Is the puppy not feeling well? It could be dog flu

If that wasn’t enough to worry about you and your family getting sick this winter – with the so-called “triple sickness” of flu, COVID and RSV – now you might have to keep an eye on Fido as well.

Recently, an outbreak of canine flu hit Charlotte, North Carolina and closed several dog shelters there. Now veterinarians in Waco say several dogs in Central Texas have also tested positive for the virus and suspect a small outbreak in the region is possible.

According to Dr. Laurie Teller, a veterinarian and associate professor at Texas A&M University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, while the flu can cause discomfort in dogs, the good news is that it is rarely fatal. She told the Standard about how to keep your dog healthy and what to do if you suspect she might have the flu. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: What is Canine Flu? Does it, as the name suggests, look like the human flu?

Laurie Teller: It’s very similar to the flu that people get. Fortunately, it is not contagious to humans and only infects our dogs. But it is a respiratory disease that can make dogs feel unwell. They may be lethargic, they will sneeze and cough, they may have nasal discharge, their appetite may be somewhat reduced, and they really just feel terrible.

Is it a fatal disease or not?

Lethal outcome is rare. We don’t usually see dogs die from the flu. They are very sick. They just don’t feel well. And then it will pass within 1-2 weeks, and they usually return to normal. Dogs that may be very young, very old, or have other comorbidities are more susceptible to complications such as pneumonia and may need to be hospitalized, given fluids, and the like. And that’s why a dog rarely dies from canine flu.

Well, that’s good to hear. But some of the symptoms that you mention, how can you tell some of them from, say, other problems like kennel cough or allergies and things like that?

Not necessary. They may be similar. Dogs with a kennel cough don’t usually feel that bad, but of course it’s a spectrum. So the only way to really know if it’s canine flu or another cause of a respiratory illness is to get tested.

Is this a seasonal virus? Is there any reason to believe that this year could be worse than usual? Or do you suspect it’s just getting more attention? You know people are wary of viruses like COVID and RSV.

In our dog population this is not seasonal. But I do think we are on high alert for any viral outbreak, be it humans, dogs or other animals. We see it happening where dogs usually congregate. So, dog day care, boarding houses, dog parks, and whatever, where dogs are in close contact with other dogs, and that’s where it tends to spread.

Well, you know, it’s time to take the dog to the kennel and all that. With so many people traveling on vacation, how can people protect their pets?

There is a vaccine for canine flu. This does not necessarily completely prevent the disease, but it certainly alleviates the symptoms. So the dogs don’t get sick. They don’t feel as bad and recover much faster. And any dog ​​that is going to live in a boarding house or go to daycare, things like that, their owners should definitely talk to their veterinarian about the canine flu vaccination.

Is this what dogs usually get each year? I’m talking about a vaccine. Or do you need to specifically ask?

This is not part of the main series of vaccines because dogs that have never been in contact with other dogs do not necessarily need it. So you need to ask for it. And it starts as a series of two so your dog will get one and then come back in 2-4 weeks and get a booster. And then the annual vaccination.

Lori, some practical advice for pet owners: if your dog gets sick, what should you do? Should I take them to the vet or do they recover on their own? Is there anything you can do to comfort an animal that may be suffering? What would you say?

There are definitely medications that can be used to relieve symptoms and make your dog feel better. So it’s worth talking to your veterinarian and when you call to make an appointment let them know that you have concerns that your dog might have canine flu or kennel cough because they will want to bring your dog into the room immediately and isolate him from other dogs that may be in the facility to avoid its spread. Or they may want to go out to the car and look at your dog. So let them know. But there are medicines, as well as for flu and colds. But don’t give your dog human medicine. Some of them can be very toxic. But talk to your veterinarian about what you can do to help your dog feel better.

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