AUSTIN (KXAN) — As many people start boarding their pets for the holidays, veterinarians are warning dog owners of a highly contagious flu they’re seeing. The new strain, H3N2, made it’s way to Texas last week and has been positively detected in Round Rock.
“We now have the H3N2 canine influenza vaccine, so we recommend vaccinating any dogs that may be boarding or around other dogs at dog parks and doggie day out facilities,” explained Dr. Amber Breclaw, a veterinarian at Forest Creek Animal Hospital in Round Rock, in a statement.
While there is a vaccine, most dogs won’t be protected over the Christmas vacation since it takes two booster to provide an immune response to the virus.
“We can just advise that people keep their dogs home and away from other dogs if they are coughing or showing signs of the flu to avoid spreading the infection,” advised Breclaw.
The strain is spread from dog-to-dog. It can also stay on a persons hands and clothes for up to 24 hours and be spread that way.
The dog influenza presents similar symptoms as kennel cough. Dogs will have a heavy cough, lethargy, lack of appetite and a fever.
“All of our dogs when they come here get a completely sanitized area and wash all their bowls by hand in a disinfectant after they eat,” said Vanessa Calibria, Manager at Barking Hound Village. “In the morning we change out all their water buckets to make sure that they’re clean and we don’t double up any of our dogs.”
The boarding facility is expecting anywhere from 70-100 dogs during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. Calibira said they’re keeping an extra eye out for dogs who present any symptoms, but they already have a strict policy for cleanliness. Workers have a daily progress report to track each client’s behavior and their health. If a dog shows symptoms of any illness, they’re quarantined and their owners are contacted and a veterinarian if needed.
“Hopefully they’ll get this vaccination up and running so it’s more effective and more widely distributed so people can have it,” said Calibria.
She said after the first scare of dog flu a couple years ago they required their clients to have the vaccination.
“The new strain popped up so fast that the ball was already rolling, so we didn’t really have a lot of time except for just informing our clients,” explained Calibria, who said they’ll require the new vaccination once there are more vials in the area.
Veterinarians say H3N2 has a low death rate, but it’s still an illness owners should want to protect their dogs from.
“Just not to panic. If it’s a situation in which they’re [dog owners] extremely terrified, just know they don’t need to bring their dog in for boarding, they can maybe find a friend to take care of their dog,” said Calibria as advice to dog owners.