What should you do if your dog has the flu?
The dog flu, or more scientifically known as the canine influenza virus, has been on the rise, with multiple cases in the Western Nevada area.
There has been two confirmed reports of the dog flu at the Carson Tahoe Veterinary Hospital, and around five other suspect cases, according to veterinarian Lisa Lewis.
Matthew McSweeney, a veterinarian from the Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital, says there have been several highly suspect cases of the flu at their operation. There has also been numerous reported positive cases in Reno and Sparks.
DogFlu.com claims, “This respiratory infection is relatively new, so almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when exposed because they have not built up natural immunity. Most dogs that develop an infection caused by this virus have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment in a veterinarian’s office.”
The dog flu is much like the human flu, and is airborne. It can pass between dogs through particles in the air via coughing or sneezing, or can be passed by physical contact. It can be transferred indirectly through dog bowls and toys.
McSweeney and Lewis advise the best form of prevention for the dog flu is vaccination, and to keep things clean. Routine cleaning of your dog’s food and water bowls and toys with soap and water may help prevent the spread of disease.
The Lone Mountain Veterinary Hospital has been holding canine influenza vaccine clinics on the weekends. On Feb. 10, they vaccinated over 75 dogs. The Carson Tahoe Veterinary Hospital also provides vaccinations.
Other advised ways of prevention include using a reputable kennel or doggy daycare facility that you trust. Make sure the facility is well-managed and clean, and that they have a plan for isolating dogs with signs of illness. Be aware whenever you are in high dog traffic areas with your pup, such as the dog park, the groomers, or even shelters.
“If you think your dog is sick, call the vet immediately. There are tests available. Also make sure the facility has a separate area to keep the virus contained to prevent spreading,” said McSweeney.
Lewis added, “This flu cannot affect humans, but it can possibly affect cats. We haven’t seen it yet, not in the United States, but it is possible, so be aware of that.”
If your dog is in fact diagnosed with the dog flu, antibiotics and cough suppressants can be provided for them to help get better.
The disease was first recognized in 2004 by University of Florida researchers and Cornell University virologists working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention following an outbreak of severe respiratory illness at a Greyhound racing facility in Florida.