO?

H1N1 Vaccine – Tested In Animals First

Safety Concerns Swirl Around H1N1 Vaccine



Keep Swine Flu Out Of Your House

Swine Flu Symptoms & Prevention

Swine Flu:  The Single Best Way to Prevent Illness

Swine Flu Parties

Swine Flu: Can Cinnamon Fight It?



My Life With Swine Flu

H1N1 A Challenge For Working Mothers

Toxic Pollution And The Swine Flu Vaccine

The Experts: Swine Flu (H1N1) Experts And Bill Maher On The Vaccine And Managing Your Risk

H1N1 And Your Pets (Really!)

Lily Rosen

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Fiona T.
Fi T.2 years ago

Don't say this is impossible

Lindsey DTSW
.5 years ago

Actually, they aren't giving us a vaccine for 'last year's flu strain'. Health officials study the situation and try to predict as best they can which strains are going to be most prevalent - and vaccine is manufactured accordingly.

Monica M.
Past Member 5 years ago

The Swine Flu vaccine has not been proven safe for people and yet the author suggests vaccinating our pets?? The "seasonal" flu vaccine is another way for big pharma to make more money! This year's flu vaccine is outdated as it's made from last year's flu strain -- and as we all know -- the flu virus mutates a little each year.SEO Packages

Lily D.
Lily D.5 years ago

Other than humans, pigs, turkeys, ferrets, big cats, cats, dogs, and many birds can get the 2009 influenza virus. If you think your pet has any form of the swine flu, take him/her to the vet immediately. there is not H1N1 vaccine for pets, however, there is a canine influenza virus which protects dogs from H3N8, and only works on dogs. For non-humans, the virus is only serious for ferrets, and very few have died.(cdc.gov 2010)Most pets can not give you H1N1, but you can give it to them. Pets ,happily,cannot give H1N1 to other pets.(JanetCrosby2010) If you get the virus, and you have pets, take precautions just like they're like children;
 *cover your coughs
 * clean up; throw away your snot tissues
 * wash your hands frequently
 * minimize contact with them for 24 hours.
 (msnbc 2010)

Lindsey O.
.5 years ago

Terri - this year's flu vaccine isn't 'outdated' - they look at each year's situation and decide which strains are likeliest to occur - and create the vaccine based on that.

"Each seasonal influenza vaccine contains three influenza viruses-one A (H3N2) virus, one regular seasonal A (H1N1) virus (not the 2009 H1N1 virus), and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body."


Obviously they don't just give us the vaccine for last year's virus. I'm afraid that's an 'old wives' tale'!

AntiSocial CatO
.5 years ago

shoulnt be ignored

Elaine Dixon
Elaine Dixon5 years ago

reading pet magazines and about the H1N1 virus, people are giving it to their pets, being the books I read is about cats it says that a sick person spreads it to their cats because the cats wants to be around the sick person.

Terri Hyatt
Teresa Hyatt6 years ago

My only concern for my pets is what will happen to them should I die from this or some other cause. Everyone who has animals should have some back-up Just In Case, including a card in their wallet advising emergency personnel that they have pets and the name and phone number of someone to care for them.

Catherine O Neill

No way No I'm not getting the shot so neither are my pets!!

Terri S.
Terri S.6 years ago

Well said, Deb H.! NO more vaccinations for our pets. The Swine Flu vaccine has not been proven safe for people and yet the author suggests vaccinating our pets?? The "seasonal" flu vaccine is another way for big pharma to make more money! This year's flu vaccine is outdated as it's made from last year's flu strain -- and as we all know -- the flu virus mutates a little each year. Just beef up your immune system and practice preventive measures such as frequent hand-washing and avoiding people who have the flu. As for pets, do the same -- provide plenty of clean water, a good nutricious diet (free of grains, by-products, etc.) and give them immune boosting herbs and supplements.