Local veterinarian warns dog flu cases on the rise in the Tennessee Valley

Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) – The Canine Influenza or dog flu is on the rise here in Chattanooga.

Dr. Jim Hammon, with Northgate Animal Hospital in Hixson, said he’s recently seen cases jump significantly.

“So typically, we might see a couple of, maybe three coughing dogs a month, and we’re seeing maybe five or six a week at this point,” said Dr. Hammon. “So we’ve always had kennel cough or tracheal bronchitis, and there’s a vaccine that can be given intra-nasally or orally that takes care of that. But this is different. This is the canine influenza virus that we’re dealing with now. There’s two strains, the first one, the H3N2 was actually diagnosed in in the Florida area. They feel like that came from racehorses that it went to racing greyhounds, and so that was in 2004, then in the other strain, they identified in 2015, in Chicago, and they think that one was from avian influenza that jumped to the canine strain.”

Chattanooga is known to be a dog friendly city with numerous parks for your playful pup, however Dr. Hammon said it’s best to avoid those areas for now.

“Right now, with the uptick that we’re seeing and the fact that it’s kind of like the flu virus, you know, if you’re around people that have got the flu, you’re probably gonna get the flu. So with the dogs, if they’re around other dogs that are coughing and sneezing, it is aerosolized you know, so even barking can aerosolize that,” said Dr. Hammon. “So right now, since it’s been in Nashville, and Murfreesboro, and now in Chattanooga, in the Tennessee area, we’re recommending that people be very cautious about going to the dog parks, doing boarding right now unless absolutely necessary. Taking their dogs to the pet store  where they walk around and even grooming appointments. Maybe delaying those appointments until we get past this uptick that we’re seeing in the flu virus.”

The good news is, there is a vaccine available.

“Most of the pets recover. It’s a very, very low percentage that might develop a pneumonia, or have fatal consequences. But it’s very contagious as well. And probably at least 80% of the dogs that come in contact with the virus are probably going to develop clinical signs. But the good news is, there is a vaccine that can be given to the pets, and it seems to be very effective,” said Dr. Hammon.

The main symptoms of dog flu are similar to the flu in humans. You should look for runny noses, coughing, fevers, loss of appetite.

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