Canine Flu is No Walk in the Dog Park — but it’s Really Cheap to Prevent

dog flu
Dr. Jen Coyle, a veterinarian, examines Molly, the dog, at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

How’s Fido feeling?

While you can usually tell if your furry friend is feeling icky, you might want to pay closer attention in the coming days.

An outbreak of the dog flu has hit Florida this week, putting furry friends at risk all over the state.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Dog Flu is No Walk in the Dog Park

The University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine released a statement May 31 explaining the dog flu epidemic in detail.

At least a dozen dogs in Florida have been infected so far. These dogs were either present at the Perry, Georgia dog show May 19-21 or the Deland, Florida dog show the following weekend.

The infection has also spread to dogs that have been in contact with those at the shows.

The infected dogs tested positive for the H3N2 strain of canine influenza, which is the same strain responsible for the 2015 outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago, as reported by UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Symptoms of the virus include sneezing, nasal discharge and coughing.

The statement also says there is no evidence this strain of the dog flu can infect humans.

How to Prevent the Dog Flu and Save Money if Fido Catches it

Just like the human flu, there is no actual treatment for the dog flu.

However, there are medications a vet can prescribe to help your dog feel better while fighting it. Vets may also prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce fever and fight secondary infections that may occur.

There is good news, though: The dog flu can be prevented.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is a vaccine available to prevent the H3N2 canine influenza. This can cost $25 to $35 depending on where you take your pet, as reported by the New York Times.

If you’re searching for a cheaper alternative to a regular vet, The Balance suggests heading to a nearby veterinary college, saying they “offer a sizable discount over what the local vet clinics and animal hospitals charge.”

Not sure if you want to vaccinate your dog? The AVMA also says “good animal care practice and nutrition” in dogs can help build a healthy immune system. That means keeping your dog healthy with a balanced nutrition can help him or her fight off the virus on their own. (Here are our favorite pet loyalty programs for saving on everyday pet costs!)

The big costs associated with dog flu come if your dog needs to be hospitalized. Fortunately, this is only necessary if your dog become extremely dehydrated or develops further complications.

If you don’t have the money to pay upfront, you still have options.

One of those options is to apply for CareCredit, a credit card that specializes in health care financing. Depending on your credit score, you could be eligible for interest-free, short-term financing.

As with every credit card, be sure to understand the risks associated with opening a new line of credit, such as the possibility of credit inquiries affecting your credit score, and the danger of keeping high balances on cards with high interest rates.

Last but not least: If your fur baby should catch the flu, don’t panic. The AVMA reports the fatality rate is less than 10%, and most pups recover in two to three weeks.

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.