If you own a dog, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about canine influenza. If you’re like me, you’ve owned dogs your whole life and never heard about it until the last couple of years, though. And now your vet tries to push the vaccine on you every time you go in. Apparently, it’s a real thing and it’s currently surging. And like the human flu, it’s highly contagious so your pup can pass it to all his dog buddies. But, good news, there is the afore mentioned vaccine out and it’s helping stymy the spread.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

[From People]

So the pros are that this is finally one respiratory infection we humans can’t get. And that the vaccine will alleviate some of the worse symptoms. The bad news is that you can’t explain to a dog why they aren’t allowed to play with their friends or why they’re sick, so the heartbreak will be worse than the human flu for you.

By all accounts, the canine flu acts like the human flu in symptoms and treatment. Fido needs water, food and rest if they have it. Apparently, it’ll take about two or three weeks for them to get over it. Dogs are usually better about staying down when they feel poorly. I was resistant to getting the vaccines because it just seemed like every time I went to the vet there was something new to inject in them. But my friend who is up on this stuff said the canine flu vaccine is very important if you take your dog to dog parks, beaches or other communal areas. I don’t live in a surge state, but it’ll be here soon enough.

The biggest difference will be that when I get sick, I like a nice warm bath. I can promise you my dogs are not going to want anything to do with the tub if they get sick.

Photo credit: Matthew Henry, Conner Baker, Dominika Roseclay, Pixabay and Valeria Boltneva of Pexels

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