As a dog owner, you’re probably aware of the news that a new and sometimes fatal strain of canine influenza, or dog flu, is going around. And just like its human counterpart, the dog flu is contagious, and can be easily spread between dogs.
Here’s what you need to know now to keep yourself and your dog healthy.
For starters, make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
“They should have their pets vaccinated for the new strain of H3N2 and it should be boosted in 2 to 4 weeks and then it is good for one year,” said Dr. Tom Watson, at Carolinas Veterinary Medical Hospital.
Symptoms of dog flu include fever, coughing and sneezing, and eye or nasal discharge, and lethargy. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that about 80% of all dogs who come in contact with it get infected. Puppies, older dogs, and dogs who are already sick are more likely to have serious complications — like pneumonia — from dog flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have not been any reported human cases of canine influenza. However, it’s always a best practice to wash your hands after handing dog bowls, kennels, crates, etc., especially if handing more than one dog.
Some states, like North Carolina, are tracking the spread of the dog flu through the Department of Agriculture. Check that resource here:
Dogs who are more “socially active” are more at risk for catching the dog flu. So if dog parks, doggie day care, kennels, or groomers, are on your calendar, take care. Dr. Watson says limiting your dog’s exposure to other dogs, even if they’re not sick, will help prevent the spread of the virus.
As always, if you think your dog might be sick, make an appointment with your veterinarian to get your dog a thorough examination.