Dogs can get the flu too!

Dogs can get the flu too!

A public health authority in southern Ontario says it has confirmed what they believe to be the first two known cases of canine influenza in Canada. Here's what they need to know.

What is canine influenza and how did it get to Canada?

Dr. Carotenuto said there is a vaccine for canine influenza, and it is effective.

Also avoid contact with dogs imported from Asia, U.S. shelters or ones that travel a lot.

Also as with people, not all dogs with the flu will need medical attention.

"We live out in the country and this is sort of a treat for her to come and socialize with the other dogs", said Mike Froke from Los Molinos, who was at Degarmo Dog Park Thursday in Chico.

"Dogs will get a fever, they'll feel kind of run down, they'll get a runny nose, runny eyes, and a cough".

"It's a concern because like any flu, canine flu can spread pretty widely through the dog population", Weese told Craig Norris, host of CBC K-W's The Morning Edition.

"I'd be concerned if they weren't eating or drinking but other than that, they need to get out and just be dogs", said Poirier.

"Some will get secondary infections with bacteria. However, dog owners in Windsor and Essex County should be vigilant and watch for signs of respiratory disease in their dogs, particularly dogs that frequently have contact with other dogs".

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"The fact that there are a lot of cases (of canine flu) in the USA, and this hasn't been identified gives us some reassurance that (a new flu) is a potential concern but we aren't going to panic about it by any means", he said.

Protecting dogs from canine flu is similar to protecting yourself from human flu. "So close contact, sharing items like toys and food bowls will let this virus spread really readily", Weese said.

How can I protect my dog from getting sick?

Weese advises that, if you're out and see a dog that's coughing and looks sick, keep your dog away from that animal.

There is a flu shot for dogs, just as there's one for humans, and it does cover the H3N2 strain diagnosed in the rescue dogs from Korea.

Jennifer Valdez, vice president of the rescue organization, said the dogs were vaccinated and quarantined for three months before flying to the US, and eventually coming to Canada. But some dog owners have chosen to get it for dogs travelling to areas with dog flu outbreaks.

Dogs with the flu can be contagious for a couple days before symptoms appear and for as long as three weeks.

"There is no known human risk from H3N2 canine influenza virus; however, the risk of reassortment (or mixing together) between the canine H3N2 virus and human seasonal influenza viruses is a potential concern", the health unit added. That would be a concern, says Weese, because it would create a novel virus that humans had no immunity to.

"We've been waiting for this to happen for a while now", Weese said of Canada.

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