Pets

What is the dog flu? Canine influenza spreading across U.S.

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As most of us know by now, this flu season has been one of the most aggressive yet.

It has grown to epidemic proportions, reaching all corners of the country and killing several people along the way.

And now we have another flu to worry about: The dog flu.

Just like their owners, dogs across the U.S. are coming down with flu-related symptoms due to widespread canine influenza, according to a report by WESH 2.

Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, fever, decreased appetite and nasal discharge. While another illness could be responsible, pet owners are advised to take their dogs to the vet’s office to get it checked out.

Though the strain is different from the one affecting humans (and no, it can’t be transmitted) it’s just as dangerous and even more contagious among dogs.

Cases of dog flu have been popping up around the country including in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and now Canada, according to Newsweek. In one San Francisco clinic, for example, about 50 cases came in in just two weeks, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

If not treated, canine influenza might even lead to death, with a mortality rate of 10 percent, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The disease is “transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing repiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing,” the association says. “Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places such as kennels, groomers, day care facilities and shelters are at increased risk of infection.”

If your pet is unvaccinated, officials warn against taking them to public places with other dogs like kennels and day care facilities.

You can also take other protective measures like disinfecting leashes, toys and bowls and washing your hands when you get home.

Samantha Putterman: 941-745-7027, @samputterman

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