Veterinarian office anticipates cases of canine flu

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - An associate veterinarian at Green Acres Pet Center says dog can get the flu called canine influenza.

Dr. Liz Stratman, associate veterinarian said there are two strains of the illness, one originating from an equine virus and another from the avian influenza virus.

"There's a big endemic going on in the south bay of the San Francisco area and there's a lot of dogs from the Idaho area that go back and forth between California," she said.

Stratman said their center is preparing and expecting to see it show up in the Magic Valley area, although it is not here yet.

"Idaho is a seropositive state, so it's been diagnosed here. We just haven't seen a big outbreak of it at this point yet," she said.

The canine influenza can be passed around to other dogs, but humans and dogs cannot pass it to each other.

"If you're around a dog that's infected with the flu, you can carry the virus on you and you can expose other dogs to the flu that way, but you yourself will not get sick," she explained.

Symptoms of the dog flu are "generic" she said.

"It may be as simple at lethargy, not wanting to eat or drink, and then we can see ocular nasal discharge as well... sometimes even a fever," she said.

If a dog has the flu, owners can bring dogs in to get tested.

"There's testing out there that we can do to say exactly, or we can see the symptoms and say this is what we think is going on, and then from there, we can decide if we want to treat symptoms," she said.

Stratman said there is a vaccination for the canine flu, but it only helps with the symptoms.

"We can't treat with a medication, you kind of have to let it run it's course, so you can let it treat with a lot of medications for the symptoms we're seeing, but we don't treat the flu itself," she said.

If a dog has the influenza, it is also contagious on objects and can be transmitted through the air, just like the regular flu for humans.

"Dogs can actually spread it before they're actively showing symptoms. So usually, the first 24 to 48 hours, you don't know that the dog has the canine influenza virus," she continued. "That's when they're spreading it... a lot of dogs can take up to two to three weeks of them actually being sick before they overcome it and they always say quarantine dogs three to four weeks at least to be safe."

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