Over 500 cases of a new strain of dog flu have been reported across the United States, with the New York area hard hit. 91 cases of dog flu have been reported in Brooklyn as of June 5th, along with cases on Long Island and in Manhattan – and this doesn’t include an increase in illnesses in the past 10 days or suspected cases that have not yet been confirmed through testing.
Experts consider it likely that dog flu will continue to spread rapidly from Brooklyn to bordering neighborhoods. In addition, over 500 cases have been reported throughout the U.S. in 2018 – so this is a fast-spreading disease you need to be aware of.
As with any medical care and vaccine, your own dog’s lifestyle and a consultation with your vet will dictate what protection will be of value, but you should get right in touch with your veterinarian to decide whether your dog needs the vaccination which protects against this flu. And you don’t have to frequent a dog park to come into contact with an affected dog. To give an example, if you live in an urban area and sit with your dog at an outdoor cafe where another dog has previously been sitting who had the flu (and the owner didn’t even know it yet), your dog will be exposed and has a high chance of becoming infected, too.
Please listen to my recent interview on DOG TALK (and Kitties, Too!) with Dr. Kathryn Primm from Applebrook Animal Hospital near Chattanooga, Tennessee, who is an expert in dog flu. In the meantime, here are some key pieces of information that can be of value in protecting your own dogs.
Dog flu is highly contagious among social dogs, and nearly all unvaccinated dogs exposed to it will become sick. It is a year-round illness and can be spread very easily within a community.
Common symptoms include high fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, cough, runny nose and, in some cases, pneumonia – which can be life-threatening.
The old and young are most at risk, just as with any upper respiratory illness. Young puppies and old-timer senior dogs are considered most vulnerable to contract this flu – and for it to become a serious illness for them.
Consider giving immune supplements to the very old or young dogs in your life, including omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil, but only from a reliable, high quality source) and a product like Halo’s immune supplement.
There is a vaccine to prevent transmission of the illness. Luckily, this dog flu is preventable with vaccine made by Merck Animal Health (Nobivac Canine Flu Bivalent) that is injectable and protects specifically against both known strains of dog flu – H3N8 and H3N2. Unlike the human flu vaccination which “guesses” at upcoming strains of flu in people each year, this vaccine is targeted specifically at the flu that dog are now getting.
Even after vaccination, it takes weeks for your dog to become immune to the flu. You don’t want to delay getting the vaccine because it doesn’t start working right away. Your veterinarian gives the first vaccine and then boosts it in 2-4 weeks. Following the booster shot, immunity would be expected about 10-14 days later. And then your dog should be revaccinated on an annual basis for continued protection.
For in depth information and recent developments on the spread of the disease, you can go to DogFlu.com.
Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.