Dogs can’t catch human flu

Dog flu is being reported in at least five states, but there have not been any cases of the virus spreading to humans, it is contagious to other dogs.

Dogs can catch the flu, but it’s a different strain than the one that affects humans, and even though flu viruses are constantly mutating, there haven’t been any cases of humans being infected with the canine strain or dogs being infected with human flu.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is watching for the possibility.

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Unfortunately, there is currently no way to test if your dog is contagious.

If your four-legged pal does develop flu symptoms, be aware most dogs recover within two to three weeks. However, some dogs may develop a secondary infection that can lead to more severe illness and pneumonia.

Dogs diagnosed with the flu must be kept away from other dogs for at least 21 days to prevent the virus from spreading to one another. Veterinarians say you should wait at least two weeks before taking your dog to public places if you think they’ve been exposed to the flu.

Just like humans, those symptoms may include a cough, runny nose, fever, decreased appetite, and lethargy.

In the Pacific Northwest there haven’t been any reported cases of dog flu this year, but veterinarian Dr. Eric Bucki, who practices in Florida, says it’s good to get ahead of the virus by getting your pooch vaccinated.

The vaccinations are especially helpful for dogs that socialize with other canines at doggy daycares, dog parks, or kennels.

"What we do is advocate 'herd immunity,' where, let's just try to vaccinate as many individuals as possible, even if they're healthy and don't have the symptoms or signs," said Bucki.

The same applies to humans – if we all get vaccinated even though we’re healthy, it can help stop the spread.