'Sick as a dog': Pet owners warned of dog influenza

Veterinarians warn pet owners of dog flu. (KOKH)

The flu season has been an active one for Oklahoma. With the death toll on the rise, doctors are urging you to get your flu shot. But what about our four legged friends? The flu concern now spreading to dogs, making dog owners worried.

Coughing, sneezing and poor health might sound like flu symptoms humans would get, but experts at BluePearl Emergency and Specialty Care Pet Hospital critical care specialist, Jesse Bullock, said dogs are exposed to getting the flu as well.

“There are two strains of the flu that dogs can get. H3N8 and H3N2. Just like the ones that are kind of going around for people,” Bullock said.

But if we have the flu, can the owner pass their flu along to their dog?

“Humans can't get it from dogs and dogs can't get it from people, but the symptoms can be similar,” said Bullock.

So what sets aside human symptoms from dog symptoms? Bullock said discharge from the eyes or nose can be a key factor.

“Clear discharge is not as worrisome, but can be symptom,” said Bullock. “If you start to see things like yellow or green discharge; or if they have a fever, decreased appetite or things like that, those are signs you'd want to get them checked out.”

Although humans can't spread the infection to animals, dogs can unknowingly pass it along to another dog.

“Cats can't get it from dogs, dogs can't get it from cats, but within the species they can absolutely get it from other dogs.”

But there is a cure. Surprisingly dog's do have flu vaccines. So bring your dog to the vet to get it checked out.

And to keep it from spreading, “Limit exposure when we know there's an outbreak to places like, PetSmart., groomers, dog parks; places where they're likely to be exposed to dogs that don't have a good vaccine status.”

Bullock said they haven't had any dogs checked in for the flu in 2018 or last year, but they say at least 46 states had reports of dog flu in 2017.

Just like humans, the flu can last up to five to seven days for dogs. Dogs can spread the flu from five to 20 days after they've been completely cleared of all their symptoms. So it's important to keep them away from other dogs after three weeks of being cleared of the dog influenza.

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