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Dog owners in the Midwestern United States will have more to worry about this summer than flea and tick problems. As the canine influenza virus (CIV) continues to rapidly spread throughout Chicago and its suburbs, pet parents are looking to take precautions to protect their dogs from the potentially fatal illness.

The canine influenza virus is one of the most viral causes of kennel cough. It is a highly contagious respiratory disease that has already afflicted thousands of dogs in the United States; however, since it is a relatively new virus most dogs have not been exposed to it before, making it difficult for their immune systems to fight. There is a vaccine against the canine influenza virus, but it takes 30 days to take effect. With the virus spreading so quickly in Chicago, those who live outside the area should consider getting their dogs vaccinated before it spreads to their area. Veterinary clinics inside the Chicago area are already reporting shortages of the vaccine.

The illness has already spread to areas of Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other parts of Illinois due to its own very contagious nature. The virus can live on surface areas for up to 48 hours and dogs can spread canine influenza even before they present symptoms. Due to the increasingly warm weather, dog parks and other recreational areas have become a hotspot for the virus. Chicago has already advised the social pet owners keep their dogs at home and avoid using dog daycares, boarding houses, dog parks and taking them to pet stores. The city has also recommended that pet owners avoid going to the vet unless they have contracted the disease or have another emergency.

According to the ASPCA, symptoms of the Canine Influenza Virus include:

  • Coughing

  • Sneezing

  • Variable Fever

  • Nasal Discharge

  • Rapid or Difficulty Breathing

  • Loss of Appetite

  • Lethargy

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