Believe it or not, dogs can actually get the flu. Yes, canine influenza is a thing. And it has been showing up in the South the past few weeks including several cases in Texas. Just like in people it can be very contagious.
What it is
Canine influenza is a flu style virus that infects dogs. No evidence to date suggests transmission to people, nor does our flu infect dogs.
Where it occurs
Dogs that are most at risk to becoming infected with canine influenza are those who tend to congregate where other dogs are. Parks, boarding kennels, doggie day care, grooming salons, walking/running trails, sporting venues like softball parks, puppy training classes, or dog shows are places where dog flu can be spread.
Signs of flu
About 80% of dogs that contact the flu virus become infected and show symptoms. Another 20% can become infected but remain symptomless, however, they can shed the virus. Signs of canine influenza are similar to “kennel cough” but can be much more serious and sometimes fatal. Severe long lasting cough, high fever, inappetence, listlessness, nasal or eye discharge, and sneezing can all be symptoms. These pets can remain sick for several weeks depending on the severity of the disease.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine that has been developed for canine influenza. It’s recommended that all healthy dogs that may be subject to exposure be vaccinated. Two vaccines 2 to 4 weeks apart are recommended the first time, followed by yearly boosters.
Canine influenza has become a real concern due to it’s severe impact on dogs. At the Rannals Small Animal Hospital, we do have the vaccine. Even if you think your pet might rarely go to a place where the virus might be present, we recommend you vaccinate. In this case, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Call us at 903-839-7235 to set up an appointment.