Vets say dog flu a growing concern in Ohio

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Has your dog gotten its flu shot? It may sound crazy, but more groomers, doggy day cares and boarders are requiring dogs be vaccinated against canine influenza.

Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Mutchler with the Animal Medical Center in Gahanna said it’s a growing concern.

Summer is when we take our dogs to the park and on road trips. Dr. Mutchler said that’s exactly when the dog flu spreads. After recent outbreaks in Chicago, she said it’s only a matter of time before it happens here.

Any dog that is seen by a vet, groomed or comes to doggy day care at the Animal Medical Center has to get a dog flu shot.

“Dogs are so social. They like to run right up and sniff each other right away. Especially if they’re in day care or boarding or grooming situations it’s just going to spread before you even realize the other dog might be sick,” said Dr. Mutchler.

Dr. Mutchler said the dog flu outbreaks in Chicago over the past two years shut down clinics for weeks. It’s a risk she won’t take.

“Who’s to say we’re not going to have another outbreak this summer. It happens in the summer with travel.”

Jennifer Waddell loves coming to the Pizzurro Dog Park in Gahanna with her Border Collie Aoife. She said she doesn’t get a flu shot, so why would her dog?

“Dogs are going to get colds just like people do, just like kids. I don’t really feel like over-vaccinating for everything is a good idea,” said Waddell.

Phil Germann is a new dog owner. He had never heard of the dog flu, but said the vaccine is something he’ll ask about when his dog gets her shots.

“See what they recommend. If it’s not too expensive, seems like something that might be worthwhile, save you some trouble, so she doesn’t get sick,” said Germann.

Dr. Mutchler said canine influenza has been documented in Ohio. While most dogs recover she said the virus can develop into life-threatening pneumonia.

“The scary part is it’s just so contagious,” she said.

She said a simple shot could save your dog’s life.

Cornell University tracks canine influenza cases. It says there have been 87 confirmed H3N2 Canine Influenza cases in Ohio since March of 2015. Dr. Mutchler said the number of cases is likely much higher since many dogs are never tested.

There are two known strains of canine influenza. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, loss of appetite, fever, rapid breathing and lethargy. Dr. Mutchler said your dog is at a higher risk of being exposed to the dog flu if they go to dog parks, are boarded at kennels, go to doggy day care, if they’re groomed or go to the vet. There is a USDA approved vaccine for both known strains of canine influenza.

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