CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With the dog days of summer comes a warning for your furry, four-legged friends.
A highly contagious and potentially deadly virus is making its way to the Carolinas. According to the Charlotte Observer, the aptly named dog flu has already killed two dogs in North Carolina, as the disease spreads across the southern United States. No cases have been reported or confirmed in the Charlotte area, but the virus' ability to spread has animal experts on alert.
Veterinarians say the virus is extremely contagious, especially in places where dogs come into close contact with one another, such as dog parks and doggy day care.
“It is highly contagious,” said one veterinarian. “We don’t want them to come into the hospital and infect the hospital.”
Officials said the sick dogs were linked to dog shows in Florida and Georgia, and that travel is how vets expect the flu to reach even more canines.
So, how can you tell if your dog is fighting the virus? Look for symptoms you’d see in a human.
“A lot of the same clinical signs as flu in humans,” the vet said. “Sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, those sorts of things.”
According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, dog owners should look for the following symptoms:
- Dry, hacking cough (similar to kennel cough)
- Lack of appetite
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Fever (normal temperature is 101-102)
There is some good news, though. According to the Center for Disease Control, there is no evidence of transmission from dogs to humans, so this isn’t a threat to you or your children at this time.
And experts say they aren’t telling pet owners to avoid dog parks and social settings but to simply be aware of the signs of sickness. If you notice any symptoms from your pet, call your veterinarian immediately.