Dog Flu: Veterinarians Warn Against Highly-Contagious H3-N2 Virus, Advise How To Protect Your Pet [Video]

dog flu

Veterinarians are warning again about the spread of “dog flu,” a highly-contagious canine illness which is caused by the H3-N2 virus. Although healthy dogs who catch dog flu should weather the H3-N2 virus just fine, the most recent strain of dog flu has made at least 2,000 dogs sick in over 40 states, according to Fox News.

Veterinarians are advising owners to make sure their canine pals are up to date on their bordetella and flu vaccines, since in rare cases the dog flu can lead to pneumonia, require your dog to be hospitalized, or even lead to death. The H3-N2 virus, which is one cause of dog flu, was first detected in 2007 in South Korea, but did not make its way over to the United States until April, 2015, when it was detected in dogs in the Chicago, Illinois, area, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most recent detection of the disease was in Texas and Missouri.

While the dog flu cannot be spread to humans, and is different than the seasonal H3-N2 virus that effects humans throughout the globe, it is highly contagious between dogs. Canines in kennels, rescue shelters, hospitals, and other areas where there might be large numbers of dogs, such as dog parks, are most vulnerable. According to the CDC, dog flu is specific to canines, so other animals, such as cats, will not be able to catch it.

While dog flu is largely spread by the air, such as if an animal sneezes, the CDC advises that it can also be spread when healthy dogs come into contact with objects, such as a chair, that have been recently visited by a sick animal.

Dr. Christi Belew, from Union Hill Animal Hospital, spoke to Fox 4 News in Kansas City, Missouri, and revealed that veterinarians are concerned about the dog flu. “The big problem is we don’t know where it’s going to hit next,” Dr. Belew said, adding that veterinarians also don’t know “when it’s going to hit.”

So, how can you tell if your dog is suffering from dog flu? Dr. Belew advises that as the dog flu advances, “you can actually see signs of a cold. So they can have a cough, a runny nose.” If your dog suddenly seems disinterested in his food, or if she does not want to play, it might be time for a visit to the vet.

To protect your dog, there are some steps you can take. According to PetMD, general symptoms of dog flu are coughing, sneezing, fever, malaise, and anorexia. Other signs of the H3-N2 virus are gunky eyes, a hacking cough, and a runny nose. Owners are advised to keep their dogs away from any other pooches that display those symptoms of dog flu.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention also advises that not every dog infected with the H3-N2 virus will show symptoms.

To protect your pup, owners can also double check that their canine friends are up to date on important vaccines. Dr. Belew said to make sure your dog has had their bordetella vaccine, that “their kennel cough vaccine is current,” that your dog is up-to-date on the latest available influenza vaccine, and that your pup is “an otherwise healthy animal.” According to Dr. Belew, although dog flu should be taken seriously, there’s no need to panic — just make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccines.

Vets are also urging owners that if their dogs do display any of the symptoms of dog flu, to leave their canine pal at home so it does not infect other dogs. If a veterinarian thinks your dog might be infected with the virus, he or she will likely pull blood, and check your dog’s white blood cell count, according to PetMD.

[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]