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What Disease is Killing Dogs in Michigan?

 

What Disease is Killing Dogs in Michigan?

What Disease is Killing Dogs in Michigan?

 


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In 2018, a deadly outbreak of canine influenza hit the state of Michigan and other locations around the world. In Michigan alone, 2,800 dogs fell ill with the disease and 600 died from it. It was an extremely sad time for pet owners who lost their animals, vet workers who had to see these animals suffer, and shelter staff who struggled to care for so many sick dogs. Fortunately, as of July 2019, there has not been another outbreak in Michigan; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions if you have a dog at home. Canine influenza is still around; we just have to be more cautious than we were before. If your dog starts showing signs of being unwell such as sneezing or coughing repeatedly, take them to the vet right away. Here are some essential facts about this disease and how you can protect your pup from contracting it again:


What is Canine Influenza?

Canine influenza is a type of respiratory infection that can be passed from one dog to another. It is different from the “human flu” in that it is a completely different type of virus: influenza A. The same virus that affected dogs in Michigan last year is the same one that is still around today: H3N2. If the dogs in your household have not contracted this illness, there is no reason to be alarmed. A canine influenza outbreak is extremely rare. According to the CDC, only about 10% of dogs are susceptible to this virus. If your dog shows no symptoms, there is no reason for concern.


How does a dog contract influenza?

As stated above, this virus is different from the one that affects humans. Humans can contract the virus from dogs, but dogs can’t catch the flu from us. Although there is no concrete evidence, it is believed that the virus is spread from one dog to another by coughing and sneezing. Cats also get canine influenza, but cats are much less likely to have a reaction to it. If your dog has not contracted the virus, there is no reason for alarm. A canine influenza outbreak is extremely rare. In fact, only about 10% of dogs are susceptible to this virus.


Which dogs are most at risk for contracting influenza?

As mentioned above, the dogs most likely to contract influenza are the ones who are unvaccinated. If your dog is vaccinated and has had their booster shots, they have a very small chance of contracting this virus. However, there are other factors that make a dog more susceptible to contracting this virus. If your dog is a puppy, they are more likely to get influenza than an adult dog because their immune system is not as strong. The same goes for dogs who are unwell because of a concurrent illness such as kennel cough or upper respiratory infections. If your dog is living in a boarding facility or in a shelter, they are more likely to get the flu because their immune system is compromised from being in such a high-stress environment.


Symptoms of Canine Influenza

If your dog has contracted the influenza virus, there are a few symptoms you should be on the lookout for. If your dog has been vaccinated against the flu, you may not see any symptoms at all. The vaccine will prevent your dog from having a severe reaction to the virus, but it will not prevent them from contracting it. If your dog has not been vaccinated, they will likely show these symptoms: - Sneezing and/or coughing repeatedly- Fever- Lethargy- Lack of appetite- Nasal or eye discharge


How to tell if your dog has contracted the flu

If you think your dog has contracted the flu, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet. The sooner you start treatment, the better. The vet will likely run a few tests to make sure it is, in fact, the flu, followed by a course of antibiotics to fight off the pathogens. If you have been vaccinated against influenza, you may not see any symptoms. However, if you see any of the above symptoms, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely your dog is to get pneumonia from this virus.


How to protect your dog from catching the flu again

The best way to protect your dog from getting the flu again is by having them vaccinated. Make sure you follow the vaccination schedule and don’t skip any shots. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent your dog from contracting the flu. If you take your dog to boarding, and they are unvaccinated, think about getting them a kennel cough vaccination. Kennel cough is similar to influenza (although not as deadly) and it is highly contagious in kennel environments.


Conclusion

As tragic as the Michigan outbreak was, the good news is that the virus has not reached epidemic levels. However, you should still be aware of the signs of canine influenza, as well as the best ways to protect your dog against the disease. If you have been vaccinated against the flu, you have nothing to worry about. If your dog has not been vaccinated and is in a high-risk environment, make sure you protect them properly.

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