I’ve heard that there is a flu virus that impacts dogs. In this age of COVID-19, this news worries me. What is the dog flu and should I be concerned that my dog might contract it?
Worried about the Dog Flu in Garden Oaks
Dear Worried about Dog Flu,
While the whole world is on pins and needles over COVID-19, many don’t know that there is a virus that impacts dogs that often makes the rounds in the United States this time of the year. Luckily, the “dog flu” isn’t usually life-threatening when treated and isn’t transmissible to humans.
Symptoms of dog flu
“The most common symptoms of canine flu include coughing and lethargy as well as decreased appetite and fever,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. “In some cases, the infection can progress to pneumonia, especially when the flu is complicated by other respiratory bacteria or viruses.”
The canine flu should be treated as soon as possible. If you are worried your pet is experiencing symptoms of the canine flu, contact your veterinarian before going into their office. This allows the veterinarian to prepare for the visit and potentially decrease exposure to other pets. If you live in an area where the canine flu has been reported, consider keeping your dog away from other dogs by staying clear of the dog park or dog kennels.
Canine influenza is a relatively new virus in dogs, but there are vaccines available to help protect your pet. The vaccine does not prevent your pet from getting infected or spreading the virus, but it may reduce your pet’s symptoms.
“The vaccine is recommended for pets that go to dog shows, including hunting and agility; are kenneled or boarded; visit grooming salons or doggie day cares regularly; or are around a high number of dogs that visit these areas,” Eckman said.
No masks for Fido
If your pet becomes infected with the canine flu, a veterinarian can provide supportive care and medications to make the pet feel better. In the meantime, consider your options for preventing your pet from facing this illness again in the future, such as with a vaccine.
And, unlike humans during the COVID crisis, your dog doesn’t need to wear a mask, but please consider reducing direct contact between your dog and strange dogs who might carry the virus as well as limiting the sharing of water and food bowls.
As a pet parent, it is important to provide your dog with excellent healthcare. Talk with your veterinarian about reducing the chances of your dog being impacted by canine influenza.
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