Dog flu hits Bryan County; vets warn about risks

WHITEMARSH ISLAND, Ga. – It’s now been confirmed that one Richmond Hill dog contracted the contagious canine influenza virus from a dog show last month in Perry, Ga. Now, local doctors are trying to keep your dog from contracting the virus.

“What we’re trying to do right now is to educate people so we can prevent it from becoming a problem here,” Dr. Kari Jenkins, the veterinarian medical director at Savannah, Whitemarsh Island and Tybee Island Animal Care, said.

The recent increase of the canine influenza has had many people on alert in the Peach State.

“If you’re traveling with your pet at rest stops you want to avoid contact with other animals because they’re coming from all over the country,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins is talking about places like New York and Chicago where the flu is more common. And it’s not just for dogs that are traveling or show dogs, but for those here at home, too.

“It’s not a common virus here, but it is starting to show up more and more, especially with us being in show season and a lot of animals doing a lot of traveling both for shows and vacations,” Jenkins said.

The Hostess City welcomes people and pets from all over the world. They visit places like Downtown, Forsyth Park and even the Daffin dog park.

Vets said you should check with your doctor if your pet may be at risk, especially those whose pets already have medical issues.

“Pets that have predisposing conditions like asthma, collapsing trachea, heart conditions or anything else that impairs a respiratory tract are going to be more predisposed of getting even sicker from this virus just because they already have inflammation in their respiratory tracts,” Jenkins said.

If you see signs in your dog or others like coughing, nose or eye discharge and depression they should get checked out and stay away from other dogs.

“It presents a lot like what most people understand as kennel cough, but it tends to run a little bit different of a course,” Jenkins said. “They tend to run a little bit more of a fever and they’re a little bit more predisposed of developing pneumonia as a secondary side effect to it although not all influenza cases develop pneumonia.”

There is a vaccination available at places like Whitemarsh Animal Care. Again, doctors said you should refer to your vet first.

The American Kennel Club has postponed a few shows because of the virus circling around the states.

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