Your pet dog may be at risk of developing canine influenza H3N2 or dog flu, veterinarians in the United States warned, as the virus is apparently spreading across the country.

Media reports on Sunday said canine influenza H3N2, a highly-contagious strain of dog flu, has been detected in Austin, Texas. Experts are advising pet owners to be cautious.

One dog in Austin has reportedly been diagnosed with the infectious strain. With that, vets in Texas are still on alert for new H3N2 cases in the state.

The H3N2 outbreak has sickened more than 2,000 dogs in 40 states since last spring. The virus was detected in April 2015 in Chicago after 1,000 dogs became ill.

It is not known how H3N2 got into the U.S., but experts believe that the strain is a mutation of a similar one that caused an outbreak in Asia a few years ago.

'Spreading Like Wildfire'

The canine influenza H3N2 virus spreads in dogs through direct contact. Unfortunately, it moves quickly through a local dog population.

Once the dog flu develops in a community, there is a high risk of continuous transmission, experts said.

"It starts and it will move through an area like wildfire. It gets into the kennels, rescues and shelters," said Texas veterinarian Dr. Luann Ervin.

Ervin added that because these places house a large number of dogs, the strain can easily be transmitted.

In December last year, several dogs got ill after remaining at Holiday Kennels in Washington. Two dogs were confirmed to be H3N2-positive, officials said.

The dogs were treated, and the kennels closed off for several days. The facility was disinfected and cleaned, while government regulators investigated the case.

Signs And Symptoms Of Canine Influenza H3N2

How would you know if your dog has dog flu? Veterinarians said symptoms of the illness include runny nose, coughing, lack of appetite, fever, lethargy, and sometimes, nasal discharges.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) said that a cough persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with cough suppressants or antibiotics. Dogs may have a dry cough similar to the one induced by kennel cough or a moist cough.

The most severe symptoms are the ones that exhibit pneumonia, such as high-grade fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Treatment For Dog Flu

If you immediately notice any signs or symptoms, you must take your pet dog to the veterinarian for treatment and proper diagnosis.

Experts suggest that proper nutrition and proper care may assist dogs in being immune to the virus. Drinking fluids will also be good for their health. The AVMF said most dogs recover from canine influenza after two to three weeks.

Photo : Jase Curtis | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.