Canine influenza cases decline, Board of Animal Health loosens guidelines

Following an outbreak of canine influenza in April, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health has begun loosening its guidelines surrounding dog parks, daycare centers and other gatherings as cases have since begun to decline.

On April 6, the Board announced the canine influenza outbreak affecting dogs sickened at shelters in Anoka, Hennepin and Washington counties.

The Board has since confirmed 106 cases of canine influenza across 10 counties following the start of the outbreak.

However, case counts slowed through July, with only one reported since the middle of July.

"Be smart and be safe, and you should definitely feel comfortable taking your pup out to play with other dogs," said Dr. Veronica Bartsch, senior veterinarian in charge of companion animals, in a statement.

The Board still recommends keeping sick dogs isolated for 30 days, avoiding contact with those showing respiratory illness, washing your hands frequently before contact with others, and contacting a veterinarian with any concerns.

"Be smart by keeping your distance from dogs that appear sick," Bartsch said in the statement.

In addition to canine influenza, the Board warns pet owners to keep an eye out for harmful algal blooms when playing with dogs in open water in the summer.

In May, the Animal Humane Society’s Walk for Animals canceled canine participation due to concerns about canine influenza, which prompted a change from organizers at the state fairgrounds.