Back in 2015, the State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services noted the appearance of a highly contagious strain of dog flu was making the rounds in here in the U.S. While it was said the condition was not typically fatal with proper treatment, the illness saw more than one animal hospitalized as a result. Unfortunately, it looks as if the dog flu has reared its ugly head in Florida now, with seven dogs confirmed and treated for the virus and six more canines awaiting test results.
U.S. Dog Flu
Veterinarians at the University of Florida treated the infected dogs and say those that were hospitalized are now in stable condition, but if left to its own devices the strain can progress to pneumonia. Symptoms associated with the illness are the same symptoms that humans experience, which are coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever and lethargy. So far, the experts say it is not contagious to humans, but cats are apparently another story. Dog or cat, you should take them to the vet if they start exhibiting any of these signs.
Voluntary Pet Quarantine
Because dogs have no natural immunity to the flu and the virus is able to live for as long as 24 hours, pets can be exposed and infected on walks, at dog parks, boarding facilities, grooming parlors or even the vet’s. If you suspect one of your pets could be ill, it’s recommended that you immediately separate him or her from other household pets until they’ve seen a vet and the diagnosis can be confirmed or dispelled. If it is ruled out, then no harm done. If it’s verified, however, your pet will need to be quarantined for up to four weeks or more.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the virus was originally identified in Asia during the first decade of the 21st century, where scientists believe the avian flu somehow made the leap from infected fowl to dogs. In 2015, there was an outbreak among animals in Chicago, IL. From there, roughly a thousand pets fell ill as the virus spread throughout the Midwest. Back then flu vaccines were seldom recommended, but that’s about to change in Florida.
According to Dr. Marta Lista, a veterinarian at Trail Animal Hospital in Miami, “It’s very contagious, so you have to be careful. Most dogs don’t have immunity and they don’t have vaccines. It’s not going to be easy to contain. If they go to a dog park and sneeze and this spreads 10 feet, this thing can spread very quickly.” The AVMA says nearly all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, but only 80 percent show symptoms, the most common being a cough that can last up to three weeks. Lista’s practice will now make vaccines available for dog and cat owners, especially those at high risk.
Again, if you suspect your pet may be suffering from dog flu, no matter what state you live in, don’t hesitate. Separate them from other animals and get them to a vet. Better safe than sorry. Please help spread the word and share this article!