Dog flu on the rise this year; cases found in Washington

SEATTLE — It’s been a rough flu season.

There has been a spike in human flu cases in Washington and across the country. The Washington State Department of Health reports at the end of December, there had been at least 29 deaths from influenza.

But people aren’t the only one susceptible to the flu.

So is your dog.

Veterinarians are warning pet owners that a spike in dog flu cases has raced across the country. Canine influenza has been reported in 46 states — including here in Washington.

Dog flu, like the human flu, is passed from dog to dog through the air. Symptoms are similar to the flu that affects humans, said Critical Care Veterinarian Meghan Harmon of Blue Pearl Seattle.

“Things like coughing, sneezing, not eating, lethargy and fever (are symptoms),” Harmon said.

Q13 News will have more on the dog flu at 4 and 5 p.m. Friday

Harmon said only about two cases of confirmed dog flu have been reported in Washington dogs. However, dogs traveling to other areas of the country for shows or other reasons where the flu is prevalent have a good chance of getting sick.

“Once they’re exposed, there’s a good chance they’ll get infected,” Harmon said.

Around 80 percent of dogs exposed to canine influenza get the virus. Most dogs recover in two to three weeks.

But, like humans, older dogs and dogs with weakened immune systems can come down with more serious health problems as a result. Less than 10 percent of dogs that get the disease will die, Harmon said. The virus is not transferable to humans.

The disease is often mistaken with Bordetella bronchiseptica, a common infection for dogs.

If you suspect your dog has the canine flu, keep it quarantined from other pets. If it has a high fever, such as 104 or 105, it’s a good idea to call your vet. And if you think your dog has the flu and you plan on taking them in, please call ahead, Harmon says.

“The disease is spread by aerosol and it lives on surfaces for hours,” Harmon said, mentioning dogs with the flu will be put into quarantine at the vet.

For more information on dog flu, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website.