Flu season is in full swing, and humans aren’t the only ones sick. Dogs across Northern California are coming down with the flu, and researchers from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine believe it could spread throughout the Central Valley region.
Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a highly contagious airborne virus that moves quickly and can affect dogs of any age, breed, or health status. When dogs play or greet one another, they are often physical and swap saliva. Dogs spread the virus to one another through nose-to-nose contact, coughing and sneezing, or making contact with infected objects such as food and water bowls, kennel surfaces, dog beds, and collars and leashes.
Almost all dogs exposed to the virus become infected and most develop flu-like illness, so it’s important to remain proactive to protect your dog, especially if you board or groom your pets. Dogs that regularly spend time at the dog park or a boarding facility are most at risk.
Canine flu symptoms involve the respiratory system, and range from mild to severe. Warning signs include:
- Persistent coughing
- Nasal or eye discharge
- Sluggish energy
- Reduced appetite
Protect Your Pet
These particular strains (H3N2 and H3N8) of canine flu are more contagious, and some boarding and grooming facilities will require the canine influenza vaccine. We highly recommend the vaccine for all boarding and grooming clients—the vaccine requires an exam to ensure that your dog is in good health, followed by a booster three weeks after the initial dose to continue preventing illness.
Avoid exposing your dog to other sick dogs, and wash your hands after handling any dog, especially after handling a sick dog. If your dog does become ill, be sure to isolate your sick pet from other animals in your household and contact us immediately so that your veterinarian can begin treatment.