An outbreak of dog flu at a dog show in Perry, Georgia, has had area veterinarians on alert. And on June 5, the Virology Laboratory at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine confirmed that the dog flu has indeed reached Knoxville.
“We know it is an influenza from a dog,” Dr. Melissa Kennedy, Director of the Virology Laboratory at UT Veterinary College said. “The dog was at a boarding facility in the Knoxville region that housed a dog that had been exposed to dogs from a show in Perry, Georgia, where a confirmed outbreak has occurred,” she added. Owners of other dogs that were at the same boarding facility have been notified and are isolating their dogs in an effort contain the virus.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canine influenza, or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by two viral influenza strains—H3N8 and H3N2. Both are relatively new to the U.S., arriving in 2015 after adapting from Asian equine and avian flu strains. That year, dog flu hit Chicago and spread across 30 states. This year, dog flu has been reported in Florida, for the first time in Georgia, and now Tennessee.
What To Know
Just like human flu, canine influenza is highly contagious among dogs. Because dog flu is spread easily through the air and most dogs have not developed immunity nor are they vaccinated, all dogs are susceptible to infection. Dogs have a higher risk of coming down with the flu if they spend time at dog parks, boarding facilities, daycare, or grooming facilities. Traveling can also increase the risk of dog flu infection.
As with other infectious diseases, extra precautions need to be taken for puppies and elderly dogs, or dogs that have chronic conditions such as asthma. While nearly 80% of infected dogs show clinical signs of disease, most exhibit the mild form symptoms for two to three weeks.
Mild symptoms may include:
- Soft, moist cough or dry cough
- Nasal discharge (may indicate secondary bacterial infection)
- Sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose
- Reduced appetite
- Fever (up to 103ºF)
Severe symptoms may also include:
- High fevers (104ºF to 106ºF)
- Increased respiratory rates and trouble breathing which may indicate pneumonia
Treatment & Vaccination
If your dog is coughing or showing other symptoms, contact your veterinarian. Since your dog can remain contagious for up to 24 days, you will also need to keep him isolated from other dogs and—in the case of the H3N2 strain—from cats.
Treatment depends on your dog’s symptoms, which may indicate a secondary bacterial infection, pneumonia, or dehydration. Your veterinarian might prescribe an antibiotic or an anti-inflammatory medication for severe symptoms.
The easiest course of action is to vaccinate your dog against both strains to decrease the chances that he will suffer from complications of the flu. In Knoxville and Alcoa, the veterinarians at PetWellClinic® provide affordable preventative vaccinations for both strains of canine influenza for under $40. If it is the first flu vaccine your pet has ever received, it will need to be re-boostered in 3 weeks, and then annually.
By operating convenient hours for non-surgical care, PetWellClinic® is also able to offer substantially discounted prices for all vaccinations, flea and tick preventative products, wellness exams, and treatment of minor conditions. We operate as a “minute clinic” for your pet—no appointment necessary, with convenient hours and quick in-and-out service. You can save even more time by pre-registering and pre-paying online for our walk-in clinics.
PetWellClinic® has three locations: 10549 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922; 7329 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919; and 228 S. Calderwood Street, Alcoa,TN 37701. Learn more about how PetWellClinic® can exceed your expectations for affordable, top quality pet care by visiting our website at www.petwellclinic.com.