Humans aren’t the only species at risk from the flu. Canine influenza H3N2 is a highly contagious upper respiratory viral disease spread among dogs, and can infect cats as well. L.A. Animal Services recommends that pet owners consult their dog’s veterinarian and ask if their pet should be vaccinated.
According to Animal Services, the majority of flu-infected dogs can exhibit a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Canine influenza H3N2 is spread through coughing, barking, and sneezing, as well as through contaminated objects like kennel surfaces, water bowls, collars and leashes. The virus can remain alive and able to infect other animals on surfaces, clothing, and hands for several hours after initial contact.
The keys to preventing the spread of canine influenza H3N2 virus include:
- Vaccinating against canine influenza, which requires two vaccinations, 2-4 weeks apart.
- Washing your hands thoroughly after touching your sick pet.
- Frequently cleaning and disinfecting pet boarding facilities, grooming salons, and veterinary practices.
- Keeping flu infected bowls, toys, leashes, and other equipment away from healthy pets.
In May 2017, L.A. Animal Services began vaccinating all dogs entering City shelters against canine influenza in an effort to protect the shelter dogs and the community. L.A. County Veterinary Public Health recommends that dogs that interact with other dogs should be vaccinated against canine influenza. Dogs that are at the highest risk of contracting the virus are at animal shelters, grooming salons, dog daycares, dog parks and other locations where the animals are in close contact with each other.
If you think your pet has the flu, please keep it away from other animals and contact your veterinarian right away.