Canine flu is so contagious that the Minnesota Humane Society asked dog owners to keep their pets at home instead of taking part in Saturday’s annual Walk for Animals. The rapid spread of the illness has prompted concerns. However, there are steps you can take to keep your pets safe.
Can’t Buy Love
If you have ever formed a bond with an animal, you know how important that relationship can be.
In America, we human’s shelled out $136.8 billion to keep our pet friends happy and healthy last year. According to Forbes Advisors, that was 10.68 percent more than the $123.6 billion we spent the previous year.
The average outlay on dogs was $730 in 2022, reports Forbes.
A Tale of Two Viruses
Canine Flu is caused by one of two influenza A viruses.
The H3N8 influenza A strain first appeared in the United States in 2004. It is believed to be a mutation of equine influenza. The second strain, H3N2, appeared in Chicago in 2015. This strain is believed to have been a result of a transmission of avian flu originating in Asia.
You Are Safe – Your Cat is Not
Influenza viruses are constantly changing and adapting, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, to date there have been no reported cases of humans contracting canine flu.
That is not the case for cats.
In 2016, cats in an Indiana shelter were infected through contact with shelter dogs, reports the CDC. Investigators at the shelter also found evidence that cats could spread the disease to other cats. There is also evidence that guinea pigs and ferrets can be infected.
Vaccines are available for dogs. Generally, they range from $20 to 55 plus an office visit fee.
The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) reports that 80 to 90 percent of dogs exposed to canine flu contract the infection.
Since Canine flu is so contagious, the best practice to protect your pets is to keep them away from other dogs or cats.
However, before putting your animals on a lockdown, Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine suggests calling your vet to see if the virus is active in your area.
In addition, Merck Animal Health has published an interactive map tracking outbreaks of Canine flu since 2007. So far, the infection has been reported in 46 states.
Symptoms and Treatment of Canine Flu
Despite the rapid spread of canine flu, some animals do not exhibit symptoms. However, most do.
Your dog may develop a persistent cough, similar to kennel cough. The pet could also develop a fever and discharge from eyes and nostrils. In addition, the animal could lose appetite and become lethargic, according to the AVMA.
Most dogs recover from the infection in two to three weeks, notes the AVMA. However, there is potential for development of a secondary inflection which could result in pneumonia even leading to death. Although the mortality rate from canine flu only is 10 percent.
The AVMA recommends that pet owners whose dog or cat exhibit symptoms of canine flu contact their veterinarian for testing and treatment.
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