Orange County Animal Services is recommending additional prevention and awareness measures be taken against the spread of Canine Influenza, which is now being reported in North Carolina. Canine Influenza (also called “Canine Flu”) is a virus that can cause low-grade fever, coughing, sluggish behavior and decreased appetite in dogs. Although there are no confirmed cases of Canine Influenza in Orange County, the flu has infected dogs in neighboring parts of the state.
“With a highly contagious virus like Canine Influenza, it’s important that we proactively alert dog owners about the symptoms of the virus and the protective measures they can take to help ensure their dogs remain healthy,” said Dr. Sandra Strong, Orange County Animal Services Director. “We do not want to alarm pet owners. We simply want to raise awareness, so they can make good decisions to protect their dogs.”
Canine influenza is similar to other respiratory diseases, and testing by a veterinarian is the only way to confirm infection. The virus can be present for up to three days before clinical signs appear. Generally, older dogs, younger dogs and dogs with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to the flu. It is recommended that, if your dog will be coming in contact with other dogs and/or will be boarding, you discuss what preventative vaccinations are best for your pet with your veterinarian.
Tips for keeping pets safe include:
- Make sure your pet follows a recommended vaccine schedule;
- Do not take sick pets to dog parks or other places where dogs mingle if they have clinical signs such as a cough, and keep your dog at home for three weeks after recovery from illness;
- Make sure your pet has current ID tags with your address and phone number clearly displayed; and
- Keep your pet in overall good health – a strong immune system is the best defense against infection.
If you think your dog may have the flu….
- Call your veterinarian BEFORE going to their office and let them know your dog’s symptoms. This will allow them to determine how best to minimize exposure within their practice and prepare for your dog’s arrival.
- Keep your dog away from other dogs and public areas where other dogs go until your dog is seen by your veterinarian.
Remember, this is typically a very treatable disease with a low fatality rate but high rate of infection for unvaccinated dogs. It will make many dogs sick, but most will recover and return to their normal lives. More information about Canine Influenza is available at http://www.ncagr.gov/vet/aws/canineflu/.