By Michelle Heron
A powerful new strand of dog flu circulating in the Midwest is causing dog owners locally to flood veterinarians with calls wanting to know how they can keep their pet safe.
Kristen Fulton likes to bring her dogs to the Red Bank Dog Park to help them get some exercise.
“We live downtown, we have no yard for them to stretch their legs so I like to get out here as much as I can and get them to chase the Chuck It ball,” she said.
Castor and Polly are brother and sister. Fulton makes sure she does everything she can to keep the 3 year old dogs healthy.
“We've managed to keep them okay. We give them their Heartworm and their flea and tick stuff especially now that it's getting to be summer,” she added.
Other dog owners are worried about a new strand of dog flu spreading rapidly in the Chicago area.
Dr. Melissa Mays is a veterinarian at RIVER Animal Hospital. She says the new strand is a highly contagious repertory virus but isn't a threat to our area.
“It's a very big risk and because of that we need to be aware of it and as a community we need to be aware of it. But right now, it's not an immediate threat to our area,” Mays said.
Symptoms including coughing, sneezing and a low grade fever and lasts for two to three weeks but the first two to four days are most contagious.
“At the same time, your dogs don't have to go up nose to nose or sneeze on each other. They can go to a dog park where there's been another infected dog or a restaurant that's there,” she added.
Mays says awareness is the best protection. If your dog is showing signs, the best thing to do is to isolate them from other pets.
Making sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations is also important.
“They don't prevent the disease, but if your pet does contract that disease it often decreases severity, decreases the duration of the illness,” Mays added.
Keeping your dog's water bowls clean is also important because good hygiene can go a long way to keeping your pet healthy and happy.
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