Can Dogs Get the Flu?

Dogs, Infectious Diseases

Canine Influenza is a relatively new disease caused by a “flu” virus. It causes respiratory infection and only affects dogs. It spreads quickly and may cause serious illness, such as pneumonia, possibly death.

Is Canine Influenza Found Near Baltimore?

There have been confirmed cases in counties surrounding ours. Two of them ending in death!

How Do Dogs Get the Flu?

Canine Influenza can be spread multiple ways:

  • through direct contact (licking, nuzzling)
  • through the air (coughing or sneezing)
  • via contaminated surfaces (such as food/water bowls, cages, or through human contact on hands or clothing, then coming in direct contact with a dog)

How Prevalent is Dog Flu?

About 80% of dogs that show signs will have a mild form of the disease. Clinical signs include sneezing, coughing, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, and lack of energy. The other 20% will show more severe signs. These include pneumonia and high fever. Unfortunately, by the time you see these signs, you dog has already been shedding the virus and infecting others, and will need immediate veterinary attention. If left untreated, death may occur.

Which Dogs Are Most at Risk of Catching the Flu?

There are multiple risk factors:

  • Dogs that come from shelters, rescue centers, breeding kennels or pet stores
  • Boarding at dog facilities
  • Visiting groomers, dog parks, or interacting with other dogs
  • Participating in dog events/competitions
  • Dogs that travel
  • Dogs that come in contact with an area where an infected dog has been

Fortunately, there is a vaccination that has been proven to significantly reduce your dog’s chance of becoming infected. Vaccinated dogs that do contract the flu typically experience less-severe symptoms, and recover more quickly.

Contact us to learn more!

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

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