If you’re a dog owner in Chicago, you’ve probably been hearing some buzz about canine influenza, or dog flu, that’s going around. If you’re concerned about how you can keep your dog from getting the flu, look no further: we’ve compiled a list of things you need to know about this outbreak and how you can keep your pets safe.
How Dogs Are Exposed
In the past week or two, more and more reports have been broadcast notifying dog owners about the risks of dog flu. Dogs have been exposed at dog day care facilities, dog parks and other group facilities for dogs, like training centers. Some dogs are even exposed when they stop and “converse” with another dog on their daily walks, if that other dog is infected. Essentially, the hard reality is that any dog that is around other dogs is at risk of contracting dog flu. The virus can be spread from contaminated objects to uninfected dogs, and by moving contaminated objects between infected and uninfected dogs.
Symptoms to Watch For
Dog flu symptoms typically show up in 80 percent of infected dogs, and include a cough that lasts from 10 to 30 days, and perhaps greenish snot or nasal discharge. Dogs with a more severe form of the illness may exhibit a fever or develop pneumonia—though not caused by the influenza virus itself but by secondary bacterial infections as a result of the flu-weakened immune system. Watch out for your dog acting lethargic, a loss of appetite, or if they are acting much differently than they usually do, like not wanting to play. If your pooch is exhibiting these symptoms, you may want to bring them to your vet just to be safe.
Prevention and Treatment
The best prevention is to keep your dog away from any place where they might contract the virus. If you typically keep your dog in doggy daycare, consider pulling them for a week or two. If your dog is not sick, you can bring him or her to the vet for the dog flu vaccine, which is given twice with a two-week break—the vaccine can only be given to dogs that do not already have the virus though, so if your pup’s already sick, treatment is the only solution. Treatment is largely supportive care, including medication to make your dog more comfortable, fluids to ensure that your pooch stays well-hydrated, and some extra TLC. Antibiotics may be needed if your dog develops a secondary bacterial infection, as well. When walking your dog, make sure that you avoid other dogs, which may require you to take alternate routes.
Keep a good eye on your dog and you’ll be able to catch symptoms early if you notice them. Dog flu can be dangerous, but there are ways to help keep your dog safe.