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Merck Animal Health Inaugurates Dog Flu Prevention Week
USAgNet - 04/19/2018

Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada) inaugurated Dog Flu Prevention Week (April 16-22), an annual reminder to pet parents to protect their social dogs, either for the first time or for revaccination, from this highly contagious illness. Thousands of cases of dog flu have been confirmed across the country in the last year, and the Dog Flu Prevention Week is being launched to recognize the anniversary of the discovery of the newest strain -- H3N2 -- which has been responsible for most of these cases. Dog Flu Prevention Week will be held during the third week of April annually, kicking off the discussion around vaccine-preventable diseases in conjunction with World Animal Vaccination Day (April 20).

Dog flu is a year-round illness that can spread very easily, especially among social dogs. Unlike human flu, dog flu is not seasonal and can be contagious year-round. Common symptoms of dog flu include high fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, cough, runny nose and, in some cases, pneumonia -- which can be life-threatening. A dog can be infected for several days before any symptoms are present, and symptoms can last for several weeks in many cases. Infected dogs can also remain contagious for almost one month. Since dogs have no natural immunity against dog flu, almost all unvaccinated dogs that come in contact with the virus will become sick. Pet parents can find more information, including outbreak maps, at www.dogflu.com.

"All dogs that are social and interact with other dogs are at risk for dog flu, but the good news is that dog flu is vaccine preventable," said Kathryn Primm, DVM, co-author of the Pet Parent's Guide to Infectious Disease of Dogs. "Dogs can be protected against both strains of dog flu with a single vaccine, which is given as two doses, two to four weeks apart."

Social dogs that are frequently in contact with other dogs at places like dog parks, doggie daycares, grooming facilities and boarding kennels are at an increased risk of dog flu and should be vaccinated on an annual basis to prevent illness or decrease the severity of symptoms if they do become sick.

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