DENVER (KDVR) – Some cities across the United States have started to see an uptick in canine influenza, which is the flu but for dogs, and the symptoms can be similar to humans.
“When dogs are sick with it, they have a cough, they have nasal discharge and they have a fever. They can also be lethargic,” Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald a veterinarian at VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital told FOX31 on Saturday.
Fitzgerald said cities like Chicago are seeing an uptick in cases. If dogs here locally were to travel to cities where there are more dog flu cases and come back to Colorado, they can bring it with them.
“It’s highly contagious, 80% of dogs get it but only 5% of them die from it. The dog flu has a low mortality rate,” Fitzgerald said.
The vet gave FOX31 and Channel 2 a little insight into how the dog flu originated over the past few decades.
“In 2004, a mutated equine virus jumped to dogs. That’s the first time we saw it,” Fitzgerald said. “Then in 2015, a mutated bird flu jumped to dogs.”
He said the best thing dog owners can do is be prepared even though he has only seen a few cases here locally.
“In 2006 and 2007 we got a good vaccine for it. We’re lucky in Colorado we have a great vet group,” Fitzgerald said.
He said it’s up to owners to decide if their dog needs the vaccine based on the risk of exposure.
“Let’s be prepped, let’s be ready. Is your dog going to the groomer? A dog park? Are they going to obedience classes or just came from a rescue or shelter?” Fitzgerald said.
As of right now, dog influenza can’t jump to humans. But to err on the side of caution, when it comes to your dogs you should limit exposure to dead birds.
“The dogs sense the whole world with their nose and that’s where this thing gets the foothold,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said with the bird flu outbreak nationally any dead birds should be removed from where your dogs can find them.