ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Board of Animal Health is encouraging dog owners to visit their veterinarian and get their pets vaccinated against the highly contagious canine influenza virus after a recent outbreak of the disease in the state.

Canine influenza is a respiratory disease that can spread rapidly. Dogs often exhibit a cough, low-grade fever, tiredness, disinterest in food, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Vaccination helps reduce the severity and duration of these symptoms if a dog becomes infected. Any dog showing signs of canine influenza, vaccinated or not, should be isolated from other dogs for 30 days.

There have been four confirmed and nearly 200 suspected cases in the state in recent weeks, including five in St. Louis County. Vaccine manufacturers are starting to fulfill orders for Twin Cities veterinary clinics where Minnesota’s outbreak has had the greatest impact. However, some clinics may still not have adequate supply due to vaccine shortages.

Dog owners who send their dogs to day care, attend community dog events, visit dog parks, or regularly interact with dogs outside their immediate household, such as hunting training and field trials, are highly encouraged to talk to their vet about vaccinating their pet and other ways to reduce the risk of canine influenza.

“Vaccination is a crucial part of responsible pet ownership. Talk to your veterinarian about your animal’s vaccine needs and make sure they’re being met to keep your companion healthy,” said Dr. Veronica Bartsch, senior veterinarian in charge of companion animals for the board.

Vaccinating dogs against canine influenza helps safeguard their individual health and well-being and that of the greater canine community. Puppies, elderly dogs and those with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to severe complications secondary to canine influenza. Vaccination offers crucial protection for these vulnerable individuals.

The disease can occasionally be severe in dogs and may even result in pneumonia or death. No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported.

Dog owners can find resources and view outbreak case counts at

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at [email protected].

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