Dog flu outbreak — it’s a Philly (and South Jersey) thing
Cough. Runny nose. Fever. Feeling tired. All symptoms of the flu not only for humans but dogs, too.
Canine influenza can happen any time of the year but the Philadelphia area including South Jersey is seeing an increase in cases in recent weeks, according to Dr. Adam Christman, the chief veterinary officer at DVM 360 and a board member of The New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.
Also known as dog flu, canine influenza is a Philly thing that has crossed over the Delaware River.
"In Philadelphia is where they're seeing reports. Mount Laurel is just right over on the other side of the bridge. It is a specialty hospital that has critical lists and emergency conditions. So they are treating some dogs that have had influenza," Christman said. He also does relief work at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital.
Christman said a hotbed of cases has not developed in New Jersey.
"It's hard to say where one area has a higher density than another but right now it's Philadelphia just having a little bit of an uptick of it," Christman said.
Dog flu is more serious than human flu and can cause significant respiratory problems for man's best friend. But it can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms which include a snotty cough and discharge from the nose are similar to other illnesses.
Another reason for the increase in cases is a shortage of dog flu vaccine between all the manufacturers
"So that's why I tell the dog parents to check with your veterinarian about supply. The second part to that is to be very proactive. You just want to make sure that you vaccinate ahead of time, because you just don't know and it takes a little bit of time for the vaccine to kick in, similar to us," Christmas said.
Christman said that if a dog is getting vaccinated against kennel cough it should also get the dog flu shot.
How dog flu spreads
Dog influenza spreads through droplets in shared water dishes and at places dogs spend a lot of time.
"So these can include areas such as dog barks, doggy daycare, just taking them around where there's other higher populations of dogs. Dog shows and those kinds of incidences? But it is a dog-to-dog transmission," Christman said.
One good thing that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that humans are better prepared to deal with contagious viruses.
"I think it's come a long way because of the fact that we, as a human race have kind of learned how to address contagious viruses. How this kind of plays out on the animal side is similar so I think that owners now know 'Okay, I'm gonna keep my dog away from other dogs because this might be contagious. Similar to kennel cough or Bordetella," Christman said
The CDC said there is no evidence of canine influenza viruses spreading to humans. There has not been a single reported case of human infection with a canine influenza virus in the U.S. or worldwide.