The dog flu is hitting pets hard this year, and here’s what you need to know about it

Just when you thought the current flu epidemic couldn’t get any worse: Apparently, the nasty illness isn’t just infecting humans. There’s a bout of dog flu going around, and your poor pupper could be its next victim.

Canine influenza has already hit Washington, California, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Canada, Newsweek reported. And just like in people, the dog flu is extremely contagious — at least among the doggo community.

Since dogs can’t tell you they’re sick (where’s a pet translator when you need one?), you should keep an eye out for flu-like symptoms in your furry friend. The signs are similar to what we see in humans: coughing, sneezing, fever, a decrease in appetite, nasal discharge, or even just a general change in mood.

While you need not worry about catching the flu from your pet, you should bring him or her to the vet if you suspect they’re sick. Why? Up to 10% of untreated dog flu cases lead to death.

How serious, exactly, is the 2018 outbreak? The answer varies greatly depending on who you ask. Some say the dog flu has reached endemic levels this year. But others have said there’s been no increase in cases on the West Coast. There was one animal hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area, though, that did see 50 cases of dog flu over the course of two weeks. Plus, you can never be too careful.

Luckily, you can take precautions to help keep your pup from getting the dog flu.

Canine influenza is spread through coughing, barking, or sneezing, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. So use extra care if your pet regularly goes to a kennel, groomer, or day care facility. The disease can also be spread through objects or people who come in contact with sick dogs.

There’s also a flu vaccine for dogs, surprisingly enough. Though it doesn’t provide 100% protection against the dog flu, you should talk to your veterinarian to see if it’s right for your pet.

Is there anything sadder than seeing a dog with a bad case of the sniffles? We think not.

If you’re a pet owner, just be extra cautious this winter. We can all work together to keep dog flu from spreading!

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