Just when you thought flu season was over, dog influenza has begun to spread again. Previously, canine influenza was in the form of H3N8, but has produced a new strain, H3N2. Leaving Chicago, H3N2 has reached 13 states and is invading dog’s respiratory passageways causing body ache, fever, exhaustion, nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing. This flu in particular isn’t necessarily fatal, although, it can morph into other potentially deadly illnesses when left untreated. It is also highly contagious. So what can you do to keep your dog safe?
This virus strain is generally new. In 2007 it evolved from a bird virus in Asia and found its way to Chicago as a mutated form of canine influenza. Today over one thousand dogs have contracted it. The virus spreads through facial contact or indirectly though infected surfaces. 20-25 dogs didn’t even show symptoms. But, if you see appetite decreases, exhaustion, or other cold like symptoms, take your dog to the vet. There, the influenza can be easily detected through simple tests. There is no medication for specifically H3N2 yet, so if your dog is infected the best thing to do is make sure he or she is comfortable and well rested with lots of clean drinking water. And remember, the flu could develop into something more severe.
The most important thing to do is keep your dog isolated if you notice any symptoms or suspect an illness. Dog parks, kennels, or playgroups could increase the spread of the virus if found in your area. However, this doesn’t mean that your dog is in for the summer. The reports of infected dogs have decreased. Even Chicago, the ‘hotspot’, has reopened kennels and parks. Nevertheless, still take necessary precautions. If your dog is staying in a kennel, insure the kennel is aware of the virus and symptoms. It is also important that they collect records of vaccines.
Connecticut officials say not to panic about the virus, but not to ignore it, either. So, make sure to be watchful for any irregular behaviors or symptoms. It could end up being just a cold, but don’t take any chances; take your dog to the vet if something could be wrong.
Read the full Connecticut statement here.