As canine influenza has spread to at least 46 states, veterinarians are recommending that dog owners bring their pets in for a newly-released vaccine to help curb the spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly disease.
According to Cornell University, at least 2,000 dogs have tested positive for canine influenza since 2005. It spreads through direct contact with infected dogs, contaminated items, and nasal secretions and spreads year-round, unlike the human flu.
Dr. Jennifer Bonovich, a veterinarian in South Carolina, told Fox News:
“If you notice the signs, get in touch with your veterinarian, knowing that this can be a very serious disease and it can cause severe illness. Some cases do require hospitalization and it can cost several thousand dollars.”
Jodie Strait is all too familiar with the impact dog flu can have. After attending a dog show in St. Louis with her Calabrone Australian Shepherds, all 7 of her dogs fell ill. They all wound up fighting for their lives, and 6 of the 7 can no longer be shown. She told Fox News:
“Sitting alone with a dog gasping for breath in the middle of the night was horrific and something I would not wish on anyone. I told (the dogs) they owe me nothing. Just please, please keep breathing…Just breathe… I was one of the lucky ones – mine survived.”
Canine influenza may start off seeming like something less severe, like kennel cough, but it can progress quickly. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, lack of energy, diminished appetite, and breathing problems. It can be detected with a simple blood test.
Strait wants to encourage dog owners to vaccinate their pets against the dog flu.
“Don’t just keep saying it can’t happen to you because it can. It can happen to anybody. It’s really scary and, honestly, the shot is way cheaper than the vet bill.”
So, how can you be sure your dog is protected against canine influenza? Get your dog vaccinated, wash your hands after touching other dogs before you interact with your own, and limit your dog’s exposure to other dogs.
(H/T: Fox News)