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Chicago’s Pet Sitter and the Canine Influenza Virus

Well, I needed something to inspire me to make my first blog post, and this topic is just begging for me to jump in and share some crucial new information, as well as my thoughts.  As I’m sure all of you know by now, there’s been a ridiculously strong case of the canine flu making it’s way into Chicago’s homes, shelters, and daycares.  Weeks into it, veterinary clinics are still overrun with new cases and, sadly, the death toll has now risen to 6.

There’s a ton of information out there about symptoms and treatment, as well as suggestions to keep your dogs away from day care centers, dog parks, and to prevent coming into contact with other dogs while on their walks.  This is all very useful and critical information we need to keep our pets safe and healthy.  What we didn’t know until yesterday, however, was that this virus CAN AFFECT CATS!  Until now, we’ve been told otherwise, which may have done many Chicago dog walkers, pet sitters, and of course pet owners a great disservice.

In fact, this is a total game changer.  As responsible pet sitters, the first thing we need to do is to make sure ALL of our clients are aware of the possible transmission to cats.  Next, we have to do everything in our power to ensure that we aren’t helping to spread the illness.  The short of it is this……nothing on your Chicago pet sitter or dog walker that came into contact with one cat or dog should also come into contact with another.  Walkers and sitters must either be provided with protective gear (i.e. gowns, gloves, footies) or simply change clothes and wash their hands and arms between each visit.  It’s cumbersome, time-consuming, and it costs money.  But, if all that work saves just one life, it’ll be well worth it.

As a pet guardian/owner please also consider taking the following steps to prevent this dreaded virus from entering your home:

  • Stay far away from dog parks, day care centers, shelters, pet stores, and anywhere else you’d expect to find a lot of dog traffic.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog and/or cat for all the usual flu symptoms: lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, coughing, fever.
  • Steer clear of all other dogs on your walks and shorten walks to minimize exposure to the surfaces the virus has been transmitted to.
  • Check online for updates on the epidemic:  I’ve found Blum Animal Hospital to be a fantastic reference -

Wishing you all a healthy, safe, and happy week!


Christopher Dill

Owner/Chief Care Coordinator

Sunshine Pet and Home Care