It’s nothing like the bird flu – humans can’t get it. But your dog may be at risk. In the past 3 years, a highly contagious strain of dog influenza surfaced – alarming a lot of pet owners. And for good reason. When it first broke out, 36% of the infected dogs died. And a lot of people, and experts, were concerned that the virus would be a nationwide problem, lethal for dogs. To make matters worse, there’s no vaccine.
The good news is, it hasn’t rolled out the way people feared. It is still around, but it hasn’t hit everywhere – only 25 states have reported problems - and about 90% of the dogs that do catch it, have a mild case and bounce back to full health. But any dog that’s exposed to the virus will catch it. So here’s what you need to know according to veterinary immunologist Dr. Cynda Crawford.
- First, the virus spreads through contact with other dogs, just like a human flu spreads from person to person. For dogs, it can happen in kennels, shelters, and dog parks – any place where dogs are in close contact. So it’s important to keep your pet away from sick dogs. If you have a puppy or an older dog, their immune systems aren’t as strong. So be extra careful.
- Now here’s how to recognize it: If your dog has a persistent cough for 24 hours, call your vet. Also look for thick, green nasal discharge or difficulty breathing. Those symptoms could signal a severe case that’s turning into pneumonia.
- And here’s how to treat it: Definitely call your vet if you suspect your dog is ill. Most dogs feel better in a few weeks with a little TLC. In some cases, your dog will need antibiotics to clear up respiratory or sinus bacterial infections. And if it’s severe, your dog may need IV fluids.
So take care of the furry member of your family the same way you would any other member. especially since dogs can’t tell you when they’re not feeling well. And be on the lookout for symptoms.