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I am the Owner/President of Snaggle Foot Dog Walks & Pet Care in Round Lake Beach, Illinois. I live there with my puppy Bandit. I love reading stories and information about pets which could help both owners and animals.  Please feel free to check out our dog walking and pet sitting services.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Canine Flu and Kennel Cough on the rise in Chicago

BY:  Laurie Brzostowski, President, Snaggle Foot Dog Walks and Pet Care-Round Lake, IL

Yesterday morning I was listening to the news and heard that Canine Flu and Kennel Cough are on the rise in Chicago and is now considered a serious outbreak.

Because I own a pet sitting business I wanted to share the information with everyone who may live in the Chicagoland area.

I have already contacted my clients (past and present) just so they are aware of the situation and what our procedures are at Snaggle Foot Round Lake in making sure our clients dogs are safe.  I have also posted this information on our Snaggle Foot Facebook Page.

Here is the information regarding this outbreak.  I have separated the stories by Kennel Cough first and then Canine Flu.

Kennel Cough:
According to the report, and Dr. Natalie Marks in Chicago says it's a strain of bordetella, often called kennel cough. Other veterinarians aren't certain, and suggest it's possible that the infectious culprit could be the canine influenza virus. Cook County veterinarian and rabies administrator Dr. Donna Alexander says she's just not sure what it is.

But whatever the cause, some dogs are getting sick, and some have reportedly died.  The vaccine for kennel cough might be somewhat protective, but this bordetella strain might not be affected by the vaccine. There is a vaccine for the canine flu, but usually vaccines are suggested in places only where there is an outbreak - which might be what's happening, or not. Certainly, the bordetella vaccine is suggested anyway for all dogs who frequently encounter other dogs.

There's no need to panic, but taking logical precautions (aside from vaccine protection) might be prudent, such as first checking with your veterinarian to determine if there are reports of the virus where you live. Some areas are seeing many sick dogs, others not as much.

In areas where there are many sick dogs, consider staying away from dog parks. Some doggy daycare facilities have closed their doors as a precaution, others remain open, but you may want to consider leaving Fido at home. Dog training classes are important, but definitely talk with the instructor. Depending of how much virus is going around near you, waiting until the next session begins might be a plan, and the same is true for dogs participating in organized canine sports and activities.

Canine Flu:
One local veterinarian says there's been an increase in suspected cases of canine influenza, although there is a vaccine you can get for your pet.

Buster, a 9-year-old boxer mix, is in isolation at a Lakeview animal hospital. Ollie, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix, is headed in the same direction.

Both dogs have been diagnosed with pneumonia, a symptom of canine influenza.

"There has been a massive outbreak of infectious respiratory disease in the city of Chicago and suburbs," said Dr. Natalie Marks, Blum Animal Hospital.

Dr. Marks says Blum Animal Hospital has seen between five and 15 cases a day.

Waiting for test results to confirm the diagnosis, Dr. Marks and other area vets suspect the dogs have the flu. The Chicago area hasn't seen such an outbreak since 2008. Dr. Marks says canine influenza symptoms are more severe and dangerous than kennel cough.

"Dogs with influenza sick very quickly, one to three days, very lethargic, high fever, pneumonia, high-risk," Marks said.

Dogs at the highest risk are those exposed to other dogs, pets at dog parks or dog care.

Elizabeth Estes believes her dog Ollie picked it up at his doggie day care. Estes brought Ollie to the animal hospital Wednesday morning after he became sick overnight.

"Yesterday, he was running around, then all of sudden, boom, cough, rough night, no sleep," Estes said.

Because canine influenza is highly contagious with other dogs, vets recommend a flu shot; yes, they make one for dogs.

"I'll definitely get him a flu shot the next time, this is awful to watch your dog feel this way and not be able to breath," Estes said.

To control the outbreak, Marks strongly encourages every dog owner to talk to their vet about getting the vaccine.

Just like a human flu shot, it cannot be given to dogs who are already sick. Vets say the risks of the vaccine are minor, but the benefits can be major in preventing the spread of the virus.


The Kennel Cough story was reported here: http://www.chicagonow.com/steve-dales-pet-world/2015/03/chicago-dogs-getting-sick/

The Canine Flu story can be read here:  http://abc7chicago.com/pets/dog-flu-cases-on-the-rise-in-chicago-area/573127/

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