Highly contagious dog flu is spreading in US; Dog owners face dilemma

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Dog and owner
Dog and owner (Representational picture) Reuters

If you think the cold season only brings health hazard to humans, you are wrong. Even your four-legged furry friends are vulnerable to the disease-causing viruses that proliferate in this season.

Highly contagious canine influenza is engulfing several states including Arkansas, Missouri , Colorado, Washington and some parts of California and an increasing number of cases are being reported from these regions.

Fortunately, the virus, which infects about 80% of all dogs who come into contact with it, is rarely deadly and cannot spread to humans.

Experts advise pet parents to look out for symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, and frequent coughing. If your pet is suffering from any of these symptoms, it is best advised to go and see a vet as soon as possible.

"Lethargic, not wanting to eat. The owners may or may not notice difficulty breathing, increased respiratory rate – they'll see their rib cages really actively moving. If they have a secondary bacterial infection they'll be coughing yellow or green discharge or have yellow or green discharge coming from their nose," says B.C. Chapter President of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Sarah Armstrong said, according to Global News

Pooches are generally affected by two strains of canine flu: H3N2, the common one, and H3N8, the more severe one, but worry not, both of them are curable.

If your dog is suffering from the flu, make sure it drink a lot of water and take rest. Some veterinary doctors may prescribe medications to treat swelling induced by the virus, while others may recommend vaccination.

Canine flu is nothing uncommon. In 2015, first recognized US outbreak happened spread like wildfire in several other Midwestern states. These outbreaks are generally common in close quarters, such as in shelters or boarding facilities, where lots of dogs are kept together.