MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Canine flu cases have been on the rise across the D.C. metro region and, now, Montgomery County is issuing a warning to dog owners.
The Montgomery County Office of Animal Services (OAS) said they want dog owners to be aware of the respiratory disease that is caused by a specific strain of the Type A influenza virus. It is also said to be highly contagious.
The symptoms of canine flu include a cough, runny nose, eye discharge, fever, lethargy and poor appetite. The signs can range between no signs at all and severe illness sometimes even leading to death.
Officials say the canine flu is not transmissible to people, but they can spread the virus to dogs through their clothing, equipment or hands.
OAS says if a person's pet is suspected of having canine flu, they should contact their veterinarian immediately for an appointment and early supportive treatment. If a dog is diagnosed with canine influenza, that dog should be separated from other animals for at least 28 days. Infected dogs should also not go to dog parks, doggy daycare, grooming and boarding facilities.
Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks, but some may develop secondary bacterial infections leading to more severe illness.
There is a canine influenza vaccine available, but it is not considered a core vaccine for all dogs, OAS said. While the vaccine may not stop a dog from contracting the virus completely, it will lessen the severity and help reduce the spread.
Additional precautions dog owners can take to keep their pet safe include:
- Limit direct contact with other dogs when on walks. Do not allow them to sniff one another.
- Avoid using shared toys or dishes.
- Consider skipping daycare, boarding, grooming facilities and dog parks.
- Contact the dog’s daycare or boarding facility and ask about recent cases and cleaning protocols.
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