Dog Flu Explanation from Dr. Natalie Marks


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Dog flu is in the Chicago area, and there are outbreaks around the nation, which Dr. Natalie Marks and myself discuss on my national radio show, Steve Dale’s Pet World, on WGN radio.

Listen HERE as Marks talks dog flu.

The dog flu that arrived in Chicago in 2015 (the H3N2 strain) has now hit 46 states, with current outbreaks around the countryThe flu even briefly appeared in Canada. And, H3N2 remains in the Chicago area.

Dr. Natalie Marks

Marks explains that you must plan the dog flu vaccine in advance before traveling because after the initial injection, a booster is required about three weeks later. Why is this necessary? Marks provides a medical explanation.

What makes tracking dog flu more complicated is that around 20 percent of dogs with flu are asymptomatic; they appear to be fine but they are as contagious as sneezing and wheezing dogs.

Marks notes that we have to think more creatively about how dog flu can be spread—from communal water bowls that small businesses might leave outside their doors to common use elevators used by many dogs in high-rise buildings. And, this bug can even live on objects like dog food bags at pet stores or on a person’s shoes. There’s only one real protection, says Marks: vaccination.

Unlike the human flu vaccine, which tries to broadly target strains, in dogs there are only two strains of flu: H3N8 and H3N2. There are vaccines available for each individual strain, and a vaccine that covers both strains. To date, H3N8 and H3N2 are the only known strains to occur in dogs in the U.S. Marks says people cannot get the dog flu. Cats can get dog flu, but that appears to be rare.

Also on the show, listener Bob asks about CBD oil for pets, and Dr. Marks doesn’t discount the use of cannabis in pets.

And, Dr. Marks explains leptospirosis in 15 seconds.

I also briefly reference the story about what’s happening now at the Animal Welfare League of Chicago, and it goes far beyond dog flu.