Albany, New York (PressExposure) August 22, 2009 -- Dog parents can do much to minimize the risk of exposing their pets to the H3N8 virus, commonly referred to as "dog flu." That is the message of Canine Kingdom, a web site devoted to promoting the health and safety of dogs.
"We encourage dog parents to think carefully before they do the things they think of as routine," says Mary Beth Close, founder of Canine Kingdom. "When walking your dog, forego that favorite fire hydrant or telephone pole. Take your pet some place other than the dog park and other places where many dogs come and go. Don't let your animal share a water bowl, particularly with a dog whose health history you know nothing about."
Close encourages dog parents to maintain a heightened awareness of their dog's health. Dog flu symptoms mimic those of summer colds and allergies. One tell-tale symptom present with the dog flu is a fever. If your dog has a runny nose, or is coughing or sneezing in combination with a fever, Close urges dog parents to get their pet to a vet immediately. But even veterinary offices, with their concentrations of animals, can pose a problem. Close urges dog parents to remain in their vehicles, bringing their dog inside when an examination room is open and not 'meeting and greeting' other clients.
"What we want dog parents to do is to use common sense. If you have to travel without your pet, consider hiring a dog sitter rather than putting your animal in a kennel. And if your dog sitter cares for several animals, provide him or her with a supply of disposable shoe covers."
Because the H3N8 virus is so new to the dog world (a virus that jumped from the horse population in 2004), it is virtually certain that any dog who comes in contact with the virus will come down with the flu.
"The good news is that plain soap and water go a long way to disinfect your home and protect your dog from the virus," adds Close.