Dog flu: should you be worried?

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV)-- Man's best friend can catch the flu, but it's not spreading as rapidly as you may think.

"We haven't had it in this area at least not very much. It is not the same disease as what we are getting so it is not transmissible between animals and people," said Dr. Cynthia Linner, veterinarian.

Many recent national reports claim the virus is impacting canines across America, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Merck Animal Health is the creator of the only available dog flu vaccine on the market.

A recent article stated the dog flu spread to at least 46 states, but the article's wording doesn't make clear that Merck's figures are accounting for all cases reported since 2007.

However, veterinarians said it's still important to make sure your pet doesn't come down with the contagious disease.

There are currently two dog flu viruses in the U.S. but the latest outbreaks are all from the H3N2 virus, which was first detected in 2015.

Your dog it most likely to catch the flu from other canines. If they do come down with the virus, it's important to take the right steps.

"They have a vaccine that is out there but the question is do you want to have vaccinations for something that you are really not being exposed to and then if it comes to the area and you are not vaccinated then you wish you had. If it doesn't come to the area and they have a reaction to the vaccine then you wish you didn't. If they are around other dogs I would recommend getting the bordetella vaccine, which is an oral vaccine, that way if they do come down with the flu it is less likely to be severe," said Linner.

Those at the Marion County Humane Society tells us winter is a challenge to care for animals, but luckily they have never experienced any outbreaks. They encourage owners to make sure animals are warm and have plenty of food.

"Definitely get your dogs vaccinated, keep them inside and out of the bitter cold, and keep them as healthy as you can," said Ashley Higginbotham.

If your dog has the flu, you should keep your pet isolated for three to four weeks so there is no risk of infecting other dogs.

Dr. Linner also said it is important to make sure your animal have plenty of shelter and water. She said most animals can be outside in the cold as long as they have a shelter that blocks the wind. Also make sure your animal's water is not frozen.