Having a sick pet on your hands can be upsetting, and this can be even worse if you know that your dog is contagious. As a result, knowing about the dog flu can be very helpful to dog owners, especially if they have multiple dogs or a dog that is very active in their community. Here we will be explaining everything that dog owners need to know about the dog flu.
The dog flu is a viral respiratory infection that is caused by a strain of influenza that can infect dogs. Although dogs usually get through this infection just fine, elderly dogs and very young puppies can be particularly vulnerable if they catch this illness.
In this article we will be explaining everything that dog owners need to know about canine influenza. This includes what it is, how it spreads, and how you can prevent your dog from getting the dog flu. In addition, we will be describing the symptoms of canine influenza, and we will also be explaining what you should do if you believe that your dog has this disease.
What is the Dog Flu? Are There Different Strains?
The dog flu is a type of type A influenza that can infect dogs. There are currently two strains of canine influenza, and they are the H3N8 virus and the H3N2 virus. There is little difference between these two strains when it comes to symptoms and its treatment.
Can People Catch the Dog Flu?
No, people cannot catch the dog flu. In fact, both canine influenza viruses can only infect animals. The H3N8 virus can infect both dogs and horses. Meanwhile, the H3N2 dog flu virus can only be passed between dogs.
What Dogs Are Most at Risk of Getting the Flu?
Dogs are most at risk of catching canine influenza if they are in frequent contact with other dogs. This includes being kenneled, attending dog daycare, and visiting dog parks. In addition to this, dogs that travel are technically more at risk of catching the dog flu than dogs that do not as well.
Where in the United States is the Dog Flu Most Prevalent?
The more people and dogs are around, the more likely the dog flu is prevalent in these areas. Usually, outbreaks occur in somewhat small pockets such as in a specific kennel or shelter. As of now, the H3N8 strain of canine influenza is much more common than the H3N2 strain in the United States.
How is the Dog Flu Spread?
Canine Influenza is spread through droplets that are let out through coughing or sneezing. This disease can also be spread through contaminated objects such as food bowls, dog beds, and other surfaces. In addition, this virus can also be passed from people that have the virus on them to other dogs. As a result, dogs that are in close contact with an infected dog are more at risk for catching the dog flu than dogs that are not in close contact with an infected dog. This is why these illnesses are commonly seen in places like shelters and kennels.
For How Long Are Dogs Infected with the Dog Flu Contagious?
The amount of time that dogs are contagious depends entirely on which strain of the dog flu that the dog has. The H3N8 strain of canine influenza will only leave dogs contagious for about 10 days. Meanwhile, the H3N2 strain of the dog flu can leave dogs being contagious for up to 26 days. Of course, you should keep your dog away from other dogs for the time that is recommended by your veterinarian. You should also take extra care with keeping your dog’s area clean and washing your hands throughout that time as well.
Symptoms of the Dog Flu
The symptoms of the dog flu are fairly similar to that of the flu that people can get. The most common symptoms of canine influenza in dogs include but may not be limited to:
- Discharge coming from the nose and/or eyes
- Breathing difficulties
Usually, dogs will fight off the dog flu just fine. However, dogs with weak immune systems, elderly dogs, and young puppies are more at risk for developing pneumonia because of having the dog flu. As you can probably imagine, this stage where pneumonia is developed is the most dangerous in dogs. Luckily, most dogs do not get pneumonia because of having canine influenza.
How Dangerous is the Dog Flu?
Most dogs that catch the dog flu survive it and go on to live normal lives. Thankfully the fatality rate of this disease is extremely low at less than 10 percent. Only dogs with particularly weak immune systems are really at risk when they catch canine influenza.
Will All Dogs Show Symptoms of the Dog Flu?
No, not all dogs will show symptoms of the dog flu when they have it. In fact, an estimated 20-25 percent of dogs are asymptomatic when they are infected with canine influenza.
How to Prevent Your Dogs from Catching the Dog Flu
There are vaccines available for dogs that will protect them from canine influenza. This and limiting your dog’s contact with other dogs are the only sure ways to prevent them from catching the dog flu. Luckily, dog owners only really need to worry about this if there is either an outbreak of canine influenza in your area or if your dog is in a high risk of catching it.
What to do if Your Dog Catches the Dog Flu
It is important that you take your dog to the vet if you believe that he has the dog flu. There they will be able to officially diagnose your dog and provide you with proper treatment. Although there is no cure for the dog flu, your vet will be able to provide you with medications such as anti-inflammatories that will help to reduce your dog’s symptoms. In addition, they will also be able to give you helpful advice when it comes to keeping your dog comfortable during this time. They will also be able to provide supportive care to vulnerable dogs that have contracted canine influenza.
About Birch Lake Animal Hospital
The staff at Birch Lake Animal Hospital seeks to provide the best possible medical care for our highly-valued patients and clients.