This has been the worst flu season in recent memory, as the abnormally strong H3N2 virus has reached 49 states (Hawaii is the lone exception, for obvious reasons) and forced entire school districts to shut down. Now, this virus has even started to affect man’s best friend, as the dog flu is spreading across the U.S. for the first time in years. Due to a widespread canine influenza, dogs all across the country have been experiencing flu-like symptoms, which can prove fatal when they are not recognized and treated properly by professionals.
The flu strain that is present in the dog flu is different than the H3N2 virus affecting humans but can be every bit as dangerous and even more contagious once it starts spreading. According to Newsweek, the dog influenza virus has been found in dogs in Pennsylvania, Washington, Canada, and several other areas in North America. A clinic in San Francisco reported that it saw 50 cases of the dog flu in just two weeks. It’s even managed to reach areas where there had never been cases of the dog flu before.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the dog flu comes with a 10 percent mortality rate when it is not handled properly. Cats have also been known to catch the virus, which can be spread through coughing, sneezing, and even barking when pets are in close proximity to infected animals. The dog flu is commonly spread in dog shelters, kennels, groomers, and dog daycare centers.
“If the pets are unvaccinated, you definitely don’t want to take them to daycare centers, kennels,” said Dr. Daniel Brauer, a vet at the Dayton South Veterinary Clinic. “Your pet just needs to sniff it, and they will get it if they’re not vaccinated.”