Dogs can fall victim to the flu just like their human owners can. Dog flu is spreading across the country at an alarming rate, faster than ever before, and with it come certain precautions all pet owners should take and symptoms they should know. While this particular canine flu strain is different than the one that affects humans, it is just as serious.
This flu season has brought dog influenza to everywhere from California to Washington, Pennsylvania, and even Canada–and is considered to be highly contagious among dogs. A San Francisco clinic reported 50 cases in just two weeks.
Recently, an Indiana veterinarian notified pet owners of a spike in flu cases. Meredith Engerski, along with the Allisonville Animal Hospital, cautioned people to keep an eye on their dogs in case they presented flu-like symptoms, as dog influenza cases continue to rise in Indiana, according to a local Indiana news station.
If not treated in a timely fashion, dog flu has a 10 percent mortality rate and can be fatal for cats as well. The virus can be spread through barking, coughing, and sneezing when pets are in close contact with infected animals. It can also spread through kennels, dog shelters, groomers, and dog daycare centers.
“If the pets are unvaccinated, you definitely don’t want to take them to daycare centers or kennels,” said Dr. Daniel Brauer, a vet at the Dayton South Veterinary Clinic, to WHIO News. “Your pet just needs to sniff it, and they will get it if they’re not vaccinated.”
The majority of dogs that are exposed to the flu become infected, and 80 percent show symptoms such as coughing, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite, and a running nose. In some cases, they can also develop pneumonia. If your pet begins to show any of these symptoms, you should take them to the vet immediately for medical treatment.Related: 5 Illnesses Your Pets Can Spread to You
To help protect your furry friend from the flu, be sure to disinfect all leashes, toys and water bowls, along with any other items that come in contact with other dogs, and immediately wash your hands as soon as you arrive home. It is recommended that you speak with your veterinarian about the flu vaccine designed for dogs, as it may not be ideal for every dog.