While spring will hopefully be here soon, the dreaded flu season is already with us. The flu is particularly bad this year, doctors have warned, and has already infected plenty of humans out there. But did you know that your dog can get the flu, too? Here are some warnings and prevention tips so that your pup can stay happy and healthy.
Influenza A, or H3N2, which is the flu that is currently hitting many Americans, is the same type of flu that is hitting the dog population. Of course, Canine H3N2 is a different strain from the human H3N2 - mostly because it's a doggy-virus. But the way the flu spreads in the doggy-world is quite similar to the way it spreads in the human world.
Just as it does for humans, Canine H3N2 can be spread though close contact, like coughing or sneezing near other dogs. For canines, barking at each other can also spread germs. Your pup is at highest risk to catch the flu if they are frequently in areas shared with other dogs, like kennels, boarding centers, and dog parks.
Currently, Canine H3N2 is most active in southern Ohio, northeastern Tennessee, San Jose, and San Francisco, as determined by officials at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine. However, even if you aren't in these areas, there's still a chance that your dog might become infected.
So, how can you stop it? While there's no real way to simply prevent your dog from getting the flu, you can minimize their chances by being cautious about their socialization. While you want your dog to be able to hang out with their friends at the park, just be cautious. Consider setting up play dates with doggy friends who you know don't have the flu. If you typically board your pup during the day, you could consider hiring a dog-walker during the peak of flu season.
Even if you minimize your pup's outside contact with other dogs, there is still a chance they could catch the flu. Because of that, you'll want to keep an eye out for symptoms. Some indications that your dog might have the flu are:
If you think your pup might have the flu, it's best to take them to their vet to get them tested. If your dog is diagnosed, your vet might prescribe them so medication or might just order lots of fluid and rest.
Try to stay healthy this flu season! Make sure that you and your furry best friend are getting plenty of rest and water.