Dog Flu Outbreak In Michigan Worries Pet Owners

An astonishing number of cases have been reported in the state since July 13.

Sick Black Dog with thermometer in mouth & ice pack on head
Javier Brosch / Shutterstock

An astonishing number of cases have been reported in the state since July 13.

There have been almost 50 cases of canine influenza reported in Michigan since the middle of July. By comparison, in 2017, there was a total of nine reported cases of dog flu for the entire year.

“There is definitely an outbreak,” veterinarian Christine Lee told Livingston Daily.

“The [dogs] we’ve seen have been really sick. We see a lot of kennel cough, which [has] similar symptoms, but these pets are sicker. Their coughs are worse, with runny nose and eyes, they don’t want to eat, and they get tired, like people with the flu.”

The doctor, who works at the VCA Brighton Animal Hospital in Brighton, Michigan, said her clinic treated around 20 suspected cases of the highly contagious viral respiratory infection last week alone.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the symptoms of canine influenza include fever, lethargy, coughing, and nasal and/or eye discharge.

Most cases are mild, and the hounds usually recover within two to three weeks. However, severe cases can lead to pneumonia.

“It’s a viral disease, so we can’t treat it that much,” said Lee. “We’ll give them antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections and some cough medicine. Some are sick enough they are vomiting and we give them medicine and sometimes IV fluids to rehydrate them.”

Sick Dog Not Wanting Pill
  Ponpimonsa_Bibi / Shutterstock

Genesee, Huron, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Ottawa, and Wayne are the Michigan counties currently affected by the outbreak.

“Dog flu can spread through direct contact, like dogs nuzzling each other, through the air from a cough or sneeze, from contaminated objects like dog bowls, and from human touch,” reported Livingston Daily in another article on the outbreak.

Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners’ small animal internal medicine specialist Jessica Romine said that the germs can survive on human hands for up to 12 hours, up to 24 hours on clothes, and on a dog bowl for up to 48 hours.

The Animal Veterinary Medical Foundation said all dogs, regardless of breed or age, lack immunity to canine influenza and are susceptible to the infection if exposed to it.

If you believe your dog is sick with canine influenza, here’s what to do:

  • Take him or her to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Keep your dog at home.
  • Keep the animal away from other dogs to prevent them from sharing the disease. (In rare cases, it can also spread to cats, but not to humans.)
  • Report the case to MDARD at 800-292-3939.

All dog owners should also talk to their vet about getting their pets vaccinated for influenza.

Additionally, day care and boarding centers for dogs, training facilities, groomers, and other places where the animals congregate are being advised to thoroughly clean and disinfect all areas to prevent the spreading of the flu.