Here’s what you need to know about the dog flu outbreak
Posted June 20
The first strain of canine influenza, or dog flu, in the U.S. was reported in 2004. The virus, known as H3N8 influenza A, is closely related to a type of horse flu. Experts believe that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine strain. A separate strain, H3N2, believed to have come from an avian influenza virus in Asia, broke out in Chicago in 2015.
An outbreak of H3N2 broke out once more in May 2017, with cases reported in at least 10 states, including Illinois, Florida, Texas and several surrounding areas.
There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from canines to humans, however it can easily spread from one dog to another. Fortunately, fewer than 10 percent of dogs that contract the flu die from the illness.
Learning how it is transmitted, what symptoms to watch for and how to treat a dog with the flu can help pet owners help their precious pooches.
How Do Dogs Get the Flu?
Infected dogs can spread the virus through coughing, sneezing and barking. The risk of transmission increases when multiple dogs are in close quarters, such as at a grooming or boarding facility, doggy daycare or animal shelter.
Canine influenza can also spread indirectly. Objects with which infected dogs have been in contact, such as water and food bowls, kennels or even people can expose other dogs to the flu. The virus can live up to 12 hours on hands, 24 hours on clothing and 48 hours on surfaces.
What Are the Symptoms of Canine Influenza?
While some infected dogs become severely ill, other dogs show no signs of the sickness at all. The most common mild symptoms include a persistent, moist cough or a dry cough similar to kennel cough; runny eyes; sneezing; lethargy; fever; reduced appetite; and thick nasal mucus discharge. The presence of nasal mucus may indicate a secondary infection.
Dogs presenting the typical flu symptoms along with a high fever (104ËF to 106ËF) as well as respiratory issues, such as labored breathing, may have developed pneumonia.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Catches the Flu?
If your dog has symptoms of canine flu, it is important to separate your pet from other animals. A veterinarian can test an ailing dog to determine whether it is sick with the flu or another type of infection. Make sure you contact the vet with your concerns before taking your dog to the office, as your pet may be highly contagious.
Most dogs will recover within two to four weeks with minimal extra care, although they must be kept separate from other dogs for at least a month. Pets with other health issues, such as a pre-existing respiratory disease or compromised immune system, may require medications or other advanced treatment. Dogs who develop pneumonia may require hospitalization.
How Can You Prevent Your Dog from Getting Sick?
Isolating sick dogs is the primary way to prevent this virus from spreading. Good hygiene and sanitation go a long way, as well. For instance, wash your hands after playing with, feeding and cleaning up after your dog and clean shared pet items thoroughly after every use.
In addition, you can vaccinate your pet. Vaccines for both H3N8 and H3N2 strains of canine influenza virus are available, although most vets only recommend them for dogs that have a high exposure to other dogs.
Who Else Is At Risk?
There has been no evidence that dog flu is contagious to humans. There have been instances of dog-to-cat and cat-to-cat transmission of the H3N2 canine influenza virus, so any dog that presents symptoms of the flu should be kept away from other animals in the household.
[h/t: WXII 12 News]