The canine flu breakout that was first reported in the southern U.S. in Florida is spreading.  There are now two confirmed cases in Louisiana.  Other southern states that are reporting the occurrence of the infection are Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee.

The culprit is a newly evolved strain of the canine flu virus called H3N2 that is spreading through the south from its initial appearance at dog shows in Perry, Ga., and DeLand, Fla.  Officials in other state are taking precautions; the Kennel Club of Texarkana, AR, canceled its yearly dog show in an attempt to guard against the eventuality of the flu spreading at its event.

When a dog catches the flu the symptoms are similar to those in humans: sneezing, nasal discharge, and a cough that can last for a period of at least two weeks. The illness is seldom fatal and then usually only in puppies and very old dogs.  If not treated, it could lead to pneumonia, so take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms. Treatment may include a prescription antibiotic, and an anti-inflammatory to reduce fever, swelling, and pain.  Fluid therapy may be required for extreme dehydration.

Above all, infected dogs must be isolated.  Canine flu is extremely contagious and that's why its presence has now been confirmed in 30 states across the country.

The good news is there are steps you can take to lower the chances of your dog catching the flu.  First and foremost have your dog vaccinated. The H3N2 CIV vaccine doesn't prevent dogs from contracting canine influenza, but it does help reduce their chances of catching the virus and can reduce the severity of symptoms and risk of complications if they do get it.  The virus is easily killed by most disinfectants, so laundering your dog's bedding, along with washing its toys and food bowls can help.