Recent Outbreak of Dog Influenza
Canine influenza or “The Dog Flu” is primarily the result of two influenza strains: H3N8 from an equine origin and H3N2 from an avian origin. Both of these strains were previously known to infect species other than dogs, but are now able to infect and spread among dogs.
The virus is relatively new, discovered 17 years ago, and, unfortunately, due to recent discoveries, dogs are not immune to the virus.
Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, and loss of appetite. Signs are very similar to a dog with kennel cough.
How Serious is Dog Influenza?
A recent study shows that 80 to 90 percent of dogs exposed to the virus will become infected. Ten to 20 percent of dogs will contact the virus but won’t show any symptoms.
One in five dogs with the virus will develop severe symptoms, while up to eight percent of dogs infected may die from canine influenza complications.
How Long is A Dog Contagious?
It takes about 2 to 4 days (incubation period) for clinical signs to develop after contact with the virus. Infected dogs are most contagious during this incubation period before symptoms occur, making rapid transmission likely. Infected dogs continue to spread the virus for up to 20 days.
Treatment and Prevention
You can treat canine influenza at home with the following:
- Provide soft, strong-smelling foods.
- Make sure they have plenty of fresh water.
- Make sure your dog is comfortable.
- Keep your dog’s face clean.
- Vaccinate your dog
- Wash your hands after touching other dogs.
- Isolate your dog.
Some dogs may require supportive care, such as fluids, to aid their recovery, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce fevers. Dr. Whitworth can advise you of what’s best for your dog.
Dr. Whitworth recommends keeping your dog inside, away from dog day care, dog parks, etc. Also, call ahead to see if a boarding facility is accepting dogs in at the moment if you need to leave your do for boarding.
There is a dog influenza vaccine available that he recommends that you have your dog take.