Can dogs get the flu? The answer is yes! When it comes to canine influenza or the dog flu, it is important that you are always prepared to take care of your sick puppy. Most cases of canine influenza are not fatal, however, canine influenza can make your furry friend uncomfortable and sick; which not only causes your canine companion a lot of stress but also you as well.
Causes Of Canine Influenza Virus
Canine influenza is caused by a variety of influenza A viruses and is a respiratory illness; including equine influenza H3N8, this disease was originally discovered in dogs in 2004. Due to the relatively new nature of the virus in dogs, dogs have no natural immunity to the virus. Therefore, this disease spreads very quickly between dogs and can quickly infect all of the animals within your household very quickly. The two causative strains of canine influenza are classified as the H3N8 virus and the H3N2 virus. While both strains cause symptoms, they rarely lead to the death of your furry friend.
In 2005, there was a large outbreak of canine influenza across the United States, leading to large-scale infections in multiple states. Today, however, the virus is largely contained in certain regions of the United States. The three areas that are now considered endemic for CIV due to continuous high case counts are New York, southern Florida, and northern Colorado. If you live in one of these areas with a dog, you need to take extra steps to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy.
Canine Influenza Symptoms
Almost 80 percent of dogs that are infected with canine influenza show symptoms that are mild. However, the fatality rate for this respiratory disease is very low, with less than one percent of all cases ending in death. Symptoms of the mild form of canine influenza typically include a cough that lasts about 10 to 30 days. In addition, you may notice that your dog has a greenish color nasal discharge.
If your dog is suffering from a more severe case of canine influenza, you may notice a high fever and pneumonia. Pneumonia is not directly caused by the disease but is the result of a secondary infection. If this happens, you need to seek veterinary intervention immediately as the fatality rate for dogs that develop pneumonia or respiratory infection as a secondary infection is as high as 50 percent.
Common symptoms of canine influenza:
- Lack of appetite
- Nasal discharge
- Weight loss
- Heavy breathing
Transmission of Canine Influenza Virus
Canine influenza virus is a respiratory disease that is transmitted through droplets that contain respiratory secretions that are infected with the virus. This is typically a result of coughing or sneezing. Dogs that are frequently in the presence of other dogs are at an increased risk of developing canine influenza. This includes dogs that go to a day care center, groomers, kennels, and any facility with many dogs present.
Canine influenza can also be spread through indirect exposure such as food bowls, water bowls, collars, and leashes that were used by an infected dog. In addition, it can be spread by a person if they were in contact with an infected dog. If you have multiple dogs in your household, it is important to frequently disinfect common surfaces that are shared by the dogs. This helps to prevent the spread of the virus. If you have been in contact with other dogs outside of your home, you should be sure to wash your hands before interacting with your dog. This prevents the spread of illness from the unknown dog to your dog.
The canine influenza virus is a durable virus and can remain on surfaces for up to 48 hours. This is why it is important to implement frequent cleaning procedures. This is especially important if you live in an area that is known for the canine influenza virus.
This respiratory disease has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, in most cases, clinical signs of illness appear after 2 to 3 days after exposure and infection. Infected dogs are most contagious during the incubation period as the virus is shed without the dog showing any symptoms of illness. In some cases, dogs do not show any symptoms and still spread the virus to other dogs.
Treatment of Canine Influenza Virus
Most of the time, you should take your dog to the vet in order for them to recommend a proper course of treatment and prevent unwanted secondary infections, especially pneumonia. When it comes to treatment for canine influenza, it mainly involves treating the symptoms of the virus. However, it is important to provide your dog with proper nutrition while it is sick in order to strengthen its immune response and immune system and help it fight off the virus. Keep your dog as comfortable as possible and limit the stress within its environment. It is best to provide your dog with a place that is warm and quiet for them to escape to.
Most dogs tend to recover from the canine influenza virus within 2-3 weeks of infection. However, if your dog develops secondary bacterial infections, pneumonia, dehydration, or other secondary illnesses, you may need to seek additional help and treatment from a veterinarian. This additional treatment typically involves providing the dog with antimicrobials to treat the infection. In addition, the vet may administer nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the dog’s fever and reduce inflammation within the dog’s body.
It is important to make sure that your dog continues to drink plenty of water while it is sick. This prevents the dog from becoming dehydrated and developing additional complications. Be sure that your dog has access to plenty of freshwater to prevent dehydration. In addition, to prevent transmission to another dog, you should isolate the infected dog for at least 4 weeks to ensure that the dog is no longer shedding the virus.
Tips for treating Influenza in dogs
Avoid big changes in temperature for your dog. Temperature changes can aggravate your dog’s immune system, so you should avoid them as much as possible. In addition, it is necessary to prepare your dog for the arrival of winter to prevent it from falling ill.
Keep your dog hydrated and well-fed. As can happen to any person when they have a cold, your dog will be listless and lose his appetite, which will result in your dog not eating or wanting to drink. Allowing him to stop eating and drinking can only aggravate the disease, so be vigilant and monitor his continual eating and drinking water, which will help reduce his mucus.
Rest is essential. Your dog will need to rest. It is the best way to recover as soon as possible. Try to keep him calm and, if you have other dogs or children at home, try to get them to realize that you need your space and time to recover.