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Is the Dog Flu Life-Threatening?

June 21, 2017


Many dog owners in our area have expressed concern about the potential for their animal to catch the "dog flu". Although the virus is not new to the U.S., the first diagnosed case in North Florida did not occur until recently. As for concern over the health and safety of your pet, the canine version of the flu behaves much like its human counterpart. If you suspect your dog has influenza, it is prudent to contact your vet's office ahead of time so arrangements can be made to limit your pet's exposure to other animals while at the clinic.

Symptoms of the dog flu are also very similar to that in humans. Repeated episodes of sneezing or coughing are two of the more obvious signs. As is the case with humans, an infected dog may run a fever, have a loss of appetite and may appear to not feel as well or be as active as they normally would be. Just like humans, dogs infected with the virus need a quiet place to recover, additional rest and plenty of fluids. If your pet exhibits signs the he or she is sick, it's important to keep them away from other dogs.

K-9 influenza is highly contagious and is usually transmitted by an infected animal sneezing or coughing. So, avoid the dog park and stay home from doggie daycare until all your pet's symptoms have subsided. As a pet owner, you too can transmit the virus by carrying it on your skin or clothes. For communal dogs, pet toys are a common culprit for transporting the virus from an infected dog to one that is not. Most dogs will get better on their own in 2-3 weeks. The high-risk group for complications include dogs with a chronic health condition, puppies and older dogs. Like humans, the flu virus can lead to a more serious health condition like pneumonia.

The University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine said there have been more than a dozen cases of the dog flu reported in the state and some in north Florida. If you live in an area where there has been an outbreak of dog flu, or your pet often comes in close contact with other dogs, it might be a good idea for them to get a flu shot. Although the flu shot cannot always prevent the animal from being infected with the virus, it will lessen the severity of symptoms and likely reduce their recovery time.

If you are concerned about your dog's health, contact PrimeVet and schedule an appointment with one of our caring veterinarians. An ounce of prevention could be work a pound of cure.

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