Tag Archives: dog

Do Dogs Need a Flu Shot? Combatting Dog Flu in Arizona

Combatting Dog Flu in Arizona: What to Know About Flu Shots for Dogs

Cases of dog flu in Arizona have been in the news recently, with some limited
outbreaks recorded in Northern Arizona. Naturally, we’ve had a lot of calls from
concerned pet parents. We totally get it. Our pets are beloved family members. With
these outbreaks, some of us are left asking: do dogs need a flu shot? Or worse, does
my dog have the flu?

Since we happen to have more than 100 knowledgeable veterinarians within our
AZPetVet family, we decided to ask Dr. Chris Hummel from Westbrook Animal
Hospital to answer the most frequently asked questions about the dog flu in Arizona.

Q: Is dog flu the same as people flu?

No. From a viral standpoint, dog flu is NOT the same as people flu. The two strains of
Canine Influenza viruses found in the United States are H3N8 which researchers
believe originated in horses, and N3N2 which is likely of avian origin imported
directly from Asia. In very rare cases the dog flu virus has been known to infect cats,
but the flu poses little risk to cats beyond a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing.

People don’t get dog flu, and dogs don’t get people flu. However, in people and in
dogs, there’s a gap between being exposed to the flu virus and developing
symptoms. That’s why we’ll so often see outbreaks happen in clusters. Somebody is
contagious and doesn’t know it until it’s too late; then suddenly everyone is sick.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association:
“H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases
appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing
respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious
during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing
clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a
subclinical infection and shed the virus.”

Q: How would a dog catch the flu?

Almost the same way a person would. The virus is transmitted through the air by
sneezing and coughing (or barking, drooling and licking), or by contact with infected
surfaces including areas like communal water dishes. Most likely, they would come into contact with another dog that’s contagious. So exposure to the dog flu in
Arizona usually happens at places where you find lots of dogs; the dog park, doggie
daycare, a boarding kennel, grooming salon or dog show.

Q: Does my dog have the flu? – Dog Flu Symptoms

Well, here’s another area where dog flu is similar to people flu. Dogs with the flu will
show symptoms like fever, lethargy, cough, stuffy or runny nose, and watery eyes,
difficulty breathing, wheezing or rapid breathing. Checking on your dog’s wellness is
key to answering the question “does my dog have the flu”. If these symptoms don’t
sound like your dog’s or are more severe, see this article about dog poisoning to help
determine if you’re dealing with something more serious.

You’ll be able to tell your dog is not feeling well. Keep them quiet and away from
other pets to avoid exposing them to the virus. You don’t want to spread the dog flu
in Arizona. After isolating your dog, then it’s time to get busy.

The Canine Influenza virus can remain viable on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on
clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. Wash your hands frequently. Wash
your clothing, and clean and disinfect other items your pet may have touched. These
include kennels and crates, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, bedding, and toys.

Q: Is dog flu dangerous?

Do dogs need a flu shot? Is it serious enough to warrant giving my dog a flu shot?
The severity of the flu varies depending on the viral strain, the pet’s age, and overall
health. Most otherwise healthy dogs will recover from the flu without a problem or any special treatment required. However, it’s important to note that the cough may
last for up to 3-4 weeks.

Older dogs with weakened immune systems or puppies with underdeveloped
immunity are more at risk as their bodies will have a harder time fighting the virus,
so there’s a higher risk for developing pneumonia.

Dogs with short muzzles, like pugs and bulldogs, already have a compromised
respiratory system. Sore throats and stuffy noses would naturally make them feel
quite sick, so they’d need close monitoring and a trip to the vet’s office.

Q: How is Canine Influenza treated?

There is no specific treatment for Canine Influenza; however, if the answer to the
question “does my dog have the flu” is yes, then there are ways to support your dog
and keep them comfortable. The majority of treatments used in severe cases are
supportive. They may include IV fluids, oxygen, antibiotics, breathing treatments,
and mucolytics (a class of medications which help break down mucus to make it
easier to expel it from the lungs).

Q: So do dogs need a flu shot?

While vaccines are available for canine influenza, vaccination would only be
recommended for dogs at high risk for infection. It is important to note, vaccination
can only reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza, it may not prevent
infection. However, the flu shot can potentially reduce the severity and duration of
the flu. It’s best to talk over your concerns with your vet.

Q: Anything else we need to know?

One last, but very important reminder – people can’t get dog flu, but they can
inadvertently spread it if they’ve touched a contaminated surface (or petted one).
That’s why animal hospitals follow strict guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. We
take extra precautions when seeing pets that are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
If you suspect your pet has the flu or has been exposed to it, or they’re having
respiratory symptoms, call us first. You may receive special instructions for bringing
your dog into the office. These restrictions are in place to reduce the risk of exposing
other animals in the waiting room to something that could be contagious.

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Heartworm 101

Heartworm preventionAs residents of Arizona, it once seemed that heartworm disease was not a big problem for our furry family members. It was easy for us to assume our furry family members are protected from heartworm disease since mosquitos are typically found in wet climates. However, the fact is that heartworm cases have increased exponentially over the last several years, having been documented in all 50 states – including a record of 397 positive cases right here in Maricopa County in 2018. With this in mind, we wanted to share some information about heartworm disease in order to help you make informed decisions on these important areas that impact the health and wellness of your pet.

What exactly is heartworm disease? Heartworm is a serious parasitic disease found primarily in dogs and cats. In reality, we are talking about actual worms, and potentially many of them (up to several hundred!). The worms can be up to a foot-long and live directly within the heart or the neighboring large blood vessels for years. As heartworm disease advances, it can result in a myriad of health complications for our pets including severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and can even be fatal.

How does a pet get heartworm? All it takes is a bite from a mosquito that is carrying the disease. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is a carrier of the disease, which is why prevention is the best protection we can give to our pets.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease? Although there are minimal symptoms in the beginning stages, the longer the infection is present the more likely symptoms will arise. The most common symptoms are coughing, fatigue and decreased appetite. Because symptoms are usually well hidden in the early stages, prevention is key to help avoid the life-long impact that heartworm disease can have on our pets.

How do we prevent heartworm disease? Heartworm prevention is as easy as a monthly oral or topical medication that you can pick up at your next appointment. Heartworm medications cannot prevent infection from occurring but instead treats the disease by clearing out any existing heartworm larvae that were transmitted since their last monthly treatment. We also recommend an annual blood test to help ensure that the preventative is working as expected. With an annual test at our hospital combined with your commitment to providing the monthly preventatives at home, we have the best shot of protecting your pet from this preventable disease.

Why you should incorporate a heartworm preventative into your pet’s wellness plan:
We understand that adding a heartworm preventative can feel like a big step, adding a little bit of expense and time each month. However,
prevention is incredibly easy in comparison to the alternative – once your pet is infected with heartworms, treatment is costly and difficult for both you, and especially, your pet. Treatment includes antibiotics, steroids, preventatives, and monthly injections to kill the adult worms, as well as hospitalization for your pet, and ongoing treatment and testing.

Talk with us at your next appointment for more information on the preventative options for your pet. As always, we’re here to be your trusted partner to help ensure that your pet’s healthcare plan provides them with a happy and healthy life by your side! Find an AZPetVet location near you.

National Poison Prevention Week: Signs of Poisoning in Pets

It’s National Poison Prevention Week – so it’s a great time to review the signs and symptoms of poisoning in dogs and cats. Pets are notoriously good at hiding pain, however, in the case of ingestion of a toxic substance, the signs can vary based on the particular poison.

If you think your dog or cat has been poisoned or may have ingested a toxic substance, call your veterinarian immediately for assistance! The sooner your dog or cat gets medical treatment, the better the outcome. 

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the most common signs of poisoning generally include (but are not limited to):

Gastrointestinal signs

  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling/excessive salivating
  • Lack of appetite/refusing food

Internal bleeding

  • Coughing of blood
  • Vomiting blood
  • Pale gums
  • A racing heart rate
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Collapse

Kidney failure

  • Bad breath that smells of urine or ammonia
  • Lack of appetite/refusing food
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Absence or decreased urination

Liver failure

  • Jaundice/yellow discoloration of the gums
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Dullness, confusion, acting abnormally
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Black-tar appearance in stool

For more information about potential toxins in the home, click here.

Outside of your personal veterinarian, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

National K-9 Veterans Day

National K-9 Veterans Day is celebrated each March 13th, in honor of the official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps, formed in 1942.  Joseph White, a retired military working dog trainer, originated the idea for the day to honor service dogs who risked their lives for their trainers
and for the safety of our military men and women each day.

Today K-9 forces are an active part of military, police, and rescue duties. Training for each service dog is tailored to meet the demands of the job so the animal and its handler can carry out his or her duties to the fullest. We salute the efforts of all K-9 Veterans and handlers!

How to Be a Responsible Pet Owner

February is Responsible Pet Owner Month, so it’s a perfect time to learn about ways we can all become better pet owners. Fur, fish, feathers or our pets need some key things from their people family members. Being a responsible pet owner means you can show your pets love in a variety of ways .

TRAINING: Pets require firm boundaries and training. Puppy training classes followed by advanced training classes can be fun for your pup who just wants to please you. Regular training helps dogs grow into good boys and girls and canine community citizens.

KEEP THEM SAFE: Always secure pet tags, micro-chips, plus any required licenses and registrations. Check your pet’s tags, licenses and microchip registration information to be sure all contact details are correct. If your pet isn’t microchipped, get it done ASAP.

GOOD NUTRITION: Younger pets will always need more frequent meals. No matter what the age of your pet, you’re going to want to feed them the best foods possible. Always read the Ingredients label and check that it’s been manufactured recently. The first ingredients should alway include some form of named animal protein like beef, chicken, lamb, or fish. Caution: avoid ‘meat by-products or poultry by-products’ as these are usually manufactured from low-cost parts that could come from any number of sources. If a listing includes ‘meal’ – a named type such as beef meal or chicken meal is better than ‘meat meal’. Food formulated for specific animals and different life stages will usually include added essential vitamins and minerals derived from legumes, fruits, vegetables, grains or meat. For those who prefer to leave grain out of the mix by choice or necessity due to diet sensitivities, there are many high quality grain-free foods on the market.

REGULAR EXERCISE: Young dogs often need at least an hour of exercise each day, while some breeds may need more. Age and fitness levels determine how long and vigorous your outings should be. Cats need interactive toys that keep them curious and active. You can also combine nutrition with cats’ natural stalking behavior with special toys designed to hold food or treats. 

DENTAL CARE: If a whiff of your pets’ breath prompts you to say “Eeeewwww!,” you’re not alone! Dental disease is one of the most common problems found during annual wellness exams. Left untreated, the bacteria can lead to issues such as gum disease, tooth infection, bone loss, chronic pain and infection of the kidneys, liver and even the heart. Veterinary dental treatment has evolved over the years. It requires general anesthesia so that the teeth can be thoroughly evaluated and cleaned. Dental x-rays are also taken to examine the health of the mouth.

Since February is also National Pet Dental Health Month – you’ll save $50 off a dental treatment.
Click here to find an AZPetVet location near you.

ANNUAL PREVENTATIVE CARE EXAMS: Annual exams are so much more than just vaccines! During the exam, the doctor will assess your pet from nose to tail. The personal attention your pet receives in the appointment allows us to use their current physical condition, the history provided, and our professional experience to formulate recommendations that we believe will help your pet live the best life possible.

Annual wellness exams can help prevent chronic health problems like diabetes as well as common communicable diseases. Pets will receive any required and/or recommended vaccinations and boosters, plus flea and/or heart worm medications. If it’s been a while since your pet has seen the vet, don’t wait. Schedule an annual wellness exam today. Don’t forget to ask about AZPetVet’s FREE Vaccines for Life program.

Click here to find an AZPetVet location near you.

REGULAR GROOMING: Your pet’s fur, teeth and nails can always use a bit of extra attention. Make sure to regularly groom your pets. Whether you bathe and groom them at home or use one of our experienced pet stylists, your pet will look, feel and smell wonderful. Don’t forget to regularly brush their teeth! Your veterinarian or groomer can show you the best techniques and recommend pet-safe products. Learn more about pet stylists and grooming at AZPetVet.