What all dog owners need to know about the dog flu outbreaks

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Every dog owner has been hearing about the dog flu, and as some media platforms have everyone worried with phrases like “canine flu outbreak in the Northeast,” or dog flu reaching epidemic levels,” perhaps it’s time to deal with the facts. During the winter, dogs in Chicago were affected by the flu; this summer there have been sporadic cases hitting Florida. Even Arkansas and both North and South Carolina have reported cases of the flu. More than 40 states have since reported cases since July 1, 2017.

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So let us begin with the origin of Canine Influenza H3N8. For the past 40 years, the equivalent of what has now evolved into the dog flu had been plaguing horses as an upper respiratory virus. For years the H3N8 had been reported in Asia; how it came to the United States remains unclear, but it’s here and we have to deal with it.
Dogs can contract canine influenza from other dogs which can lead to respiratory distress and occasionally death in the most severe cases. If your dog is exhibiting any of symptoms associated with the flu, take him to the veterinarian. Respiratory issues need to be treated as  medical emergencies.

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Symptoms may not always be obvious, but certain tell-tale signs should set off your pet parent alarms. These include coughing, sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy and lack of appetite. The illness seems to carry a ten day incubation period from when your dog was exposed.

If you’re wondering how the flu is spread, it’s not much different than how humans and especially children spread diseases – kisses, sneezes, coughs and shared toys; oh with other dogs that is. Be especially alert at dog parks, grooming salons, day care play grounds and any heavily populated areas.

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And then finally, we need to know how to keep our pups safe besides the most obvious; hanging out with other fluffy friends. A canine flu vaccination does exist, and although the two shot regime done three weeks apart doesn’t necessarily prevent the virus, it does reduce the length and severity.

A report earlier this week by Channel 10 News in Amarillo, Texas warns pet owners to stay vigilant. Dr. Merten Pearson of Noah’s Ark Pet Hospital agrees no cases of dog flu have been reported in Amarillo, but certain venues can create a dangerous risk that your dog might come in contact with the disease; citing dog parks in particular.

“Dog parks are like kindergarten,” said Pearson. “Everybody brings their dogs from around and everybody gets together and shares germs.”

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(Photo of dog flu pup via cvm.ncsu.ed)For more information about the dog flu, click here.

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