Health & Medicine

Dog flu outbreak: How to protect your pooch

The term “sick as a dog” isn’t just an old adage – our furry friends can also get under the weather if they catch the wrong bug. The chances of that happening are higher than usual this month as a strain of canine influenza sweeps the nation’s furry friends.

Canine influenza virus is a highly contagious infection that can be caused by two different influenza subtypes : H3N8 or H3N2. The latter type sickened more than 1,000 dogs in Chicago last month and may be spreading to other states, including California, Alabama, Texas and New York, according to the Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center, which has been monitoring the outbreak. There has been at least one reported case in California, but no confirmed cases in the Sacramento area.

While the disease has not been shown to spread to humans, it can be easily passed from dog to dog, leading park officials in some areas to put warning signs about it in dog parks. For Sacramento dog owners planning to take their pups out and about this summer, here are some tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association:


▪ Fever

▪ Fast breathing

▪ Thick mucous

▪ Cough that lasts two to three weeks

▪ Fatigue or refusing food

How it spreads:

▪ From dog to dog through the air

▪ Through contaminated objects, such as kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes

▪ From people interacting with infected and uninfected dogs. On surfaces, the virus is alive and can infect dogs for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours

How to prevent it:

▪ An approved USDA vaccine has been shown to reduce likelihood of symptoms. Dog owners should consult with their vets

▪ Limit your dog’s interaction with other dogs, and reduce sharing of toys and bowls

▪ Wash hands and clothing after playing with other dogs