Highly contagious canine flu prompts Kansas veterinarians to be proactive


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The flu normally targets people, but a strain of influenza can also be harmful to our furry, four-legged friends.

Canine flu is considered to be highly contagious. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it infects about 80 percent of all the dogs that come in contact with it.

Right now, several states, including Georgia and Florida are reporting cases of canine influenza.

The epicenter of those cases revolves around two dog shows that were held in both those states.

Don Ristow brought his 10-month-old dog, Flora, to the Animal Hospital at Auburn Hills Tuesday to get vaccinated for the canine flu.

Ristow says Flora has participated in dog shows and will be in another one at the end of the month in Oklahoma City.

He says he also brought his one and a half year old therapy dog, Rosie, since she travels with them.

“We travel through the Midwest for dog shows, there is a lot of exposure to the different diseases, so, several shows have been cancelled because of the flu that has been spread,” said Ristow.

Ristow’s Veterinarian, Dr. Gary Stamps, says he recommended that dogs at his practice that he considered high risk get vaccinated.

“Most common symptom is a cough, it can present with a fever, just lethargy or just not feeling well,” said Dr. Stamps.

Dr. Stamps says canine flu resembles kennel cough but is much more severe.

“It’s more serious, many dogs can develop pneumonia, and we can see some puppy dogs that die from it,” said Dr. Stamps.

With a simple prick of a needle, both Flora and Rosie got the protection they need.

“It helps the body produce some antibodies, or protection if you will, against the virus if they were to come in contact with it,” said Dr. Stamps.

It also gives a dog owner, like Ristow, a little peace of mind.

“I think it’s worth considering, definitely just happy to be able to get the vaccine,” said Ristow.

All of this might sound scary for all dog owners, but Dr. Stamps says he isn’t ready to sound the alarms just yet.

He says, right now, there aren’t any confirmed cases of canine flu in Kansas.

He says for the average dog owner, it is best to sit tight right now.

Dr. Stamps says dog owners should be mindful and on the lookout for any of the symptoms associated with the canine flu.

If your dog exhibits any of those symptoms, Dr. Stamps said it would be best to get your dog vaccinated.

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