Clusters of canine flu have developed across the nation, with reports of the illness being reported in 46 states. The illness is characterized by symptoms that include coughing that lasts for up to 30 days,fever, fatigue and reduced appetite.
What to Know
The current flu stains, called H3N2 and H3N8, were first identified in the United States in 2004. Because the virus is so new to the country, dogs haven’t developed a natural immunity that allows them to effectively fight the virus. The lack of natural immunity allows canine flu to spread easily among dogs,especially in group settings like boarding facilities and dog daycare centers.
Clusters of the illness have been highest in Ohio, California, and Kentucky, but canine flu poses a risk to dogs living outside these areas. Nearly all dogs who are exposed to the virus develop symptoms, but the virus is usually nonfatal and may cause only mild symptoms in some pets. Although the canine flu is spread easily, it is also preventable.
Protecting Your Pets
The canine flu shot is the best way to prevent the illness. The vaccine is effective for both strains of canine influenza and is available from your veterinarian. If your pet visits a daycare, boarding, or grooming facility, the flu vaccine is particularly important to prevent the illness.
If you are traveling to an area where higher numbers of canine flu have been reported, consider leaving your dog with a trusted friend or family member. You should also consider leaving your pet at home if they have flu symptoms to avoid spreading the illness into other regions
Choosing to vaccinate pets not only prevents the illness, it also helps stop the spread of canine influenza. If your dog is has flu-like symptoms or seems sick, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. While canine influenza is rarely fatal, serious complications like pneumonia are possible.