Fido Flu Outbreak Hits Massachusetts

A cluster of dog flu cases has been reported in Massachusetts. Credit: Getty Images.

Vets in Essex County, Massachusetts, are telling some of their patients to take two Milk Bones and call me in the morning. The state's Division of Animal Health has reported a rare outbreak of dog flu in the area.

"Right now it's just a few cases of canine influenza but we're alerting owners to talk to their veterinarians, especially if their pet stays in kennels or doggie daycare or is otherwise prone to illness," said Krista Selmi, the agency's spokeswoman.

Canine flu symptoms are a lot like human symptoms and include fever, cough, nasal discharge and lack of energy. They last for about two weeks until the virus runs its course. And like their owners, pets need lots of rest and plenty of fluids to recover, Selmi said, adding that vets will sometimes prescribe an antibiotic to help address secondary bacterial infections that can plague sick pups.

A canine flu shot exists but vets say not all dogs need it. The two-shot vaccination may not ward off the illness altogether, but can reduce its length and severity. Animals need a booster shot every year for full protection, Selmi said.

Thankfully, canine flu is rarely fatal. If you're concerned about your furry friend catching a case, consult with your veterinarian, Selmi said.