MINNEAPOLIS – A highly contagious strain of dog influenza spreading across Texas and other parts of the United States is a reminder for pet owners in Minnesota to keep an eye on their four-legged friends this winter.
The symptoms of dog influenza are similar to symptoms humans develop when sick with the flu, including a runny nose, lack of energy, fever, and even a cough.
“The way that they are spread is also similar to the human flu where the virus is transmitted in respiratory droplets,” Dr. Veronica Bartsch, a senior veterinarian with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said. “So, when a dog coughs, sneezes, or barks they can spread the virus from dog to dog.”
Bartsch said there are two kinds of canine influenza including H3N8 and H3N2. There hasn’t been a reported case of dog flu in Minnesota since 2018.
“We in Minnesota are doing a really good job of monitoring our dogs for signs of respiratory illness and keeping them isolated from other dogs if they are sick,” Bartsch said. “The veterinary community has been really diligent about getting education out, vaccinating dogs who are at high risk of contracting canine influenza, and being on top of it.”
The concern headed into the New Year is dog owners boarding their animal.
“Just like people in the winter time when we shut ourselves indoors and are close together, we see an increase in transmission in disease, including in our dogs. I think the most important thing is – if you see any kind of signs of respiratory illness in your dog – isolate your dog or cat and contact your veterinarian right away to discuss treatment and how to help your pet recover,” Bartsch said.
Most dogs infected with canine influenza recover within two to three weeks.
No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported.