Protecting your pup against the ‘dog flu' - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Protecting your pup against the ‘dog flu'

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If you're cuddled up at home on the couch with the flu, man's best friend may be right beside you. But could you be making your furry friends sick?

Just like humans, a virus can cause big problems for dogs. Canines can catch their own version of influenza. It's called "dog flu", or H3N8.

"They have a lot of respiratory problems," said Dr. Wendy King, veterinarian at the Spears Creek Veterinary Clinic in Elgin. "They get a little nasal discharge, they can get some coughing."

King says H3N8 was discovered around 2004 or 2005.

"They found it in Florida in a kennel where racing greyhounds were," said King. "It turned out that it was a virus from horses, and that it actually jumped species, and it jumped from horses to dogs in the race track."

King says there have been some flu viruses, like the Avian and Swine Flu, that have jumped to humans, but she says that's rare. She adds when viruses do jump species, we know about it.

"A virus that everybody knows that hits multiple species is rabies, that's why everybody knows about rabies," said King.

Because of that, King says medical professionals always keep an eye on the spread of viruses to different species, but to date, she says there's no evidence of our flu or their flu being spread back and forth. She says the dog flu is often found in places where there are a lot of animals.

"It's going to be in a kennel or where there are lots of animals like the racetracks where there are so many greyhounds," she added.

So King says if you've come down with the flu, you should be fine to keep your furry friend close. In fact, she says it may even help you get better faster.

"When somebody is sick, or they don't feel good, or they're elderly and they're achy, pets give them something to focus on," said King. "I think that's so neat. It focuses outside of themselves, so even if you're sick, you love on your pet, you have to get up in the morning to feed your pet. So I think people actually heal better if they do have the pets to focus on."

Just like our strains of influenza, there is a shot for your pets as well. King says there are rarely cases of dog flu in the Midlands, so she does not vaccinate a lot against H3N8. However, she says kennel cough is very common in the Midlands and has symptoms similar to the dog flu. She encourages all pet owners have their dogs vaccinated for the disease.

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