The Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown is telling pet owners to keep an eye out for signs of canine influenza or dog flu.
Like human flu, dog flu is highly contagious, and causes cough, runny nose, and fever. There are no recorded cases of canine flu being passed to humans.
Also as with people, not all dogs with the flu will need medical attention. Care at home is enough. But it is important to keep an eye on very young or very old dogs, and dogs with other health problems.
“In some cases they can get quite sick. They can get pneumonia and have trouble breathing and in rare cases they can even die,” said Dr. Jason Stull, a veterinary epidemiologist and an adjunct professor at AVC.
Avoid spreading the disease
If your dog does need to see a vet, said Stull, you should call ahead.
“It is very contagious,” he said.
“We need to take precautions to make sure that that dog doesn’t come right into the waiting room or the lobby of the veterinary clinic and potentially transmit the disease to everyone else.”
Dogs with the flu can be contagious for a couple days before symptoms appear and for as long as three weeks.
The current risk for dog flu on P.E.I. is quite low, said Stull.
But if your dog spends a lot of time with other dogs, especially dogs from the U.S., where there are dog flu outbreaks, there is a vaccine available and you might want to consider it.