On May 30, the Florida Department of Agriculture along with the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine confirmed the first seven cases of the H2N3 dog flu in Florida. Since that time, five more dogs in Florida have confirmed cases of the dog flu bring the total to 12 dogs. Here's what pet sitters, dog walkers, and pet groomers should know.
The dog flu has been around since 2015 and infected many dogs throughout most of the United States. H3N2 is very contagious and there is a strain of the disease that may even transfer the illness to cats. However, the dog flu is rarely fatal and is not known to affect humans.
What Causes H3N2 Dog Flu
According to the University of Florida, the primary way that dogs are being infected is through other dogs. In fact, infected dogs can spread the illness within a 20-foot radius. Additionally, the virus can survive in food bowls, water bowls, pet toys, and even humans who have interacted with a sick dog for up to 24 hours.
The good news is that the virus doesn't stand a chance against soap and water, so be sure to wash everything the pet uses as well as your hands.
What Are the Symptoms?
As a pet sitter, dog walker, or groomer, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Coughing & Sneezing
- Decreased Appetite
These symptoms may appear in any dog regardless of the breed. However, dogs that don't go to kennels, shows, vet clinics, or daycares will be at much lower risk.
What to Do if You Suspect the Flu
As a pet care provider, the first thing you will want to do is notify the dog owner that their pet may be getting sick. However, neither you, nor the pet owner should take the pet immediately to a veterinary clinic in order to prevent other dogs from becoming sick.
If you suspect dog flu, call the pet's veterinarian and tell them what the dog's symptoms are and when they started. It may also be helpful to tell them if the dog has been at a kennel or daycare recently. The vet will then be able coordinate with you to set up an appointment.
Most of the time dogs can recover in the comfort of their home. The flu should only last about 2 weeks, but the dog can remain infectious for up to a month, so they should be kept away from other dogs during that time.
According to the University of Florida, about 20 percent of dogs will develop pneumonia. If you suspect that the dog is getting sicker, be sure to contact the vet right away.
How Insurance Helps You Help Dogs
As someone who takes care of dogs on a daily basis, you may want to consider purchasing a pet care insurance policy. If a dog were to get sick or injured while in your care, custody, or control, you may be held legally and financially responsible for that pet, even if you are not directly at fault.
Pet Care Insurance (PCI) can offer you the protection that your pet care business needs. Our basic policy includes animal bailee—often called care, custody, or control—veterinary expense reimbursement, and general liability coverage. Visit our coverage details page to learn more.