YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Veterinarians are recommending that dogs get their flu shot this year after several dogs in Ohio have already had to be hospitalized after contracting a strain of canine influenza.
The canine influenza virus, called H3N2, is highly contagious. It was first identified in the United States in 2015 after an outbreak in Chicago, and it is spreading.
“I think that it is alarming. We’ve known about the outbreak since 2015 in Chicago, but slowly it has been spreading elsewhere. It was only a matter of time it would move into Northeast Ohio,” Samantha Houston, veterinarian.
Houston said the strain could potentially be more deadly than other strains of canine flu. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, lack of appetite and vomiting.
There are different levels of severity depending on size age and health history of the dog. Dogs that spend time around other animals such as kennels, groomers, day care facilities and shelters are at an increased risk of getting the flu, and once infected, dogs can be at risk of spreading the virus for up to 24 days.
The best way to protect your pet is with the flu shot.
“Even though you don’t come out of the house very often, if you do have people who come over and bring their dogs over, you don’t know if they have vaccinated or not. It is definitely the safest,” said Laura Neff, a veterinary technician.
If you think that your dog may have the flu, you should see a vet as soon as possible. Treatment is mainly supportive and most animals recover in two to three weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control said there have never been any human infections with canine flu, but cats can be infected.