A highly contagious strain of dog flu has popped up in Nevada.
Experts say it’s only a matter of time before we could see an outbreak here in Las Vegas. Some spots around town are already taking preventative measures.
The Animal Foundation is taking precautions and is recommending every pet owner do the same.
Dr. Ken Sieranski, the chief veterinarian at the Animal Foundation said symptoms of dog flu include, “coughing, nasal discharge, sneezing, respiratory signs.” He added, “It is a concern enough based on what the labs are telling us about the increase incidence of the virus here in Nevada.”
The Animal Foundation is taking a pre-emptive strike and vaccinating all dogs taken into the shelter.
Sieranski said one concern is how easily it spreads. He said, “For about 12 to 24 hours it can stay on your clothes, it can be on your hands, it can go on objects.”
That means if you interact with a sick dog, you can take it home to your dog. Perhaps more concerning, a dog can be contagious before showing symptoms and 4 weeks afterward.
“Dog parks, kennels, really any interaction with a dog,” is a primary concern Sieranski said.
That’s why Cathy Brooks isn’t taking any chances. She owns the Hydrant Club in Downtown Las Vegas. Two years ago she began requiring the canine influenza vaccine for her clients.
“We have a super strict health protocol. Before a dog’s even allowed to enter for its behavioral evaluation we require copies of all the dog’s health records,” she said.
That’s because one sick dog can infect them all.
“If a dog were to get sick on my watch for something I could have prevented, I wouldn’t be able to stand it,” Brooks said.
And, just like humans, the more who are vaccinated, the better for everyone. “A herd immunity or population level immunity,” said Sieranski.
The Animal Foundation is offering the vaccine for just $20. It’s one shot, followed by a booster two weeks later. Vaccines are on a first-come-first-served basis. The Animal Shelter’s vaccine clinic is open 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. No appointments are necessary.