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Dog flu can happen anytime of year; dogs at risk when with other animals

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Most people start preparing to combat the flu as winter approaches, but humans aren’t the only ones who get it.

Dogs can get the flu, too, and just like in humans, it presents itself as an upper respiratory infection.

Dr. Roger Freund, veterinarian at Coronado Animal Clinic, says there are two strains of the flu that can be diagnosed in dogs.

It’s spread from dog to dog by coughing, barking and sneezing but it also can be spread by human contact.

“So if your dog has the flu, there’s a potential you can give it to other dogs. If you have a dog that you think has the flu, make sure you wash your hands,” Freund said.

While people prepare for the illness during flu season, pet owners should know that the dog flu can hit at any time.

“There’s no flu season per say. This is all based on where the animal is. If it’s in a kennel or in a boarding facility or in a shelter where there are a lot of animals in a confined space,” Freund said.

Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, lethargy, and not wanting to eat or drink, especially if the dog has been around other animals.

Freund said cats can also get the flu but they don’t get it as bad as dogs can.

The good news is that the flu in dogs is pretty treatable.

“There’s a 10 percent fatality rate with the flu, which means about 90 percent of the dogs get over it,” Freund said.

Some pet owners will choose to treat their dogs with human medication. Freund said there is no evidence that medication meant for people will benefit four-legged friends.

It’s best to visit the vet.

A vaccine is available for to prevent the dog flu. Some boarding kennels do require that dogs get the vaccine.

“The vaccine will help control the symptoms but won’t eliminate the problem. You’re dog may still get the flu it just won’t get as sick as if it didn’t have the shot,” Freund said.

Keep that in mind if you’ll be boarding your dog this holiday season.

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