Canine influenza outbreak: Best practices for keeping your pet healthy when boarding this holiday season in Chattanooga – Chattanooga Times Free Press


Making arrangements for your pets to stay safe and warm while you’re on holiday vacation is no easy task; you’re thinking about the cost of care, location and which of your pup’s favorite treats to pack.

This year, winter festivities may bring another concern for cautious pet parents.

Chattanooga-area animal hospitals have seen an increase in canine respiratory illness, and if you have a furry friend, you may be wondering about the best way to keep them safe during the holiday season.

Here are important need-to-knows as you consider boarding your pet at a local facility.

Vaccinate your pup

Canine influenza, also known as K9 flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. The most common strains of the virus, H3N8 and H3N2, are known to cause disease in mainly dogs, with a few rare cases found in cats.

Symptoms typically appear two to four days after exposure and can include sneezing, coughing, runny eyes or nose, decreased appetite and fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heather Frost, owner of the BarkMore Pet Hotel & Daycare on Shallowford Road, says that her establishment has implemented a strict vaccination policy for clients.

“We have been working hard to prevent an outbreak of this virus by sanitizing three times a day, requiring all of the standard vaccines such as Bordetella plus, of course , the canine flu vaccine, ” she says.

It is best to talk with your veterinarian for information on the canine influenza vaccine, which is a two-dose vaccine that is administered two weeks apart. Dr . Chelsea Garwood, veterinarian at Easyvet of Greater Chattanooga, recommends having your pet vaccinated and eligible to receive the second booster shot two in order to four weeks before boarding.

Some manufacturers currently have the vaccine on backorder due to high demand, meaning some veterinary facilities may not have it in stock, Garwood states. It is recommended that you check with your local veterinarian facilities for availability of the canine flu shot several weeks prior to your travel plans.

Pets can social distance, too

Canine influenza spreads through close contact between dogs or even shared objects. The virus can spread through sneezing, coughing, shared water bowls or human hands and clothing that have not been sanitized, says Garwood.

The strategy of social distancing, which helped mitigate the influx associated with coronavirus cases during the pandemic, can be used to prevent your pets from catching the canine flu.

Try to avoid dog parks and other public parks if they are heavily populated with pets. The same can be applied to pet stores and grooming services.

Frost recommends pet owners who are boarding with the BarkMore to avoid populated areas before boarding. She also recommends washing plus sanitizing your hands or clothing if you believe you have come in contact with an infected dog.

Feeling apprehensive about boarding?

Find out as much information beforehand about the boarding facility that you are interested in booking along with. Call for a consultation, or request a tour of where your pet will be staying.

Make sure the facility is clean, and that all precautions are being taken to sanitize and properly care for the residing pets.

But if you’re still unsure about boarding during the outbreak, an alternative is finding an at-home pet sitter. There are several popular pet-sitting apps such as Rover and Fetch! Pet Care that offer customized pet-care service options with experienced workers.

In comparison

— The average cost to board your dog at a facility in the Chattanooga area is $35 a night. *This value was taken from the total cost of eight Chattanooga-area boarding facilities.

— The average cost to hire a pet sitter though popular dog boarding apps such as Rover or Fetch! Pet Care is $63 a night.   *This value was taken from the total cost of four popular pet-sitting apps.


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