What’s a Pet Owner to Do About the Canine Flu?
You have likely been hearing rumblings about canine influenza in the area. While the canine flu isn’t a new disease, we have recently seen an uptick in cases in the Massachusetts area. So what is this dog flu? Do you need to worry? And more importantly, what can you do to protect your pet? Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital is happy to answer all your questions.
Facts about Canine Flu
While the dog flu has been around for about 15 years at this point, it is relatively new in the grand scheme of canine infectious diseases.
It first made its appearance on the greyhound racetracks in 2004, but was rather isolated and not a concern to the general public. In 2015, however, a new and second strain of canine flu appeared in the Midwest. This H3N2 strain of canine influenza became the culprit behind many outbreaks of kennel cough throughout the country.
Canine influenza is a respiratory disease spread by nose-to-nose contact between dogs as well as respiratory secretions left on objects such as toys, bowls, enclosures, and even clothing. Infected dogs exhibit symptoms including:
- Nasal discharge
Most pets with normal immune systems are able to fight off the infection, possibly with a little help from symptomatic treatments. A small percentage do need to be hospitalized, and there have been a few dogs across the country who have developed a fatal pneumonia as a consequence.
Pet Owner Priorities
While we have known about canine flu for awhile now, the threat hasn’t been imminent until recently. It is more important now than ever that our pet owners take action to protect their pets.
Perhaps the most important step that you can take in doing battle with the dog flu is to have your pet vaccinated. The doctors at Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital have been recommending vaccination for the last five years to our patients. In fact, it is a boarding requirement for us as well.
If your dog is a social pooch, frequenting areas such as grooming salons, boarding facilities, dog parks, or training classes, vaccination is one of the most effective things that you can do to offer some protection. If you aren’t sure if your dog is protected, or have questions about whether the vaccine is right for your dog, please call us so that we can help you.
Of course, avoiding areas where canine flu may be transmitted is also an option. If you have a very young, very old, sick or otherwise immunocompromised pet, this may be advisable. For most healthy, vaccinated dogs, though, this is probably not necessary.
Most importantly, don’t forget that you are your pet’s best advocate. Early intervention helps us to help your pet better. If you notice your pet isn’t acting quite normally or is exhibiting signs of illness, make an appointment right away so that we can get started helping.
The canine flu is nothing to sneeze at. Thankfully, we are ahead of problem and always here to help protect your pets.