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Ever heard of canine influenza? Vets say don't ignore early warning signs of dog flu

With all the news about the flu taking its toll on humans, veterinarians say it’s important to know the virus can impact dogs, too. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- With all the news about the flu taking its toll on humans, veterinarians say it’s important to know the virus can impact dogs, too.

Veterinarians at BluePearl Veterinary Partners are constantly getting updates from the state about possible outbreaks, they said.

So far, the Pacific Northwest has largely been lucky, they said. But they want to make sure dog owners don't ignore early warning signs of canine influenza.

There's no widespread outbreak in Washington state, but Newsweek reports canine influenza is affecting dogs from California to Washington to Pennsylvania and even Canada.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there's no evidence the virus can be spread from dogs to humans. But dogs can spread it to one another through nose-to-nose contact, coughing and sneezing, or touching infected objects.

Symptoms of canine influenza can include a cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, and a reduced appetite or energy.

Veterinarians urge dog owners to seek help if they're concerned about their dog's health.

"I usually call the vet and bring him in," said dog owner Carson Cunningham.

"I am surprised. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. And hopefully she won’t get it," added Lisa Mead, referring to her dog, Sophie.

"If coughing is keeping your pet awake at night, time to go get a cough suppressant or be assessed. or if energy is low, go get a temperature to find out if your pet has a fever. so, use your gut as a resource," said Dr. Jennifer Waldrop, Critical Care Specialist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners. "It’s nice to know to be aware so that you don’t ignore early signs that might be the tip of the iceberg."

According to the CDC, canine influenza can be fatal. But it's rare.

If you think your dog might have canine influenza, there’s an easy test that includes a swab of a dog's eye and throat, Waldrop said. Those samples are then sent off to a lab to be tested.

Vaccines are available. Your veterinarian can help determine if your dog should be vaccinated, according to the CDC.

More information about canine influenza can be found on the American Veterinary Medical Association's website.

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