Vets urge pet owners to watch for signs of dog flu after it surfaces in S.C., other states

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Pet owners are being urged to watch their dogs for signs of the dog flu after the first case has been confirmed in South Carolina.

The University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine lists eight states that have recorded confirmed cases of canine influenza. Those states are Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, and Illinois.

Messages to IDEXX and the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University where samples are tested for dog flu, were not immediately returned. At this time there's no word on where in South Carolina this reported case was.

"There's no set agency which records these reported cases like humans do [with DHEC}," Charleston Animal Society Senior Director of Veterinary Care Lucy Fuller said.

In the meantime, vets are urging owners to keep a close eye on their pets.

"Dogs that are at risk are dogs that are traveling and primarily if dogs are traveling to dog shows," Fuller said.

Fuller added these shows are "like an airport" for dogs.

"You've got a lot of dogs, small area, a lot of dogs from different places," she said. "So they interact because they can't help but do. Of course we're not just pointing fingers at dog shows. Dogs can contract this anywhere."

This year's canine influenza virus is H3N2, which can make a dog feel sick for two weeks. But the pet remains contagious for four weeks, Fuller said.

Canine influenza is extremely contagious, Fuller said. A dog's cough can travel up to 20 feet and the virus can remain alive on human clothing for up to 24-hours.

"Coughing is one of the biggest signs of this particular strain of influenza," Fuller said. "It's a cough and it's going to be a really persistent cough."

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Coughing and Sneezing
  • Low Energy
  • Fever
  • Lack of Appetite

Fuller added for pet owners in South Carolina right now there's no reason to alarmed.

"If you feel like your dog may be at risk because of your lifestyle with your dog, or your dog is especially compromised, very young or very old, but is going out a lot and seeing other dogs... then talk to your vet about whether this vaccine would be good for your dog," she said.

The dog flu vaccine is given in two shots, two weeks apart.

"There are vaccines for different strains," Fuller said. "So not every veterinarian carries a vaccine for this particular strain but I know a lot are trying to get it now because of the cases cropping up."

While the flu usually clears up in two weeks, in some cases it can develop into pneumonia, which is why you want to be in touch with your veterinarian as soon as you suspect something is wrong, Fuller said.

Dog flu cannot be transmitted to humans.

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