Massachusetts Division of Animal Health is saying that for the first time ever a cluster of dog flu cases are cropping up in the state, away from the places they are almost always exclusively found, dog racing tracks.
So far, the warning only effects Essex County, and officials are warning pet owners to learn the facts about dog flu and not panic.
About a week ago, Chris Tello became very worried about the health of his 4-month-old Boxer, Diesel.
“On a scale of one to 10, he was a 10,” said Tello. “I noticed he had a hard time breathing, coughing, hacking.”
When Tello brought Diesel to his vet, Dr. Heidi Bassler at the Bassler Veterinary Hospital in Salisbury, he was diagnosed with canine influenza. Now, cases are cropping up everywhere in vet’s offices and animal hospitals all through the area.
“They are coughing, depressed, lethargic, nasal discharge, they can have a fever,” said Bassler.
There was an alert sent out in Essex County at the beginning of May concerning dog flu. People were urged to talk with their vets about the dog flu, especially those that take their dogs to doggy daycare or dogs that spend time in kennels.
“Any dogs that are in contact with other dogs are at greater risk,” according to Dr. Bassler.
Now, a lot of kennels and doggy daycares are requiring dogs coming into the facilities be vaccinated against dog flu. Most dogs have not been exposed to the virus before, which hasn’t given them the proper amount of time to build up an immunity to it. At Paws 4 Play daycare in Salisbury, it’s mandatory
“The canine influenza hasn’t been introduced to this region before, so it’s just a very high likelihood of dogs catching it and carrying it if they are exposed, and we’re trying to get ahead of that,” said Doug Wynne of Paws 4 Play.
The vaccine costs between $50 and $100 for two shots and yearly boosters will be needed after the initial two. Just like in humans, it may not completely protect our furry friends from getting it, but it will reduce the length and severity of things.
This form of the flu is not something humans can pick up, and it’s still rare in Massachusetts. The SPCA in the state is not sending out any big warnings to have all dogs vaccinated immediately, but as with anything medical, seek a professional’s advice before making any decisions that could affect the health and wellbeing of yourself and your loved ones.