Many rumors have been swirling about canine influenza, or “dog flu” for short. Here are some important tips about the virus and what you need to know for your pups at home.
1. Canine influenza is a viral illness, and there are two different viruses that can cause the flu in dogs. There is currently an epidemic of dog flu in the Midwest which is caused by the H3N2 virus.
2. There have not yet been any reports of the current strain of dog flu in Maryland, D.C., or Virginia. There is still a possibility that it could spread to this area. The current epicenter, however, is in the Chicago area.
3. Signs of the dog flu include cough, runny nose and fever. Dogs that are infected can develop pneumonia and can become very ill. It is recommended that you consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s symptoms.
4. All dogs are at risk for infection, but the risk is highest for dogs in communal housing (shelters, kennels, etc.)
5. There is a vaccine available, but it is not directed against the strain that is currently active in the Midwest. It isn’t clear whether the vaccine will offer any benefit against the current strain.
6. As far as we know, the dog flu can’t be transmitted to humans, but there is some evidence that cats have become sick as the result of exposure to infected dogs.
If you’d like more information about canine influenza, here are some suggested resources.