Your dog can catch the flu

Canine influenza can spread to other dogs but not to people

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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The flu is spreading across the country, but did you know it's not just humans that can get the disease?  That's right!  There is canine influenza.

"So we have a lot of dogs in our populations that have never been exposed to it before and so most dogs who are exposed to it will get sick from it," warned Kansas State University Veterinarian Dr. Susan Nelson.

Nelson says  in 2004, influenza in horses jumped to dogs. That virus has now mutated into a specific canine influenza with similar symptoms as the one humans get.

In fact, many boarding facilities are now requiring the canine influenza vaccine. It can spread between dogs, but Nelson says pet owners don't have to worry about catching it from their canines.

"To date, the canine influenza, the H3N8 has not been shown to spread to people at all," Nelson added.

So what are the symptoms?  Nelson says about 80 percent of dogs that get canine influenza show signs such as coughing, fever and lethargy. For some dogs-this can lead to a more serious illness like pneumonia. Nelson says if your dogs shows signs of a respiratory disease-contact your veterinarian.

Rest, fluids and a warm place should nurse your pup back to health. If your dog does get the flu. keep it away from other dogs, especially dog parks or kennels because it is contagious. Dogs typically show signs of the disease about two to five days after exposure.

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