LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET/WRIC) — The flu virus has been particularly severe this year, taking its toll on people of all ages across the country and even killing some otherwise healthy people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a recent report that there have been 74,562 cases this season, including 30 child deaths.
Unfortunately, doctors are saying that the virus is now also affecting pets.
Dogs everywhere in the U.S. are coming down with symptoms associated with a canine version of the flu.
While the strain is different from that which affects humans, vets say it can be just as dangerous and that it’s extremely contagious among dogs.
ABC affiliate WSET reports that the dog flu has been reported from California to Washington, Pennsylvania, Canada and Virginia.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says that if the sickness goes untreated, the dog could die. They also said that it’s spread through close contact with other dogs, often at groomers, kennels, shelters and dog daycare centers. Similar to human flu, it is spread through coughing and sneezing, but also through barking in close proximity with other dogs.
The AVMA said that most dogs exposed to the flu will get it, and that 80 percent will show symptoms that include coughing, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite and a runny nose. In some cases, the flu can develop into pneumonia.
You can protect your dog by disinfecting toys, water bowls, leashes and any other item that may come into contact with other dogs.
There is also a flu vaccine for canines you can ask your vet about.