• Many parts of the country have seen a rise in canine influenza cases
  • In Texas, a "highly contagious" strain has reportedly begun to spread
  • Vaccination is one of the key ways to protect dogs

Even dogs are being affected by the flu season as cases of canine influenza are on the rise across the country.

While humans are battling the tridemic of COVID-19, RSV and the flu, a contagious influenza virus is affecting dogs. Dog flu outbreaks have been reported in various parts of the country, with the furry companions developing flu symptoms such as fever, runny nose and cough, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

Texas, for instance, has seen a "pretty significant" canine influenza outbreak, said Dr. Lori Teller, of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, reported KXAN. In North Texas, where a "highly contagious" strain of the dog flu has started to spread, many pet clinics and shelters have reported outbreaks in their facilities, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Dog flu is a "highly contagious" illness that can affect "almost all" canines that are exposed to the influenza virus, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). It can spread through various means such as direct contact, contaminated objects and even by people who move between infected and uninfected dogs. It's not known to infect people.

Although some infected dogs do not show any symptoms, they can still pass it on to other animals. Some may also display other symptoms such as lethargy, eye discharge and a decreased appetite.

Typically, dogs can recover from it in two or three weeks, though some may also develop secondary infections. It's important to remember that pets should not be given human medications as these may be "extremely harmful" for them, Teller warned. Those who are concerned about their pet's health should contact their veterinarian.

"Keep an eye on your pet for any respiratory changes like sneezing, coughing, not acting right, or nasal discharge, and if you're seeing any of that, contact your veterinarian," said Dr. Ryan Carpenter, of Family Friends Veterinary Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, according to WZZM13.

Currently, there is also an uptick in cases of upper respiratory infections in dogs in West Michigan, Carpenter noted.

The most important way to protect pets is to get them vaccinated against canine influenza, especially if they are often taken to doggy daycare or dog parks. This is also an important tip for those who are planning on boarding their dogs over the holidays.

"The timing is so important because their antibody production is what needs to build up," said Dr. Jimmy Davis, veterinarian and owner of Arlington Heights Animal Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, reported CBS News.

It's also important to practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing, and to sanitize surfaces, especially shared items. Such influenza viruses can be killed using common disinfectants.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Dog Breed
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