Veterinarians are encouraging dog owners to consider vaccinating their pets against canine influenza after a breakout was reported in Los Angeles County.
Zarah Hedge, DVM, Chief Medical Officer for the San Diego Humane Society, said the latest strain of canine influenza was reported in California in 2015. She said it’s not a common virus but can be easily spread. Hedge said most dogs do not have immunity against the virus which is why she is advising dog owners to meet with their veterinarian to discuss vaccinating their furry friend.
“I was at the dog park and someone asked me, ‘Does your dog have the shot?’ and I didn’t know about it,” said Jessica Corona. She’s a dog owner and visits the dog park often. She said she didn’t know about the dog flu vaccine, but is now considering getting her dog vaccinated.
“Don’t panic over the outbreak in Los Angeles, but be on the lookout,” said Hedge, who explained that there have been no reports of dogs with the flu at the San Diego Humane Society and she hasn’t been alerted to any cases across San Diego County.
Hedge said it may be difficult for pet owners to identify canine flu symptoms.
“If you notice your dog is coughing, or sneezing, has any nasal discharge, ocular discharge, it could be a variety of different viruses,” said Hedge. Hedge stressed the importance of consulting with a veterinarian if dog owners notice cold/flu like symptoms.
“It could be really important to make sure your dog has the flu vaccine and to make sure it’s a vaccine that covers both variants of the flu virus. Especially if they’re going to places like boarding facilities, groomers, dog daycare, dog parks, anywhere they’re going to be around a lot of other dogs.”
Hedge also said younger dogs and those with medical conditions may be more susceptible to developing severe illness from the canine flu.