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5 things to know about dog flu

Published: Thursday, April 16, 2015 @ 7:07 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 @ 9:31 AM
By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The large outbreak of dog flu in the Midwest has triggered fear among dog owners across the country. Over 2,000 new cases have been reported since March 2015, and several dogs have died. The new strain has been detected in at least 40 states, and as far west as Washignton state.


Barkpost breaks down the dog flu outbreak by responding to the most common questions pet owners have.


What is dog flu?


Dog flu, also known as canine influenza, causes primarily respiratory issues. Symptoms, which may take up to 10 days to appear, include coughing, sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy and loss of appetite. Most dogs contract a mild form of the virus and only require supportive care to recover.


Is it contagious?


Yes, just like with human influenza, dog flu can be spread by close contact. Two particular strains of dog flu are suspected in the Midwest outbreak: H398 and H3N2. The latter, a newer strain, is believed to be responsible for more serious symptoms and even deaths, according to the Associated Press.


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Can dog flu be prevented?


To reduce your dog’s risk of getting dog flu, consider the dog flu vaccine. It does not eliminate the risk of your dog getting canine influenza entirely, but like with the human flu vaccine, can reduce illness length and severity. Make sure to keep your dog away from other dogs who appear ill and do the same if your dog shows any signs of illness. If there is an outbreak of dog flu in your community, steer clear of public areas like dog parks.


How serious is the ongoing dog flu outbreak?


It is serious but is being controlled. While the number of 2015 cases is larger than in an average year, there have been relatively few deaths or reports of serious illness. Most of the more serious cases are responding to antibiotic treatment.


Can other pets or humans catch the dog flu?


Cats and potentially other animals can become infected with the newer strain H3N2. Humans cannot catch dog flu.