MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Fears surrounding a possible dog flu outbreak have some pet owners in the Grand Strand concerned.
However, one Myrtle Beach veterinarian said there is no reason to panic, but pet owners should take precaution.
Dr. Isabelle Ying, a veterinarian at Myrtle Beach Animal Hospital, said the highly contagious virus is popping up in areas like Charleston and North Carolina.
"Because it's so contagious and it's popping up in areas around Myrtle Beach, people are starting to get wind of that through social media and getting very concerned," Ying said. "We want to get the word out to people, to let them know that it is a virus that you should be concerned about but should not panic about."
According to Ying, there are no reported cases in Myrtle Beach, but she advises pet owners to take precautions to prevent the disease from spreading.
"It's an upper respiratory virus, kind of like the human flu virus, where they are presented with coughing, sneezing, running noses. They can also get very high fevers and in very severe cases can end up with pneumonia as well. Transmission can occur through shared toys, water bowls, and even you can have the virus on your clothing."
Even after a dog has contracted the virus, it still can remain contagious up to 30 after.
"There are dogs that may appear healthy at the dog park, but could still be contagious," Ying said. "About 20 percent of dogs get the virus without getting sick."
Symptoms of dog flu include:
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
Ying said it is generally between two to four days before a dog will start showing symptoms, and they are most contagious between days seven to 10.
She added it is important to contact a doctor immediately if a dog starts showing symptoms, and take precautions before bringing it into the animal doctor office or hospital, in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading to other animals.
Ying added there are two strains of the canine flu virus, and she said the best way to prevent the virus from spreading is vaccination.
"You want to make sure the vaccine that you're getting covers both strains," Ying said. "Be vigilant about washing your hands and making sure you're not spreading the virus as much as possible."
Young, old, sick and even pregnant pets are more susceptible to the virus. Ying said nose-to-nose contact, or if an infected dog sneezes or coughs into the air, are just a few ways the virus can be transmitted.
Ying said there are no reported cases of dogs transmitting the virus to humans, but added one strain of dog flu can be transmitted to cats.