What you need to know about dog flu

Canine Flu making dogs sick

Cases of this highly contagious and deadly dog flu have popped up throughout the Midwest, especially in Chicago, where more than 1,000 dogs have become sick.

Although there are only two confirmed cases in Wisconsin, both of which are in Dane County, local experts said it’s important for area dog owners to take precautions.

Flu season may be over for people, but there is a new type of sickness plaguing man’s best friend called canine flu.

Golden retriever Lizzy and owner Matt Miller have known each other for about seven months.

“We got her in late September of last year,” Miller said.

As a pet owner for the first time, Miller admits he is still new to the doggy parenting world.

“I’m the one that probably needs to be trained, not Lizzy so much,” Miller said.

When it comes to his new pooch he’s trying hard to do everything right.

“From keeping her up to date on her vaccinations to keeping her occupied so she doesn’t eat the furniture,” Miller said.

And with serious cases of dog flu popping up, Miller has a new worry to add to his list.

“It’s very contagious,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, a veterinarian at Central Animal Hospital in Onalaska.

The new dog flu strain is called H3N2.

“Some of the early signs of the disease are runny nose with sneezing, coughing, some of the more advanced portions of it there can have a fever, and the animals can get progressively worse from that,” Kratt said.

While there aren’t any cases in La Crosse County, doctors said it’s important to bring your dog into the vet if he or she is sick.

“It’s the No. 1 thing is, get them in, get an exam done, let the medical staff help you determine if trying to isolate the virus or treat for the virus is important,” Kratt said.

If your dog is healthy still take precautionary measures.

“I would not necessarily mix a bunch of dogs that don’t know each other together,” Miller said.

Miller is going to keep a watchful eye but says he’ll continue to bring Lizzy to dog parks as long as there aren’t cases reported close-by.

“Retrievers need to have a lot of exercise,” Miller said. “She’s not a house dog as much as we’d like her to be, she needs her exercise so that she’s occupied and stays healthy.”

The dog flu can live on its own for up to 48 hours so veterinarians say if you are by a sick dog it’s important to change your clothes and wash your hands to prevent spreading it to anyone else’s dog.

Dog flu is not transmittable to humans, however the latest strain the H3N2 strain has been shown to transfer to cats.