Veterinarians warn the increase in holiday travel could quickly make the spike among pets worse. Dr. Earle Rogoff, the owner of Orange Village Animal Hospital said a dog’s lifestyle is key to understanding the risk for infection.
“One dog walks into a kennel and all the dogs walk out of the kennel with it,” said Rogoff.
“If you’ve had your dog in a kennel or dog park or grooming with other dogs and three to five days later they start coughing, they get lethargic, show respiratory signs, then you definitely want to have them checked by a veterinarian.”
As families travel with their pets or leave them behind at a kennel this holiday season. Rogoff encouraged pet owners to ask management at boarding facilities, as well as family and friends with pets they plan to visit, about recent dog flu outbreaks.
“You don’t know that the dog in the cage next to your dog just didn’t travel from Chicago or travel up from the south where flu is more of a problem and could be exposing your dog,” he said.
VCA Animal Hospitals treat pets across the country and reports that dog flu is highly contagious. According to Dr. Rita Uhle, medical director at VCA Fairfield Animal Hospital in Lancaster, as many as 20% of dogs are asymptomatic. Once an outbreak begins, it is difficult to contain.
“100 percent of dogs, if they are exposed to the virus, are going to be infected with it because there is not innate immunity because it is a novel virus,” said Uhle. “Definitely poses a problem when you’ve got 20 percent of dogs that can spread and are highly contagious. That’s going to be driving your outbreak.”
Uhle said the dog flu could become more widespread in Ohio because of travel and can be confused with other illnesses, including kennel cough. Pet owners are encouraged to ask if vaccination is a good option for their dogs.
“If you have questions call your veterinarian,” said Rogoff. “Dr. Google isn’t always accurate, and your veterinarian would be able to give you the best advice because they know you and they know your pet.”