Birmingham veterinarian warning of highly contagious dog flu outbreak

Birmingham vet is warning dog owners about highly contagious canine illness.
Birmingham vet is warning dog owners about highly contagious canine illness.(WBRC)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 9:34 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 10:09 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hundreds of Birmingham-area dogs are becoming sick with a highly contagious illness called canine influenza.

It’s so contagious, a Birmingham veterinarian is encouraging pet owners to keep their dogs at home if at all possible.

“It spreads like wildfire,” said Dr. Nicole Martin at Caldwell Mill Animal Clinic. “What we have been seeing the most of is canine influenza which is something we haven’t really seen a whole lot around here so it’s a scary thing.”

Dr. Martin says the illness is so contagious it can spread from 20 feet away. She says if a dog with the flu coughs and is within 20 feet of another dog, the second dog can get sick.

She says the signs include coughing, nasal discharge, and difficulty breathing. While the illness can start out mild, it can get worse.

“Like COVID in people, it can develop into a pneumonia and the pneumonia is what can become fatal,” said the veterinarian.

Dr. Martin says the clinic has gone curbside to help slow the spread. She adds they have also shut down their grooming and daycare facilities.

Now, she is encouraging owners to get their dog vaccinated.

“It needs two shots so you’ll come in, you’ll get one shot and then you’ll come in two to four weeks later and get the second one,” said Dr. Martin. “Then about two weeks after that, they’ll be boosted.”

Dr. Martin says vaccinated dogs can still get the canine flu but the shots help the sickness from becoming fatal.

“Don’t go to dog parks right now,” she urged. “Don’t go to grooming or boarding or anywhere that you don’t have to because the odds are right now in Birmingham that if you go to any of those places, your dog will leave with this.”

If you notice coughing or difficulty breathing in your dog, Dr. Martin says to contact your local vet immediately.

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