A dog's cold, wet nose becoming a runny nose may be a cue to Fairfax County residents to get to an animal hospital for treatment of a potentially fatal canine disease.
County veterinarians say cases of canine influenza - a respiratory disease spread between dogs only, and not humans - have already been reported locally.
An outbreak of canine influenza prompted the Fairfax County Animal Shelter to stop accepting dogs earlier this summer after one dog died of the virus.
A total of 12 dogs were treated for the virus. The shelter was able to resume intakes in late July.
In addition to a runny noses, other signs of the disease are coughing, sneezing and a fever.
Sully Animal Hospital in Centreville is offering free influenza exams to new patients to slow the spread of the disease.
Hospital staff said they recently sent a letter to all their patients, warning them of the local canine influenza outbreak.
The best way to prevent canine influenza is by vaccinating dogs who aren't infected, hospital staff said. There is a specific shot for canine influenza; the bordetella (kennel cough) and distemper vaccines won't prevent canine influenza, doctors said.
The vaccine is initially administered in two doses given several weeks apart. After that, a booster shot should be given annually to prevent infection, doctors said.
Flu vaccinations are available at Sully Animal Hospital for $24.
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