Veterinarians encourage flu vaccinations for dogs to prevent outbreak

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - On Tuesday, June 20, area vet clinics had a city-wide flu vaccination day for dogs.

Zeek and Zeus are two of many dogs getting their dog flu vaccination at Hawthorne Animal Hospital.

“They're our life,” their pet owners, Ed and Joan Carhart, said. “They're a big part of our life. We just don’t know what we would do without them."

The canine influenza virus is very contagious.

A recent outbreak in Florida caused several area clinics to take a proactive approach, including Hawthorne’s in Overland Park.

“Today, we're doing an awareness and a promotional period so we have a discount on our flu vaccinations today,” Veterinarian Dr. Nicholas Bauer said. “It's also to get as many dogs as vaccinated as we can in case there were to be an outbreak in our area.”

Bauer said the virus is highly contagious, with two different types of strains: H3N8 and H3N2. If not treated, it could result in death.

“The H3N2 strain is a lot more contagious,” Bauer said. “It takes about 48 hours to start showing clinical signs. And so they can potentially pass it on to another dog within those 48 hours and they can spread very quickly.”

Cases have been reported in 10 states, including Missouri.

While no positive cases have been reported in Kansas, Bauer said it’s something they’re keeping a close eye on.

“Dog parks, kennels, or boarding areas, grooming facilities, dog shows, any of those areas that there are going to be many dogs in many areas or a concentrated area, that's a risk factor,” Dr. Bauer said.

Some symptoms to look out for are coughing, hacking, runny eyes and nose, lethargy, lack of appetite, and fever.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is no evidence that either strain of canine influenza (H3N8, H3N2) can infect humans.

Dogs who are most at risk are sicker and older dogs. Dogs can get vaccinated as early as 12 weeks. If you feel your dog may have the flu, call your veterinarian. 

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