January 20, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn
Canine Influenza Worries Dog Owners
While Bay Area residents either deal with or worry about coming down with this year’s nasty and potentially deadly flu, there’s something else for dog owners to consider:
Canine influenza — more commonly called dog flu.
Dr. Kyle Frandle of the Los Gatos Dog & Cat Hospital indicated that the dog flu going around the Bay Area this winter is pretty serious.
“In the last few days there have been confirmed cases of Canine Influenza H3N2, known as dog flu, in our area. Canine Influenza is a highly contagious virus. There are two strains of the virus – H3N8 and N3N2 — and are host specific and can be found all over the world,” stated Dr. Frandle.
So, what are the symptoms of dog flu and what should dog owners be looking for?
Symptoms and Types of Canine Influenza
General symptoms of these illnesses include coughing, fever, malaise, sneezing, and anorexia. Red and/or runny eyes and runny nose may be seen in some dogs. In a majority of cases, there is a history of contact with other dogs that carried the virus.
Dogs that are infected with the canine influenza virus may develop two different syndromes:
Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. It can be more of a dry cough. Symptoms typically last 10 to 30 days and usually go away on its own.
Severe – For the most part, these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s possible for pneumonia to develop. The most common type being hemorrhagic and sometimes bacterial pneumonia may onset, too. The influenza virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, forcing a dog to cough up blood and have trouble breathing if there is bleeding into the alveoli (air sacs).
Treating Dog Flu
The mild form is usually treated with cough suppressants. Antibiotics may be used if there is a bacterial infection. Rest is important as well as isolation from other dogs.
The severe form needs to be treated aggressively using different types of antibiotics, fluids and other supportive treatments. Hospitalization and isolation are necessary until the dog is well.
Preventing Dog Flu
There is a vaccine available for canine influenza. However, it should only be considered after a conversation with your veterinarian.
Any dog that is suspected to have canine influenza should be isolated from other dogs. Those dogs with the mild form of the infection usually recover on their own.
The virus is contagious and is spread by direct contact between dogs as well as by contaminated stool, surfaces, bowls, collars, leashes, equipment, and the hands and clothing of people.
The virus can be spread via direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs, such as barking, sneezing or coughing and by contact with contaminated objects. Clothing, shoes, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent infection.
This is another great reason why we make sure to disinfect our tools daily as well as in-between client visits. Our tools are disinfected using vet-grade sanitizers and disinfectants. Sanitation and cleanliness are key in our industry. At a time with dog flu so prevalent, it’s that much more important for us to be aware of what we may be introducing into our clients’ yards.
If you’re concerned your yard may be contaminated with the canine influenza virus, we offer a yard sanitizer spray which acts as a disinfectant. It kills canine influenza, parvo, E-coli and other types of dog-related viruses. It works best on hard surface areas and artificial turf but can be used on grassy areas as well.
Can it Spread to People or Other Animals?
Canine influenza is not a contagion issue for humans or other species. However, cats can sometimes catch the virus from infected dogs, and, currently, there is no flu vaccine for cats.
Flu fear, however, is no reason to miss out on much-needed playtime for your pooch. The virus has been a part of the dog world for years, and it’s rarely deadly.
If you’re still worried about your pup catching the virus, the best things to do are to avoid dog parks and other public places where large groups of dogs gather.
Still, most veterinarians encourage pet owners to vaccinate their dogs with the canine version of a flu shot. And, if you’re worried your pup might be infected, help is just one vet visit away.