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VaccineCBS Boston reported that, about three weeks ago, Massachusetts confirmed its first case of dog flu this year. Veterinarians estimate the vaccine is about 60% effective and they are urging in-state dog owners to vaccinate their pets for added protection.

The American Kennel Club describes dog flu as ‘an infectious respiratory disease caused by an influenza A virus, similar to the viral strains that cause influenza in people.’ The disease is airborne and respiratory secretions can be spread via coughing, barking, and sneezing. It can also be transmitted via infected objects, such as toys, bowls, and collars.

Dog flu typically incubates for two to four days. After day four, viral shedding starts to decrease but dogs can remain contagious for 10 – 26 days, depending on the specific strain of dog flu they contracted. If a dog comes into contact with dog flu, (s)he will almost always be infected.

Common symptoms of dog flu include:

• Runny eyes
• Fever
• Coughing
• Lethargy
• Nasal discharge
• Difficulty breathing

Luckily, most cases of dog flu are mild. However, severe cases in which infected dogs develop pneumonia do occur.

If your dog is showing symptoms of dog flu, you should bring them to a veterinarian. Although there is currently no cure for the virus, your veterinarian can advise you on how to best keep your dog comfortable over the course of the illness.

Your veterinarian may put your dog on supportive treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications or IV fluid drips, or prescribe antibiotics to treat any secondary bacterial infections. He or she will also let you know how to properly quarantine your dog and give you advice regarding how to best disinfect his or her belongings.

As is true with many common illnesses, the best way to approach dog flu is via prevention. If you're interested in getting your pet vaccinated, give us a call at (978) 453-1784 to set up an appointment.