TAMPA, Fla. – Canine flu has recently been confirmed by officials in Florida and Georgia and may have spread to other states, so experts at BluePearl Veterinary Partners are offering this list of recommendations to help pet owners keep their dogs safe.
This strain of the canine influenza virus, called H3N2, is highly contagious. The H3N2 virus is the same strain of canine flu that was blamed for sickening more than 1,000 dogs in the Chicago area in 2015. The flu spreads quickly from dog to dog through particles in the air. Dogs in close contact at areas such as dog parks, dog shows, grooming parlors and kennels may be most at risk.
University of Florida veterinary officials recently confirmed more than a dozen cases of the disease, all stemming from dogs who were at recent dog shows in Deland, Fla., or Perry Ga., or who were exposed to dogs present at those shows.
Doctors at BluePearl, a nationwide provider of emergency and specialty veterinary care, recently treated confirmed cases of canine flu in Chicago and Houston, and they have evaluated possible cases in Atlanta; Louisville, Ky. and Tampa, Fla. BluePearl hospitals observe strict infection control protocols to prevent flu and other diseases from spreading among patients.
Canine flu can make dogs seriously ill so pet owners should take steps to educate themselves about how to prevent it. Symptoms of the flu include sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, decreased appetite and general lethargy. In rare cases, it can lead to pneumonia and difficulty breathing.
“Canine flu is usually not life-threatening, but it is very contagious,” said Dr. Beth Davidow, BluePearl’s Director of Medical Quality. “If you see these symptoms, it is very important to keep your dog away from other dogs and to contact your veterinarian.”
How do you know if your dog has caught the flu and what can you do about it? Please take a look at this tip sheet:
- Symptoms of canine flu include coughing, sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, decreased appetite and general lethargy. Flu can appear to be similar to other diseases such as kennel cough. Contact your veterinarian if your dog develops any of these symptoms.
- Do not take your dog straight to your veterinarian’s office if you suspect the canine flu. Why not? Because this could infect other dogs in the waiting room. The first step is to make a telephone call to your primary veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital such as BluePearl. A veterinarian or technician may choose to meet your dog in your car or the parking lot, to protect other dogs.
- If you are in an area where canine flu has been reported, consider keeping your dog away from other dogs. In other words, you may wish to stay clear of the dog park.
- A vaccine is available for the H3N2 canine influenza virus. Talk to your family veterinarian to see if this is a good choice for you.
- Don’t panic. While canine flu is serious, the number of confirmed cases is relatively low. Take precautions and you can greatly reduce the chances of having your dog catch this flu.