What is Canine Flu?
The dog flu, or Canine Influenza Virus (CIV H3N2 or H3N8), is a highly contagious infection caused by an influenza virus and is transmitted by aerosolized respiratory secretions - think coughing and sneezing.
Causes: How Does A Dog Get The Flu?
Dog Influenza can also be transmitted between dogs via contaminated objects such as food and water bowls, collars, leashes, toys, bedding, and through nose-to-nose contact between dogs.
The virus is able to live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hard surfaces for up to 12 hours.
What Dogs Are At Risk Of The Flu?
Dogs that are most susceptible to infection are those that spend a good deal of time around other dogs during boarding, day care or play time at the dog park.
Dog Flu Symptoms: "Most infected dogs have mild clinical symptoms and it can be very hard to distinguish from other forms of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIED), a common type of kennel cough," says Carrie Helovich, DVM. So if your dog shows any of these symptoms, visit your veterinarian so they can test to confirm whether or not your dog has Canine Influenza H3N2.
Nasal discharge - not just your dog's normal wet nose
Eye discharge - look for goopy, mucus-like discharge or a noticeable increase if your dog normally has eye discharge
Reduced activity, lethargy
It is important to recognize the symptoms of dog flu so you can seek treatment for your pet quickly.
Treating Dog Flu: The flu needs to run its course (15-30 days for mild cases). Treatment for Canine Flu is mostly supportive: fluids, rest and cough medicine prescribed by your vet. (Please do not give human meds to dogs.) Very severe cases require hospitalization or more intensive therapies.
Preventing Dog Flu: You may notice warning signs about the canine flu popping up at doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, veterinarian's offices and even dog-friendly businesses. And for good reason: prevention is the best care
Here's what you can do to help keep you pup from catching the bug and control the outbreak:
Stay home! Don't you get annoyed when someone shows up to work hacking and sneezing all over the place? The same applies here: if your pooch is showing symptoms of dog flu, or has been diagnosed with canine influenza, keep them home and away from other dogs until they're well. For the time being, you may want to limit your dog's contact with other canines and avoid places where canine flue has been reported.
Speak up! If you absolutely must bring your dog to daycare or a boarding facility, ask if they've had any cases of dog flu and what they're doing to prevent it from spreading. And visit you vet a few weeks prior to travel to determine whether the vaccine is a good option.
Wash your paws! If you can't help petting every dog you see, wash up well before you spread the love - and the virus - to your own dog.
Talk to your vet about the best option for you and your pup, especially if they spend a lot of time around other dogs.