Humans aren’t the only ones suffering from this winter’s extreme flu season, with veterinarians across the United States advising dog owners to get their furry friends vaccinated.
“Canine flu is one of the infectious respiratory things that we can see in dogs,” Dr. Jess Fejes, medical director of the Veterinary Emergency Group, told Fox 29.
Canine flu symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny eyes and nose, fever, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. Although there are limited treatment options after a dog becomes infected, there is a preventative vaccine. Although this is not a basic puppy vaccine, dogs who are at risk of catching the flu virus can receive it from their veterinarian.
DogFlu.com shows a map of dog flu outbreaks across the United States, including recent outbreaks in nine states including: New York, Texas, Florida, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Veterinarians are now having the flu vaccine discussion with dog owners. They say not all dogs need the vaccine, but if a dog is social, that’s something an owner should consider.
“It’s going to be somewhat specific, depending on the region and what they’re exposed to, but, in general, dogs are exposed to a lot of other dogs, dogs in dog daycare, boarding, things like that,” Dr. Fejes explained.
If pet owners choose to keep their dog unvaccinated, there are still ways to ensure your dog stays safe this flu season. Viruses spread through the air, so places where dogs congregate, like dog parks, can be risky for man’s best friend.
“Canine flu is transmitted by droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing. Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places such as kennels, groomers, daycare centers and shelters are at increased risk of infection. the American Veterinary Medical Association explained. “Canine flu can be spread indirectly through objects (eg, kennels, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) or people who have been in contact with infected dogs.”
According to a Florida veterinary office, a flu shot will only cost between $25 and $35.
Dog owners should always be on the lookout for warning signs. If your dog stops eating or has difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian. Vaccinating your dog against canine flu may not completely prevent infection, but it can reduce the severity and duration of illness, the American Veterinary Medical Association has advised.