Dog Flu was going around. So, naturally, I tried to keep my then 14-year-old Cocker Spaniel away from it. That’s because he was so old, even back then. (Now he’s 16.) Also, at the time, he had recently recovered from a bout of some sort of gastrointestinal distress. So I wasn’t taking any chances, at least until the epidemic passed.
This meant no more trips to the groomer, at least while the flu was going around. And he won’t be visiting the vet, unless there was a dire medical emergency.
So I had to figure out a way to keep him smelling okay, until this threat is gone. If I had a younger dog with a more robust immune system, I wouldn’t be as worried. I’d take some prudent measures, such as not letting him play with sick dogs. I’d probably stretch out grooming visits. But I wouldn’t drastically change our lifestyle. Of course, I’d be feeding him a very healthy diet, to keep his immunity in top shape.
With a very elderly dog, things are different. (The biggest issue was the smelliness. Older dogs tend to smell a lot worse than puppies. If you’re not aggressive about keeping them clean, they can stink.)
How to Avoid the Dog Flu
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According to various other published reports, most dogs recover, after dealing with this apparently highly contagious illness. But not all of them survive. Some deaths have been reported. I’m not sure how many dogs have died, since I don’t know if anyone is keeping numbers.
Some of the symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose and appetite loss. I’m not a licensed healthcare provider, so I can’t give medical advice as to how to avoid this outbreak. All I can do is share with you what I’m doing to protect my dog. So, if you’re worried about this flu, talk to your vet about what steps to take, since he or she is familiar with your dog.
Anyway, here’s what I did to keep my dog as healthy as possible.
- I’m trying to keep my dog’s immune system in top shape. Right now, as he’s so old, I’ve decided to just give him people food. He eats a lot of organic family meals with pink Himalayan salt sprinkled on them. I couldn’t keep this up when he was younger. That’s when I fed him a high-quality grain-free kibble. This is only practical because I’m working at home, so I’m able to cook for my dog. It won’t be very practical if we take a trip, and someone else is caring for him. Needless to say, we wouldn’t put him in a kennel.
- I will take our dog for walks around the neighborhood. But he won’t be sniffing droppings from other dogs. Nor will he get close to other dogs on these walks. (This won’t be too difficult. He still has a dog aggressive nature.)
- No dogs will visit our house. (This won’t be much of a problem. Our dog has never liked other dogs anyway. He probably missed out on important socialization earlier in life. We adopted him at the age of three.)
- No vet visits, unless we’re dealing with a life-threatening situation. (I’ve decided not to vaccinate him for canine flu.)
- We’ll need to avoid the groomer. This is something I wish we didn’t have to do.
New Strain of Dog Flu
On another website, there was a reference to signs being posted in a public park in Chicago, warning dog owners about this outbreak. So, if I was in the habit of walking my elderly dog in place where dogs run free, I’d probably stop.
Since groomer visits are off the table, I’ll do my best to keep him clean at home. This is often a losing battle, because of his ears.
Dogs with short pointy ears don’t get as dirty. Cocker Spaniels, on the other hand, pick up a lot of dirt. Their ears hang low. So they hit your dog’s food bowl, where they pick up anything that’s wet. Getting the gunk off seems to help reduce doggy odor. Here is a recipe I’ve used at times to keep my dog’s outer ears clean, until we can get him to the groomer.
- 1 ounce of natural black soap.
- 10 ounces of water
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
Mix these ingredients together and put in a large plastic bottle. You can also store them in a glass jar and use as needed. This mixture needs to be shaken before use.
Black soap is very gentle. I gently rubbed this on my dog’s ears, and used a clean towel to wipe it off. I’m also planning to use this as a gentle body rinse for my dog, omitting the baking soda.
The above recipe is also one I’ve to clean my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. That’s because it’s so mild and gentle on the hands.