Veterinarians warn about strain of dog flu emerging in West Michigan

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 23:33:59-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Local veterinarians and dog daycare staff are experiencing cases of canine influenza, also known as dog flu, in West Michigan and they are offering advice for dog owners to keep their pets healthy.

Alicia Offringa is the general manager at Camp Bow Wow in Hudsonville and says cases of dog flu can appear to be kennel cough.

“Coughing or sneezing, almost sounds like they have something stuck in their throat," Offringa tells FOX 17.

If it is dog flu, Offringa says the dog will also have symptoms like a runny nose or nasal discharge. She says sometimes the dog will also have a fever.

According to Dr. Lynn Happel at Eastown Veterinary Clinic, there have been confirmed cases on the east side of the state and a few cases reported in Ottawa County. Dr. Happel says dog flu first popped up in Florida and the early 2000's and since then, there have been multiple strains reported across the country. She says there are currently two active strains.

“There is a vaccine available that is against both known strains of canine influenza and so getting your dog vaccinated would be a great preventative measure," Dr. Happel says.

Dr. Happel says depending on which flu strain a dog has, it will likely show symptoms between two and eight days of getting the virus. Dogs can get the flu from other dogs as well as shared objects, like toys.

“Interestingly enough, it can stay on objects for 48 hours," Dr. Happel says. "It can stay on clothing for 24 hours and it can stay on hands for 12.”

Dr. Happel says even if a dog does not have symptoms of dog flu, it can still be a carrier. She says dog flu spreads more quickly among social dogs.

“Those that are out and about at the dog parks or having play dates or regularly going to daycare or being groomed," Dr. Happel says. "Those dogs that pretty much stay at their house, they’re going to be at less risk.”

If your dog does get sick, it's important to keep it hydrated and do your best to make sure it eats.

Dr. Happel says fewer than 10 percent of dogs who get dog flu die from the virus.