Recommendations for Your Business

What Every Pet Sitter and Dog Walker Should Know About Dog Flu

According to IBISWorld's Market Research Report, the dog walking industry has steadily grown from 2011 to 2016, with industry revenue at an estimated annualized rate of $900.8 million.

More and more pet owners across the US are utilizing the services of dog walkers or pet sitters for their dogs for vacation travel and on a daily basis. These pet professionals can be very busy, often visiting several dogs a day. Some dog walkers will even walk multiple unrelated dogs at the same time. Because most dogs enjoy the company of other canines, direct and indirect contact between dogs can lead to the spread of infectious diseases like Dog Flu. Pet sitters and dog walkers should be aware of the dangers of infectious diseases and how they can help keep their client’s pets healthy.

Dog Flu, also referred to as canine influenza (CIV), is an important infectious respiratory disease for socially active dogs, and dogs visited by pet sitters or dog walkers. The newest form of Dog Flu, H3N2, was first found in the US in the spring of 2015. Since that time, it has spread to over half the country. H3N2 Dog Flu is considered extremely contagious. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, dogs infected with Dog Flu can spread the disease for over 24 days. Dog Flu is infectious and can spread through direct dog-to-dog contact like dog kisses, or indirect contact like shared water bowls, toys, leashes or handling of sick pets.

Cats can also become infected. In fact, a shelter in Indiana found that cats in their facility that did not have direct contact with sick dogs became infected with canine influenza. These cats most likely became infected by being handled by shelter staff that did not appropriately disinfect themselves after treating sick dogs.

While most dogs that develop CIV infection will have a mild illness, some dogs can become very sick and require veterinary treatment. Fortunately, there are vaccinations available to help prevent Dog Flu. Vaccinations for Dog Flu require an initial vaccination and a booster 2-4 weeks later. After that, only an annual vaccination is needed.

Five Tips to Prevent the Spread of Dog Flu

1.

Require Dog Flu vaccines for your clients.

2.

If dogs are not vaccinated, walk them individually and avoid contact with other dogs.

3.

Sanitize hands, clothing and equipment between dogs—even if they don’t seem sick.

4.

Dog Flu can also be spread on clothing and shoes. Use protective covering and practice good sanitation, especially when tending to sick animals.

5.

Visit sick animals last and don’t expose them to other pets. Sanitize thoroughly after tending sick pets.