As the days shorten and the weather cools, we begin to see the signs of a different season all around us. Sure, it’s the season of giving and twinkling lights and family togetherness, but it’s also another kind of season altogether—flu season. That might prompt you to head to your doctor’s office and get yourself a flu shot (and you should). But what about Fido?
In February of 2018, the canine flu made its way to Idaho. The outbreak laid to rest speculation whether canine influenza, H3N2 or H3N8, would make its way to the Treasure Valley. Likely contracted through doggie daycare, the Boise dog’s illness reminded us all how even in our quiet valley, we’re not immune to an epidemic. This year’s Boise case of canine flu could well be the first of many without careful precautions taken by pet owners and veterinarians. Here’s how you can be part of the solution to stop canine influenza in its tracks and keep your dog safe.
Nothing to Sneeze At
Just like the human flu, canine influenza isn’t always fatal. For healthy pets, the dog flu usually isn’t anything more than a severe cold and doesn’t require medical intervention. In around 10% of cases, however, the flu proves fatal. Generally, geriatric dogs, young pups, and dogs with preexisting health conditions are at the most risk when it comes to canine influenza. However, in rare instances, even young and healthy dogs can die due to complications from the flu.
Because “herd immunity” works well to curb the outbreak of diseases such as the canine flu, Intermountain Pet Hospital began requirement mandatory flu vaccines in all doggie day camp and pet lodging pooches, ensuring that no outbreak will happen on our watch. Unfortunately, not all day camp facilities take this kind of precaution. It’s essential for all pet owners to do their research and protect their pets from potential disease.
Like the human form of the flu, the canine flu is airborne and spreads through respiratory secretions, such as sneezing, coughing, and barking. It can spread rapidly among dogs, because as you might imagine, everyone in a shared play area is mouthing the same tennis balls, licking the same water bowls, and sharing their germs affectionately. In some cases, asymptomatic dogs (around 20-25% of all cases) will still spread the disease.
Protect Your Dog With a Flu Shot
If your dog isn’t already vaccinated against canine influenza, it’s time to get the shot today. Make an appointment today to schedule your dog’s immunity-boosting vaccination. Your dog’s life could depend on it. If you believe your dog may have the flu, look for these symptoms:
- Coughing (both moist and dry coughs)
- Nasal discharge
- Discharge from eyes
- Lack of activity/lethargy
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
Even if your dog doesn’t have the canine flu, these could be symptoms of kennel cough, or a respiratory infection and your vet should be notified immediately. ’Tis the season to protect your pets—schedule your exam today.