Amarillo veterinarian discusses "dog flu" symptoms, treatments

Pete and his owner, Sandra Clark, spent part of the Nov. 9 morning at the John Stiff Memorial Dog Park. (ABC 7 Amarillo - Abby Aldrich)

Flu season is in full swing and it is not just impacting humans. Cases of canine influenza, otherwise known as the "dog flu", have been popping up all across the country, making its way into Texas. While dog flu has not made its way into the Panhandle just yet, it is something veterinarians want pet owners to be aware of.

Dr. Beau Schilling, a veterinarian at Swann Animal Clinic, said the dog flu is an emerging disease. Schilling tells ABC 7 News dogs will show symptoms just like people would if infected with the flu virus.

“They feel tired, they have a fever, they may not want to eat or eat as much [and] you may see a cough or runny nose," Schilling said. "Similar [symptoms] to influenza in people.”

Dog flu can spread from contaminated food bowls, contaminated surfaces and locations where dogs can come into contact with each other.

“If they go to boarding and grooming places where there is a lot of dogs in a small space, pet stores, pet fairs, public areas [like the] the dog park," Schilling said. "Any place where a lot of dogs are in close contact with each other [and] where these diseases such as kennel cough and [dog] flu can be spread from dog to dog.”

Schilling said dog flu is not contagious to humans and the virus stems from dog to dog contact.

There is a vaccine for the virus that fights against both strains of dog flu known as H3N2 and H3N8. Schilling said since the virus is not currently impacting dogs in the Panhandle, the clinic will vaccinate dogs who are at high risk for the flu. He said if your dog is planning on catching a plane ride or venturing to a major metropolitan city, like Chicago, Dallas or Houston, then the dog would be considered for the vaccination.

However, dog owners stress the importance of making sure your animal is up to date on all vaccinations.

“Get them vaccinated," Amarillo resident Sandra Clark said. "That way you can protect them and they can live a long, healthy life.”

Schilling said by keeping your pet vaccinated, you are preventing your dog from many viruses and diseases.

“The bottom line is just keep your dog vaccinated against the common things," Schilling said, "and you’re unlikely to have problems.”

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