This Year’s Horrible Flu Season Also Affects Dogs

A particularly nasty canine flu is sweeping through the South Bay, but it hasn't hit San Francisco — yet.

This year’s flu season totally sucks. (Photo: Nuala Sawyer)

If you haven’t caught the flu yet count your blessings, because it seriously sucks this year. It hit early, and the Department of Public Health reports that it’s extra severe, with 10 people having died from the illness by mid-December. And as an added curse, the flu vaccine — which itself can often leave people feeling under the weather for a couple days — is only 10 percent effective against the rampant virus this season.

To make things worse, veterinary clinics in the South Bay reported this week that multiple cases of Canine Influenza Virus H3N2 (CIV) have been diagnosed. Symptoms are similar to what humans experience — coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, loss of appetite, and a fever. In extreme cases, the flu may progress to pneumonia. Dog owners who spot these symptoms are encouraged to take their pups to the vet immediately, and quarantine their dog from other canines for 30 days — a really difficult feat in San Francisco, where many people don’t have backyards.

In response, many South Bay dog daycares have shut down, and veterinary clinics are being extra vigilant in preventing the spread. Luckily, it hasn’t reached S.F… yet. 

“We haven’t had any canine flu cases at either of our SF SPCA hospitals and haven’t yet heard of any cases in San Francisco,” says Krista Maloney, from the SF SPCA. “But it’s very contagious and could easily spread.” 

Luckily there is a canine flu vaccine that can help prevent the flu, which Maloney recommends for dogs who spend time in day cares, dog parks, boarding facilities, or dog walker packs. The SF SPCA is offering it at its veterinary clinic for $39. 

In the meantime, keep an eye on your pup — and if you regularly take them to and from the South Bay, be extra vigilant about not passing on the virus. 

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