Flu Season Not Over Yet – Chicago Pooches Caught Up In “Dog Flu”
Sneezing, runny nose, cough and fever? Well it is flu season, but I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about your best buddy.
Yes, the nasty flu bug has jumped sides and is now impacting dogs in Chicago with a vengeance. In a situation area vets describe as nothing short of “epidemic”, more than 1,000 cases have been diagnosed over the past month with numbers growing and five succumbing to the disease. The Chicago Park District has even taken the unprecedented step of posting warning signs at dog parks to advise owners to keep a close reign on their pooches, avoid contact with other dogs and enter the park at their own risk.
Related: Kennel Cough Symptoms And Treatments
Canine Influenza (dog flu) is similar to the human form in that the illness can be spread through coughing, sneezing and nose-to-nose contact with infected surfaces (or infected noses!) and while rare, it is highly contagious when it does strike.
Discovered 11 years ago, the virus does eventually dissipate from the impacted area however for the interim there is no built-in immunity for dogs and though 20 to 25 percent don’t display symptoms, there is no way of knowing if your dog is carrying and spreading the virus.
So take that page from your office hand-book that states when you are sick with the flu, stay home! Experts agree the best way to control the epidemic is to limit contact with other dogs. That nose-to-nose socialization is how the virus spreads and it occurs at dog parks, dog training classes, boarding or grooming facilities and daycare. This also goes for dog walkers who take multiple animals out at one time.
A two-part canine flu shot does exist and is spaced about three weeks apart. But similar to the human flu shot, there’s no way to guarantee it will ward off a particularly nasty flu bug. It can however, limit the length and severity so is recommended for all high risk dogs.
At the end of the day, if your little guy is displaying any of the flu symptoms, keep him away from other pets and get him to his vet as soon as possible. And remember, all social dogs should have their Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine.
More by Mary Simpson