Allergies and heartworms threaten dogs in the Chattahoochee Vall - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Allergies and heartworms threaten dogs in the Chattahoochee Valley

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A canine flu has claimed the lives of at least five furry friends in northern parts of the US and has infected more than a thousand other dogs.

Vets say the epidemic hasn't reached the Chattahoochee Valley yet but the canine flu is wreaking havoc for dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana right now.

The illness causes fever, a runny snout and excessive coughing, but so far it hasn't caused any problems for dogs in our area.

"Remember dogs are as mobile as people are nowadays,"said Donna Alexander with the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control in Chicago, Ill.

While animal control experts in Chicago work to treat sniffling and achy pups, some veterinarians in Columbus say they are requiring a preventative vaccine for the furry patients they treat.

"A lot of that is because we took a cue from some of the clinics in a more northerly area. There is a vaccine available for it, and the best protection is prevention," said Dr. Hank Hall at the Northside Animal Hospital.

That doesn't mean dogs in our area are in the clear, especially as warm weather settles in and an influx of pests emerge.

"Spring and summer is a big time for us in the animal world because the mosquitoes come out, the fleas come out," said Hall.

With bugs comes an increased need for heartworm medicine, and as April marks national Heartworm Prevention Month, vets at Northside Animal Hospital amp up preventive measures.

"A young dog can be put on heartworm prevention as early as six to eight weeks," explained Hall.

In addition to the threat of potentially deadly heart worms, man's best friend is also susceptible to spring time allergies.

"The animals suffer from pollen as well, it makes them rub their eyes, sneeze maybe, cold, excess phlegm and mucus, a lot of coughing that are directly related to allergies," said Hall.

There are a variety of medicines available for both heart worms and allergies. A typical six-month supply for heart worm prevention can run between $30 and $60.

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