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The Dog Flu is Making a Robust Appearance in the U.S.

We have the bird flu, swine flu and equine flu so why not a dog flu. Wait no longer, it is here.

I first heard whisperings of dog flu about three years ago. At the time I thought – oh great here we go again, now dogs are going to be systematically slaughtered due to the risk of this flu invading our own bodies, but that does not seem to be the case.

The dog flu is alive and well and making an early appearance around the country this year. The good news is that finally, a vaccine has been developed; the bad news is that many people are not going to take this seriously enough to actually spend the dollars to get their dogs vaccinated. For many people this will be the right choice; if your dog is never around other dogs, only plays in your house or yard and is otherwise healthy the dog flu vaccine may not be needed, but for the rest of us we should take this flu seriously.

Most experts agree that the first cases of dog flu showed up in 2004 in greyhounds. It is thought to have originated as an equine flu that jumped species, mutating from a horse virus to a dog virus. Since 2004 drug manufacturer Merck, has confirmed dog flu in 38 states.

The symptoms of the dog flu resemble those in people flu and could include:

  • Persistent and deep cough
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever

While we cannot catch this particular strain of flu, it appears to be a hardy virus that can be spread if it attaches to your clothing. Other transmittal points are food and water bowls, collars and leashes and toys.

Since this is a new virus, the vast majority of dogs have not developed immunity to it. It is neither age specific nor breed specific.

Therefore, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate that is the question. I will be vaccinating my dogs, mainly because my dogs go to the groomers and I (not my dogs) are around many other dogs at shows and could inadvertently bring it home to my four-legged fur balls. You should make the decision that is best for you and your dog and talk to your veterinarian. According to Fox News, typically the cost of the vaccine can range from $25 to $60.