Dec. 9, 2022 – Flu season is a problem for more than humans. Veterinarians, animal shelters, and kennels are reporting outbreaks of canine flu in spots across the United States.
In North Texas, the dog flu spread quickly through a shelter called Operation Kindness, where 86% of about 150 dogs kept there became sick by mid-November, The New York Times reported.
“This was just so fast-acting,” Ed Jamison, the shelter’s chief executive, told the Times. The shelter suspended adoptions for a while.
Dog flu is different from kennel cough. Symptoms of dog flu are loss of appetite, a moist or dry cough, runny nose, low-grade fever, and lack of energy.
A case of dog flu usually takes 7 to 10 days to run its course, Lori Teller, DVM, a clinical associate professor at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, told The Dallas Morning News.
“It’s not super common throughout the U.S., but when it does occur in an area, like the Dallas shelter or recently in Waco, a lot of dogs can become infected by it,” she said.
The best protection is the canine flu vaccine, which is a two-shot series with an annual booster. The vaccine is strongly recommended for people who board their dogs regularly, Teller said.
Outbreaks are being reported in Tennessee and South Carolina and occurred last year in Alabama and Los Angeles, the Times reported. Like humans, older dogs are more likely to catch canine flu. It can’t spread from dogs to humans.
The easing of the COVID pandemic may be responsible for the current outbreaks, the Times noted. People didn’t travel much during the lockdowns and didn’t take their pets to kennels or other places where dogs live in groups.
“We had a bit of a quiet period during the first couple years of COVID,” Silene St. Bernard, DVM, the regional medical director for Southern California at VCA Animal Hospitals, told the newspaper. “While people were home, their pets were home. And we didn’t see as many of these contagious viruses spreading around.”