With another recent outbreak, the canine flu has reared its ugly head again.
While the flu can be dangerous — even deadly — for some dogs, there are steps you can take to reduce your pet’s risk.
What is Canine Flu?
Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) or canine flu is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It causes a dry non-productive cough, similar to that of kennel cough, which makes it difficult to diagnose on exam alone. Other symptoms are nasal discharge, lethargy, low grade fever, and reluctance to eat. The virus emerged in 2003 and was first seen in greyhounds at racing tracks in Florida. It is believed the canine flu virus mutated from a horse influenza virus. It can now be found in 40 states across the country.
Since this is a new virus, and dogs have no natural immunity, virtually every dog that comes into contact with the virus will develop symptoms. Most dogs will become mildly affected and recover quickly with antibiotic treatment; however, a cough can persist for several weeks after infection.
The risks of this virus are more serious for very old and very young dogs; those with chronic health conditions; or dogs that are currently infected or recovering from another bacteria or virus. These pets may develop symptoms in their lower airway, called pneumonia. They can also develop a very high fever, which, in some cases, can result in death.
Testing for the disease can be tricky, as the samples need to be collected from the pet within the first few days of infection. Most early flu infections go unnoticed by pet parents until the symptoms are more severe.
How is it spread?
Infected dogs spread the virus with their coughing and sneezing. When an affected dog coughs or sneezes, aerosolized particles
containing the virus are able to spread up to 50 feet away. It can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated objects such as dog beds, toys, food bowls, and other contaminated surfaces.
What can I do to prevent my dog from getting Canine Flu?
The best way to reduce your dog’s chances of becoming infected with the flu virus is to avoid kennels and other places where large numbers of dogs are housed. Fortunately, our pet sitting and dog walking services are the perfect alternative to keeping your pet in a kennel, where they can potentially be exposed to this disease.
If your dog does board at a kennel or go to a groomer, make sure he is protected with a canine influenza vaccine. This vaccine does not prevent the flu 100%, but it will lessen the severity and length of the illness. You should discuss your dog’s risk factors with your veterinarian and determine if the vaccine will be beneficial to your pet.
Armed with the right information, you can protect your dogs against this serious infection. Please contact us if you have any questions about the canine flu and how we can help you reduce your pet’s risk of infection.