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‘Sick as a dog’ takes on new meaning, as outbreak reaches 46 states, including Washington

Veterinarians are warning pet owners about an outbreak of canine influenza, or dog flu, as it quickly spreads through most of the country.
Veterinarians are warning pet owners about an outbreak of canine influenza, or dog flu, as it quickly spreads through most of the country. Associated Press

Think it’s bad when the kids or your spouse comes down with the flu? They aren’t the only members of the family that you need to worry about.

Veterinarians are warning pet owners about an outbreak of canine influenza, or dog flu, as it quickly spreads through most of the country, according to a story on fox10phoenix.com. Some vets are even recommending owners get their pooch vaccinated with a newly released drug to help reduce the chance they come down with the disease.

Just like this year’s strain of the flu for humans, the effects of dog flu can be serious, as it could lead to infection and in some cases death. The Fox story reported there are concerns the dog flu, which is passed in many of the same ways the flu is passed from person to person, could affect four out of five dogs nationwide.

The dog flu has spread to at least 46 states, the Fox story reported, including Washington, but Fairhaven Veterinary Hospital’s Dr. Mark Kummer wrote in an online post Friday that there has been “no serious increase in flu cases on the West Coast and no confirmed cases reported in Washington for over two years.”

Kummer went on to say that outbreaks of Canine Influenza remain a “low-level” problem in the U.S., but there have been some cases diagnosed in Canada and in dogs imported from overseas.

“Given the lack of total disease, we do not think vaccination is in the best interest of most of our canine patients at this time,” Kummer wrote.

That’s good news for Whatcom County dog lovers, as nursing your dog through the flu can be almost as difficult as it would be for your children, dog show hobbyist Jodie Strait told Fox News.

“It was unreal. It was the worst nightmare that could ever happen,” Straight said. “I went to a dog show to show my dogs, and I almost killed them.”

According to the Fox story, one of Straight’s dogs contracted the disease at a St. Louis dog show, and the virus spread quickly to six other animals, who began showing symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, lethargy, decreased appetite and difficulty breathing.

“Sitting alone with a dog gasping for breath in the middle of the night was horrific and something I would not wish on anyone,” Strait said. “I told (the dogs) they owe me nothing. Just please, please keep breathing…Just breathe… I was one of the lucky ones – mine survived.”

The U.S. is not the only country where dog owners need to be concerned. According to CTV News, Canada is seeing its first confirmed cases of the dog flu.

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