It’s not only flu season for people, but for dogs as well. You may be hearing about the increasing prevalence of canine influenza in our area. Infected dogs from other parts of the country have brought two strains of this contagious illness to northeast Ohio.
Should you be concerned?
Dogs that spend time around other dogs are considered to be at high risk. Frequenting dog parks, boarding and grooming facilities, obedience classes and dog shows increases the danger of contracting canine flu. The virus is airborne and easily passed from one dog to another. It can also be transmitted on objects like shared toys or bowls. Dogs are contagious before symptoms of illness appear, so even letting your dog socialize on walks can expose him or her.
What are the symptoms?
About a week after exposure, a sick dog may begin coughing and sneezing. You may also see discharge from the eyes or nose. Dogs can also become lethargic, run a fever, or lose interest in food. In severe cases pneumonia, which can be fatal, can develop. If you see any of these symptoms of illness, make an appointment for your dog to see a doctor as soon as possible.
How can you protect your dog?
Keeping your dog isolated from other dogs will provide the best protection; however this is rarely practical (or fun). Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital has recently begun offering a canine flu vaccine that’s effective against both H3N2 and H3N8 strains. Initially given as a two shot series about three weeks apart, it’s repeated annually. The vaccine reaches full effectiveness two weeks after the booster, so plan accordingly if your dog will be going to a high risk environment. Vaccinating will decrease the chance of your dog becoming sick with the flu and will reduce the length and severity of illness if it does occur.
With the incidence of canine influenza expected to grow, take steps now to protect your dog. Appointments can be scheduled through our pet portal or by calling our office at 216-321-6040.