As cases of canine influenza have increased in several parts of the United States this winter, veterinarians are advising dog owners to get their pups immunized.

‘We don't usually post medical information, but dog flu is on the rise in Texas. If you take your dog to dog parks or your dog mingles with other dogs, ask your vet about getting a flu shot.“ — Lost Dogs in Texas, a Twitter account for missing pets

There has been a noticeable increase in cases of canine influenza, also known as dog flu, in certain regions of the United States this winter, such as Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and North Texas, as reported by CBS News.

As a result, many veterinarians are advising pet owners to consider getting their dogs vaccinated against this infectious respiratory illness.

What Exactly Is Canine Influenza?

Per The Huff Post:

Canine influenza is a super-contagious respiratory infection that primarily spreads through large respiratory droplets, which dogs expel when they cough, bark and sneeze. (Sound familiar?) The virus can also spread through contaminated surfaces, like water bowls and places where dogs congregate (think groomers or doggy day care), Greenstein said. Dogs can also spread it by rubbing noses with one another.”

What’s Causing the Current Outbreaks?

Per The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Canine influenza is a viral infection that primarily affects dogs, but can sicken cats, too. Currently, two strains have been identified in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2. The latter was first identified in America in March 2015 among ill dogs in the Chicago area. Prior to 2015, cases of canine H3N2 influenza virus were contained to South Korea, China, and Thailand. Both strains can be traced to influenza strains known to infect animals other than dogs, such as birds and horses, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that canine influenza is not a fatal disease, and there have been no documented incidents of the virus being transmitted from dogs to humans.

However, per the CDC, the influenza virus undergoes constant changes, which increases the possibility of canine influenza eventually being able to infect humans. The World Health Organization closely observes any modifications in emerging human viruses.

What Are the Symptoms?

If a dog is experiencing a mild case of canine influenza, it may display symptoms such as a persistent cough that is soft and moist, lethargy, sneezing, and loss of appetite. On the other hand, if the infection is more severe, the dog may develop signs of pneumonia and have a high fever.

According to the American Kennel Club, only about 10% of cases result in a fatality.

It is important for dog owners to seek veterinary assistance right away if they observe that their pet has stopped eating or is having difficulty breathing.

What Is the Treatment?

Canine flu currently has no cure. However, your dog's veterinarian should be able to prescribe medication to relieve symptoms. The Washington Post reports that this could include pain relievers, cough suppressants, and appetite stimulants.

Pet owners can protect their furry friends by getting them vaccinated with a preventive vaccine, which is administered by a veterinarian. However, the availability of vaccines is limited, and numerous clinics are experiencing shortages and extended waitlists.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

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