Canine flu spreading across the Midwest

Friday, April 10, 2015
Group of dogs

If you have dogs, you probably heard about the canine flu outbreak in Chicago right now.

Officials in Chicago say more than one thousand dogs have been infected with the highly contagious disease. Five dogs have died.

Dogs playing

I spoke with Houston veterinarian, Dr. Valerie McDaniel with Montrose Veterinary Clinic. Dr. McDaniel says she hasn't seen any dog flu cases in her clinic, yet. But she does recommend the vaccine to many of her clients, because canine influenza is a year round concern and can make some dogs deathly ill.

She says she has a theory as to why parts of the country are experiencing an outbreak of the dog flu.

"It seems worse right now because so many dogs boarded during spring break," said McDaniel. "The reason it is such a problem is that it is a new disease. Dogs have not been exposed, so dogs have no immunity unless vaccinated. As with people, the young, the elderly, and the immune compromised are at the greatest risk."

The signs of canine flu are pretty much the same as in people: cough, runny nose and fever. Most dogs will survive a case of the flu just fine. But just like with people, there will be some dogs who will develop a life threatening illness.

To get fully vaccinated, your dog needs the vaccine and a booster 2-3 weeks after the original shot.

Kissing a dog

Canine influenza is extremely contagious from dog to dog, but cannot be transmitted to people.

Talk to your vet if you have questions about canine influenza and whether your dog should be vaccinated.

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