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Canine Flu Season is Here

The canine flu can make your pet miserable, but is rarely fatal.

While your dog can’t catch the flu from you or other people, he can catch it from other dogs. This year, cases of canine flu are on the rise. It’s very contagious, so if your dog is being boarded, visits dog parks or even has regular play dates with other dogs, he is likely to be exposed to the canine flu virus.

Symptoms of Canine Flu

Fortunately, in most cases a dog’s bout with influenza is relatively mild. He may get a runny nose, the sniffles, aching muscles and lethargy. If your pet comes down with it, plenty of rest and lots of fluids may be all you need to do.

If Fido’s symptoms are more severe, such as coughing, wheezing, loss of appetite and a fever, you should consult with his veterinarian. In some cases, a dog could spike a fever as high as 106 degrees or develop pneumonia. But don’t take your pet to the veterinarian’s office without checking first, as the flu is highly contagious and your pet could pass the canine flu virus on to other dogs. This year, Florida, Arkansas Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, Texas, Indiana, New York, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and the Carolinas as well as a dozen other states have reported canine influenza outbreaks.

Two Strains of Canine Flu

There are actually two distinct strains of the canine influenza virus. Most pets will catch the more common one – H3N2, which has been seen for years in the United States. The more severe H3N8 strain first broke out in the U.S. in 2004 at dog racing tracks in Florida and has spread to other areas since then. It is more likely to bloom from a mild case of the sniffles to a full-blown case of pneumonia than the H3N2 flu. In both the H3N2 and H3N8 influenza strains, dogs can be contagious even after their symptoms have resolved, so it’s a good idea to keep them away from other animals for at least two weeks after they’ve recovered.

For more information on canine influenza, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association‘s website.

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