Cleveland, Ohio vet expresses concern over canine flu outbreak

ORANGE VILLAGE, Ohio (WJW) — As human flu cases rise nationwide, there is renewed concern about an outbreak of canine flu.

Veterinarians have warned that an increase in holiday travel could quickly worsen the surge in pet populations. Dr. Earl Rogoff, owner of Orange Village Animal Hospital, said the dog’s lifestyle is key to understanding infection risk.

“A dog goes into the kennel, and all the dogs come out of the kennel with it,” Rogoff said.

“If you put your dog in a kennel or dog park or groom with other dogs and after three to five days they start coughing, become lethargic and have respiratory symptoms, then you should definitely get it checked out by a veterinarian.”

Families travel with pets or leave them in kennels this holiday season. Rogoff encourages pet owners to ask boarding facility managers about recent outbreaks of canine flu, as well as family and friends they plan to visit with their pets.

“You don’t know that the dog that’s in the crate next to your dog isn’t from Chicago, or from the South, where there’s a bigger flu problem that might expose your dog,” he said.

VCA Animal Hospitals treat pets across the country and report that dog flu is highly contagious. According to Dr. Rita Uhle, medical director of VCA Fairfield Animal Hospital in Lancaster, as many as 20 percent of dogs are asymptomatic. Once it breaks out, it is difficult to control.

“100 percent of dogs, if they come into contact with this virus, will get it because they don’t have innate immunity because it’s a new virus,” Uhle said. “When you have 20 percent of the dogs that are transmissible and highly contagious, that’s definitely going to cause problems. That’s going to drive your outbreaks.”

Dog flu may become more common in Ohio due to travel and may be confused with other illnesses, including kennel cough, Uhle said. Pet owners are encouraged to ask whether vaccinations are right for their dogs.

“If you have any questions, call your veterinarian,” Rogoff says. “Dr. Google isn’t always accurate, your veterinarian can give you the best advice because they know you and your pet.”


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