All Things Considered

Humane Society confirms two dog flu cases, warns to watch for symptoms

A dog gets checked by a vet.
A dog is inspected by a vet before at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, Minn., on March 22.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

The Animal Humane Society has now confirmed two cases of dog flu in its Golden Valley facility. That's after the shelter, along with those in Coon Rapids and Woodbury, closed last week because of suspected cases.

Most of the 200 dogs in the society's care began showing signs of infection after a dog that had been exposed to the virus arrived last month. Director of Veterinary Medicine Graham Brayshaw said the dog came from an overcrowded partner shelter in another state.

He said it is likely that Minnesotans adopted infected animals before the outbreak was known, and told dog owners to watch for symptoms in their pets, particularly if they socialize with other dogs at parks and daycare centers.

“If your animal has any sort of coughing, sneezing or respiratory sign, make sure they are not spending time with other dogs. It is that dog-to-dog contact at dog parks, boarding facilities where they do play groups, things along those lines, probably, where this is going to spread outside the shelter,” Brayshaw said.

“Going for a walk around the block, something along those lines, the risk is — you can never say zero risk, but it is so absolutely tiny. Please keep doing that,” he continued. “It completely depends on your own comfort for risk when it comes to dog parks and those areas right now, but I would say the most important thing is for everyone look at your own dog and make sure they haven’t had any risky exposure you know about and they’re looking healthy before you do it.”

Brayshaw said the most common symptom is consistent hacking that sounds like a cat coughing up a furball. Treatment is similar to what humans would need: rest and fluids.

And just like the flu in humans, Brayshaw said dog flu can be deadly in pets with underlying conditions. Vaccines are available but currently not a part of vets’ recommended shot regimen, because the disease is rare in the state.

Brayshaw said cats can also catch the virus but tend to not get as sick.

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