It’s that time of year; with the kids back at school and germs on the rise, everyone is more susceptible to the flu, even our pets. That’s right: with a recent canine influenza outbreak in the Midwest, dog owners are concerned and asking questions. So, today we’re breaking down everything there is to know about dog flu and what we can all do to be prepared….
Q: What is canine influenza?
A: Canine influenza is a respiratory disease in dogs. There are two currently strains identified: H3N8 and H3N2. Both are considered highly contagious. Frustratingly, influenza viruses are able to change quickly and develop new strains.
Q: Where have dogs been diagnosed with the flu?
A: Dog flu was first diagnosed in Florida in 2004 and has since spread around the country. States affected with the flu include Chicago, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Montana, Louisiana, and North Carolina, among others. At the moment, canine influenza has yet to spread to New York or New Jersey, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stay vigilant and up to date on its whereabouts.
Q: How is it transmitted?
A: A dog can become infected by being in close contact with another dog with the virus, especially in kennels, dog parks, groomers, crowded sidewalks, and shelters. Again, it is highly contagious and spreads similarly to a human virus via respiratory secretions (coughing or sneezing) or by being in contact with a contaminated object like a leash or collar. The virus, while originally transmitted via horses, has only been shown to affect other dogs, and in some cases, cats.
Q: What are the symptoms, and what is the treatment?
A: A common question is whether you can tell if your dog has the flu. Yes – once exposed, an infected pup will feel under the weather and may cough, sneeze, run a fever, and have a loss of appetite. Luckily, the virus is rarely fatal. Veterinary guidance is recommended if a dog shows signs of the flu, and a vaccine is available for at-risk canines.
Have more questions? We’ve found this website about canine influenza to be very helpful and informative. If your state has been infected, we recommend taking a look at this article, which outlines prevention and control in detail. Meanwhile, we always urge pet owners to practice cleanliness and safety when it comes to petting other dogs and letting your own furry friend interact with other canines. Hoping everyone’s four-legged pals are healthy and happy!