7 Facts to Know About the Dog Flu
What is canine influenza?Also known as canine influenza virus (CIV) or the dog flu, canine influenza is a respiratory disease that affects dogs. There are two strands of the dog flu: H3N8 and H3N2. The latter strand is what is currently infecting canines across the United States. While most cases have occurred in the Chicago area, confirmed cases have also been reported in Georgia, Wisconsin, Iowa, and at least one dog in the Houston, TX area has tested positive.
What are the symptoms of the dog flu?Canine influenza symptoms are similar to those of kennel cough. If your dog experiences any of the following, have your vet check him/her out:
- Variable fever
- Clear nasal discharge that progresses into thick, green mucus
- Rapid or difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
How do dogs get the flu?
The dog flu is spread through coughs, sneezes or direct contact of respiratory secretions of an infected dog. Contact with clothing, equipment, surfaces and human hands that have interacted with an infected dog can also carry the disease, although the virus survives longer in the air than it does on these surfaces.
Can all dogs get the flu virus?Yes, all dogs are susceptible to the dog flu virus. However, dogs that spend extended time in the shelter or at a boarding facility, doggy daycare, or dog park face an increased risk of contracting the disease simply due to consistent, close contact with other dogs.
Is canine influenza passed between dogs and humans?According to the CDC, there is no evidence that canine influenza can be passed from dogs to humans.
How is canine influenza treated?Similar to the flu that us humans suffer from, there is no ‘cure’ for the dog flu. That being said, a veterinarian can treat the symptoms using supportive care to help the infected dog mount an immune response. In this case, a vet may prescribe one of the following to put your pup at ease while the illness runs its course:
- Good nutrition and supplements to help raise immunity
- A warm, quiet and comfortable place to rest
- Medications to treat any secondary infections
- Intravenous fluids to protect from dehydration
- Workup and treatment for pneumonia, if applicable
How can I protect my dog?There is an approved vaccination for one strand of canine influenza, but it is unknown if this vaccine will protect against all strands. Talk with your veterinarian to determine if this is the right choice for you and your dog. Whether or not you decide on a vaccination, there are other preventative measures you can take:
- Be vigilant when on walks or at the dog park to ensure your pet does not interact with one you suspect might be infected.
- Keep close watch for symptoms listed above and hold on to medical or boarding records.
- Examine your pet’s diet to ensure optimal nutrition, as this may help ward off the disease in the first place.