Did you know that dogs can get the flu, too? Just like people, dogs can catch the flu from their furry buddy at the dog park and pass it on to another dog…or even cat (Luckily, they can’t pass it on to their human friends). The Canine Influenza virus recently made its way to Florida, a state in which it had not been seen before, bringing the issue back into the news.
So what is Canine Influenza? Canine Influenza exhibits symptoms that are similar to the human flu, such as coughing, runny nose, fever, lethargy, and poor appetite, but it can become more serious. Pneumonia and other severe illnesses can develop if the flu is left untreated. It also spreads in a manner similar to human flu. It can be transmitted from an infected dog at the kennel, groomer, dog park, or any place where dogs come into close contact with one another. The virus can live on surfaces such as food and water bowls, toys, or any other shared items. In fact, people can carry the virus from dog to dog, as the virus can live on our clothes and hands.
How do you prevent the spread of the Canine Influenza? First and foremost, if you notice that your dog has symptoms of the flu, keep him or her away from other dogs. Second, practice good hygiene. Make sure all shared items are clean, especially if an infected dog came into contact with them. If you have come into contact with a sick dog, make sure you wash hands, clothes, and anything that may carry the virus. If your dog shows any signs of the flu, contact your vet to make an appointment. Most dogs will only be ill for two to three weeks, so the sooner you catch it and start treating it, the better.
Vaccinate! There is a Canine Influenza vaccine available at your veterinarian’s office. My dogs go to the kennel for boarding whenever we go on vacation, so they are required by the kennel to have their Influenza shot. It’s a quick and easy shot that my vet recommends they get every year. If your dog spends time around other dogs, you should look into getting the vaccine. Speak to your veterinarian to see if your dog could benefit from this preventative care.
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