Flu season is over for humans, and all of the warnings and anxiety associated with it have fallen by the wayside for now. Dog flu, however, doesn’t have a season, meaning the risk to your pet is there throughout the year. Learning the facts about canine influenza is essential to protect your dog and the dogs in your community.
Canine Influenza 101
Canine influenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory disease in dogs. The two strains of the virus that cause canine influenza are:
H3N8 – This strain was first identified in 2004 among racing greyhounds in Florida, and is thought to have originated in horses.
H3N2 – This Asian dog flu strain was first seen in 2015 in the United States. H3N2 can affect cats, in rare cases.
Canine influenza is a relatively new virus, meaning that dogs haven’t had time to build up an immunity. Dogs of any age and health status are at risk of contracting the illness.
Signs and Symptoms
It’s important that canine influenza is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible for the best chance of recovery. Please contact us immediately if your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Persistent cough (wet or dry)
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
Because canine influenza is a virus, there is no cure other than to let it run its course. Treatment generally consists of supporting the patient’s immune system through rest, fluids, and antibiotics (if a secondary infection develops).
How It’s Spread
Canine influenza is spread from dog to dog through respiratory secretions. Transmission takes place more frequently in areas where dogs congregate, such as kennels, dog parks, dog shows, and animal shelters. Dogs can also be infected through contact with contaminated objects, such as water dishes, toys, or bedding.
Canine influenza does not affect humans, and vice versa, so there is no need to worry that you or your family members may contract or transmit the disease.
Protecting Your Pup
You can keep your pet safe and avoid spreading canine influenza in the following ways:
- Have your dog vaccinated against both strains, and make sure they are current on all other immunizations for optimal health.
- Don’t allow your dog to come into contact with any dog who is showing signs of respiratory illness.
- Wash your hands after handling any animals.
- Launder your dog’s personal items regularly.
- If your dog contracts canine influenza, be sure to keep them quarantined until your veterinarian has deemed it safe for them to be around other pets.
Although dog flu is extremely contagious, it rarely becomes a serious issue for pets. A little common sense goes a long way in protecting our pets, and as always, your team at Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center is here to address your questions and concerns. Give us a call!