Dog Owners Urged to Vaccinate Pets as Canine Flu Cases Rise in Some U.S. Regions

sick dog for canine flu explainer
sick dog for canine flu explainer

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Canine influenza, commonly known as dog flu, is on the rise in some areas of the United States.

This winter, veterinarians have reported a surge in cases in Philadelphia, Minneapolis and North Texas, according to CBS News, and many are urging pet owners to have their dogs vaccinated against the contagious respiratory disease.

Dr. Lori Teller, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), previously told PEOPLE that, unlike human influenza flaring up in the winter, dog flu spreads year-round. "Outbreaks of canine influenza flare up from time to time," she said.

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"The good news now is that there is more awareness and knowledge of the virus, and there are vaccinations available to help protect your dogs," Dr. Teller added.

Although vaccination may not entirely prevent the infection, it can "reduce the severity and duration of the illness," according to Teller. Pet owners can discuss the vaccination with their veterinarians to decide if it's appropriate for their dogs.

dog health warning
dog health warning


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, canine influenza is not life-threatening and there have been no reported cases of the virus spreading to humans.

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Symptoms of the milder form of dog flu include a soft, moist, persistent cough, lethargy, sneezing and loss of appetite. More severe forms of dog flu may cause canines to develop high fevers and signs of pneumonia. Dog owners are advised to contact their veterinarian immediately if their pet stops eating or has difficulty breathing.

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"The flu is spread by contact from dog to dog. Owners who suspect their dog has the flu should monitor dogs for signs of disease and seek veterinary care if they believe their dog may be sick. This helps to prevent the disease from spreading to healthy dogs," said Dr. Teller.

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The milder form is treated similarly to how humans recover from flu. Dr. Teller advises "making your dog as comfortable as possible" and ensuring they have "access to good nutrition, fresh water and a quiet place to rest. Most dogs recover from canine influenza within 2-3 weeks."