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The 5 Things to Know About URIs

What You Should Know About Upper Respiratory Infections

By Madeleine Burry. November 20, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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The 5 Things to Know About URIs

An upper respiratory infection for pets is the equivalent to the common cold for humans. It is highly contagious and can be contracted from frequent visits to a kennel, among other causes. Here's what you need to know.

Are you concerned about your cat or dog’s upper respiratory infection? Find out how to prevent an infection, tips on making your pet more comfortable as the URI runs its course, and when a followup visit to the vet is necessary.

1. They’re Very Common

An important thing to know about upper respiratory infections is that much like the common cold for people, URIs are highly contagious and incredibly common. If your pet is considered at high risk for an upper respiratory infection -- whether because of frequent visits to a kennel or because of their breed -- a vaccination is likely a good idea.

2. A Crowded Problem

In crowded places, like a kennel, shelter, or the groomers, the likelihood of a cat or dog contracting an upper respiratory infection is quite likely. One of the main ways that URIs spread is through contact -- if there are multiple animals crowded in one area, the chances of interacting with a cat or dog that is under the weather are higher. And in general, many pets do not enjoy being around a lot of unfamiliar animals, which can cause cats and dogs to feel stress and anxiety while staying in shelters and being boarded. This stress can lead to a weakened immune system, further increasing chances of sickness.

3. Symptom-Free Carriers

Even after pets recover from an upper respiratory infection, they can still carry the disease and spread it to other animals in their vicinity. This is known as shedding, as cats and dogs shed the virus through their hair, saliva, feces, etc. Even though they themselves may be healthy and display no symptoms, they are still capable of spreading the disease to other pets.

4. Contributing Factors

Even under the right -- or wrong! -- conditions, any pet can get an upper respiratory infection. However, some cats and dogs are more inclined to contract a URI than others. For instance, kittens and puppies are more likely to get a URI, as are older pets with weaker immune systems. Stress increases the chances of getting an upper respiratory infection, and certain breeds of cats, including Persians, are also more vulnerable.

5. Drugs Aren’t Always the Answer

Although in some cases antibiotics will be prescribed to handle pneumonia or other secondary infections that may develop, in general, antibiotics are not necessary to treat upper respiratory infections. Rather than going straight to antibiotics, vets will often recommend treatment aimed at quelling symptoms, from delectable dinners to bring back pets’ appetites, to cough medications, to ointments and warm towels for eye conditions.

More on Preventing Illness

Preventing and Treating Asthma
How to Prevent Heartworm

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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