Animal Owners and Lovers Told to Guard Against Dog Flu


                                                                                                                            Cases of canine influenza seemed to appear out of nowhere last year in Connecticut, and it could re-occur this year, according to a Milford Veterinarian.
                                                                                                                            There were a number of documented cases in Fairfield and New Haven counties in 2010. This year, a popular dog park in Trumbull was ordered closed in May for a few weeks. While cases of canine influenza have been reported in 35 states, New Haven County seems to have avoided the disease this year, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Specific numbers are not available because canine influenza is a relatively new disease. 
                                                                                                                              Dr. Lisa Saabye, a veterinarian in Providence, R.I., who is affiliated with a company that manufactures a vaccine for canine influenza, said the disease can lead to pneumonia if the dog is not vaccinated. “Canine influenza can commonly be confused with kennel cough,” Saabye said recently. “Although the symptoms are similar, dogs who catch canine influenza will have a more serious cough of possible fever from the illness.”

Because canine influenza is now new, Saabye said it is not as easily diagnosed. The virus can be contracted through the air and by dogs coming into contact with one another’s fur and saliva. About 80 percent of the dogs infected with have a mild form of the disease, such as loss of appetite or nasal discharge, Saabye said, and a smaller percentage may progress to a fatal state where they get pneumonia.
                                                                                                                              “At first,” Saabye said, “scientists thought greyhounds were the only dogs to get it and contracted it from horses.” It was about 2004 when scientists started noticing dogs were developing an unknown respiratory illness, Saabye said. Dr. Lee Lupsitz, a veterinarian at VCA Baybrook Animal Hospital in Milford, said there was definitely an outbreak of canine influenza around New Haven last summer, but not this season. “I have not seen any cases yet this year,” Lipsitz said.
                                                                                                                              Dr. Cheryl Sackler, a veterinarian at Naugatuck Veterinary Hospital, said she has never seen any cases of canine influenza. Sackler said she has seen plenty of dogs with kennel cough and pneumonia, for which she prescribed antibiotics, and the dogs got better. Sackler said facilities such as dog shelters should vaccinate dogs to help prevent the spread of canine influenza.
                                                                                                                        Milford Health Director Dr. A. Dennis McBride said he’s aware of canine influenza, and there are several different forms of the flu, but the good news is it does not cross from one species to another.

Recent Posts