Tips on how to prevent your dog from getting the flu

While the flu season has been deadly for humans, a different kind of flu is also affecting dogs.

Both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains have been reported in Northern Nevada, and veterinarians say it's likely the dog flu will make its way to Las Vegas.

Dog flu -- a highly contagious respiratory illness that can be passed from dog to dog and sometimes cats -- commonly starts with a cough, and as such, can sometimes be confused with or mistaken for the more common and well-known “kennel cough,” according to veterinarians with Banfield Pet Hospital. Symptoms can worsen and lead to fever, nasal discharge, lethargy, loss of appetite -- or worse, progress to pneumonia. 

Symptoms of dog flu generally last 7 to 10 days but a dog could be contagious for up to three weeks, according to Banfield Pet Hospital veterinarians. However, dog flu is not contagious to humans at this point. 

While it's possible to get the human flu at any time of year, most of the time it's during particular seasons, Banfield vets report. Dog flu generally doesn't have a seasonal pattern. 

How do you prevent your dog from catching the flu? Here are some tips from Banfield veterinarians, DogFlu.com and Dog Dojo

  • Get your dog vaccinated
  • Avoid direct contact with other dogs
  • Avoid sharing objects or touching surfaces that may be contaminated
  • Wash hands and clothes after touching other dogs
  • Stay away from areas with reported outbreaks, such as dog parks 
  • Keep dog away from other dogs if infected
  • Boost your dog's immune system with nutrition and supplements
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