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Dog flu on the rise on the Central Coast - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Dog flu on the rise on the Central Coast

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More than 20 people on the Central Coast have died in what health officials call the worst flu season they've ever seen. A similar influenza crisis is now affecting local dogs.

Officials say there are 300 dog influenza cases in California and four diagnosed cases in San Luis Obispo County.

Veterinarian Michael Ramos says his clinic is seeing an increase of dogs with a high fever.

"We are concerned that it's going to become more common within the next coming months," said Dr. Ramos said of dog influenza.

That's why Sarah Retledge brought in her French Bulldog, Brodie, to get vaccinated. Brodie is more susceptible than other dogs.

"He has an immune suppressed system, he's on life-long medication, so it's important that he be protected," said Retledge. "He's our little man, so we will do anything we can to protect him and keep him happy and healthy."

Typically, Dr. Ramos says dogs get the virus from other dogs. It can also happen indirectly.

"Humans can't become infected from the virus, but they can carry it on them and give it to their dog who can then become sick," said Dr. Ramos.

Symptoms mirror human influenza.

"You may see coughing, sneezing, discharge from the eyes or nose, and certainly lethargy and decreased appetite," said Dr. Ramos.

The virus could be deadly, though that's rare.

"In a few cases, the influenza virus can progress to pneumonia, and that's life-threatening," said Dr. Ramos.

For prevention, Dr. Ramos suggests talking to your veterinarian about the bivalent flu vaccine. To be fully covered for one year, Dr. Ramos says you'll need to get two boosters about two to four weeks apart.

The virus has the capability of jumping to other species, Dr. Ramos says, but that's also rare.

The El Camino Veterinary Hospital in Atascadero holds reduced cost vaccination clinics for walk-in patients on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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