Local vet clinic has handled about a dozen cases of suspected canine flu

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MAUMEE, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Local vets are having to make changes to deal with an outbreak of canine influenza. A relatively new strain of the virus has hit the region.

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Doggy daycares and kennels are also warning clients about the virus, and many are recommending or even requiring owners get their dogs a flu shot.

There have been dozens of suspected cases of canine influenza around the region in recent days.

Like a lot of clinics and facilities that work with dogs, Anthony Wayne Animal Hospital in Maumee is taking extra steps to help prevent the spread of the virus, "Every day we're seeing more and more cases of it, but we have a lot of measures that were immediately put in place to help prevent the spread of the virus."

In addition to the suspected cases, a lot of calls about the canine flu have also been coming in.

The vets at Anthony Wayne will go to the car to see a patient if necessary, but they also have a room just for potential flu cases that is close to the entrance.

A staff member accompanies the owner and the pet right into the room and the area they walk through to get to the room is immediately cleaned,"We're being very careful about keeping the pets with a potential case of the flu away from all the other pets."

Dr. Steve Reece says there are extra cleaning protocols in place."Everybody is cleaning as the dog exits the room. The entire lobby is mopped and cleaned and any surfaces the dog would have come in contact with before and after the visit.There is also a foot bath with bleach that we have everyone step in so they are not tracking anything through the hospital."

Laura Reece says in the 11 years of owning the clinic, they have never dealt with anything like this, "At night, in addition to our regular cleaning protocol, we are bleaching the entire hospital as well."

Dr. Reece says one strain of the virus has been around for a number of years, but a new strain has arrived in the region, and the virus is easily spread, "It is highly contagious just like human flu virus. It is respiratory and once it is in the air, all a dog has to do is breath it in."

Dr. Reece says the symptoms are similar to kennel cough. However, dogs with the flu will also sneeze, have a runny nose and eyes and may lose their appetite.

He recommends you vaccinate your dog especially if it comes in contact with other dogs on a walk, at the dog park, a doggy daycare or boarding kennel or the groomer, "Most of the cases by the time you try to isolate it with a swab most dogs are already not even shedding the virus. A few cases have been fatal, but that is very rare. Most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks."

So if your dog gets the flu, how is it treated?, "We would give anti-biotics for any secondary infection, but given the fact that it is a virus there is nothing specific to give for that. We would just treat the symptoms."

If your dog is showing any symptoms of the flu, call your vet immediately or get it to an emergency clinic. Make sure to tell them you suspect your dog has the flu before taking it into the clinic, because each vet may handle things differently.

Pups Paradise in Sylvania and Perrysburg temporarily closed to deep clean the facility. Both locations will reopen Friday. Owners say all dogs must be vaccinated for the flu and wait at least three weeks after that second booster to return.

We've posted a link with the answers to frequently asked questions about canine influenza.